Sunday, July 17, 2011

The BEST Sweet Cornbread

I had previously titled the last post as "Sausage-Kale Bread Pudding and the BEST Cornbread" but I finished the bread pudding recipe and totally forgot to add the cornbread. I remembered now and will correct that, by giving the BEST Cornbread its own post - which I believe is fitting.

Before coming to Texas, I imagined that I would be fed baked beans, barbecue, and cornbread at every turn. After 5 weeks here already, I have found cornbread only sold at the grocery stores and minimally at one or two restaurants. I was quite appalled. Cornbread, I guess, is more of a Southern thing in Georgia or South Carolina, whereas Texas is considered "West".

With this horrible, relentless craving for cornbread (and resisting purchasing the 8" cornbread round at WalMart), I decided to purchase a small pack of cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. The basics of baking so that I could make some of my own cornbread.

A couple weeks ago, one of the other interns at the apartment made some Jiffy cornbread, but it was absolutely delicious. Nothing like any Jiffy cornbread I had eaten or made before. The trick, she told me, was to add sugar. Well now, fancy that.

So, heeding her advice, I looked up some "sweet" cornbread recipes online. I came across this recipe that has been tried repeatedly by so many people across time and space. I read some of the comments below and made the revisions they suggested. Also, I was restricted to what pantry items I had on hand in the apartment, so my take on the original is a little different as well.

What resulted was a delicious, moist, sweet (but not too sweet) cornbread that didn't crumble upon handling. I was overjoyed. I hope you try this out yourself as well. It's definitely a keeper for when a cornbread craving hits you as hard as it hit me.

Brown Sugar Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3-3/4 cup of dark brown sugar (I mixed some Sugar in the Raw)
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup lowfat milk
1/3 vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly butter/oil an 8" square pan.
2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Combine wet ingredients, then mix into dry ingredients.
4. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with brown sugar.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden on the edges and light golden on top, and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes 12 squares. Each serving: 173 calories, 7 g fat, 26 g carbs, 3 g protein

Notes: I might leave the cornbread in there for 25-30 minutes next time to get a little crispier crust and bottom. Also, flecking the top more evenly with Sugar in the Raw crystals might be prettier than those crumbles of dark brown sugar (humidity made it clump). Adding chopped jalapeno, chives, corn kernels, or even cheese might make for a more savory bread. Either way, this bread can be eaten as a snack, breakfast, or an accompaniment to vegetarian chili or corn soup.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Kale Sausage Bread Pudding

Last week, I made another kale-sausage bread pudding, but this time for two of the other interns. Having leftover french bread, a nice juicy and large all-beef hot dog, kale, corn, carrots, and onions as usual, I decided to make use of resources. Oh, bread pudding, how you cater to my need to use up resources.

Kale Sausage Bread Pudding (serves 3, or 4 as a side)
3 kale leaves, washed and chopped
About 3 oz (7 baby) carrots, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large all-beef succulent beef hot dog, chopped
1/2 corn on the cob, boiled, sliced off
2 or 3 eggs (I can't remember)
1/4 cup plain yogurt + 1/4 cup water
1/4 loaf French bread, cubed
Salt, seasoning, black pepper

1.  Lightly oil the pan over medium heat. Add hot dog. Saute, then slide onto a plate.
2. Saute onions in the remaining oil till lightly yellow. Add in garlic, carrots, kale. Saute till kale is soft but still firm. Add in corn, saute one minute. Add in hot dog. Stir a little, then remove to a large bowl. Mix with bread
3. Preheat oven to 420 F. Lightly oil a small 8 by 8 inch pan.
4. Whisk eggs, yogurt, water, and seasoning. Pour over bread-veggie-meat mix. Stir so all the bread is soaked. Let sit for 5 min to saturate.
5. Pour into pan. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until set. Let cool for 5-10min. Slice and serve warm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

San Antonio Part 1, July 1-2

Here's that recap I promised about our fun foray into the depths of San Antonio and New Braunfels.

On Friday, July 1, I returned from a trip to HEB and proceeded to pack quickly. L+D were coming in the early evening to whisk me away to spend the night at L's place in San Antonio. I had gone to HEB to gather ingredients to make Mango Chai Bread Pudding (recipe from, where I often go to for lighter baking recipes): a fresh loaf of French bread, which never fails to delight the taste buds and warm the stomach without complexity; and dark brown sugar, the color of which is rich and gorgeous. I already had the wonderful box of yellow Ataulfo mangoes that my mom sent me a week ago, and one of the other residents was nice enough to stock the pantry with all the spices, herbs, and seasonings a cook could ask for! I packed away all the stuff to make the bread pudding, stopped by the poolside BBQ, then jumped in the car with my friends for the 3 hour drive to San Antonio.

Along the way, I saw cows and lots of land that looked the same.

Driving by downtown San Antonio
On Saturday, I met L's dad, a pretty nice guy. I really liked how he renovated his apartment. The living room portion of it was painted blue and had a blue bookshelf, and he installed some sills on the wall on which he placed photos and trinkets. After a nice breakfast at McDonalds (I must admit that oatmeal is dang good, with a copious amount of fruit), L and I got dropped off at the Alamo!

The famous Alamo!

You can't take pictures inside the Alamo, and it isn't mind-blowing, but it was better than I expected. My expectations were lowered because my roommate talked about how small it was. Truth be told, it was bigger than I expected. The coolest part with just looking at the names and origins of the people who fought on that fateful day. There were people from various states such as TN, TX, SC, FL; as well as people from Germany and Ireland. There was Davey's Crocket's gun. A man in the courtyard was telling a battle story. The giftshop was packed and had cute trinkets. My favorite was a Christmas stocking shaped liked a Texas cowboy boot.

We then proceeded to the RiverWalk, which is basically the upscale tourist attraction there. A coughdirtycough river, lined by restaurants, one end cupped by a typical shopping mall and hotel. It felt like I was back in Hawaii at a resort again.
Nice fountain-stream before the RiverWalk

One part of the RiverWalk (restaurant seating under umbrellas on right)
I wanted to check out El Mercado, the Mexican Marketplace that supposedly was 15 min away. Heat definitely makes it take much longer. But look what we found along the way! 

Torch of Friendship - gift from Mexico to America
After that long, draining, heat-exhausting walk, we made it. The plan was to eat at the famous Mi Tierra Bakery & Cafe, but the wait was 1 1/2 hours! We wandered more, with fatigue and blisters pestering. We ended in the food court where we bought some Mexican food and watched traditional Mexican music and dancing.
See the lucha libre masks on the right?
Cute little dancers
Later, I got the tres leches cake from Mi Tierra. First time trying it! Got a HUGE slice, for $6. Ate nearly all of it and it was super filling and very very tasty. I like, I like.

We went back to the RiverWalk and took the tour boat (~$7-8) through the canals. I'll add the slideshow after I make it. Beautiful and interesting.


For dinner, some of our group wanted to go to Dick's Last Resort bar restaurant. If you didn't know, this place is known for its bad service. Literally, it is their purpose to give you rude service, throw things at you, and keep a dirty atmosphere. It was amusing at first, but then it just got annoying. It's too loud, other people are wadding paper and throwing it all over the place, the waiters don't give you really what you want, you get bequeathed with ridiculous tall paper hats with random insults. Some ladies were having a bachelorette party, and they were given a huge blow-up cartoon penis, which they paraded around the front with. Great. Classy ladies, real classy. The food was nothing close to good or spectacular. Pass.

Kinda sucky ending, but otherwise a good wandering experience. The return to San Antonio and tubing down New Braunfels tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quick Soccer Check In

I hope everyone had a wonderful July 4th weekend! I know I did. It was quite a tiring but fun adventure. My friends and I drove down to San Antonio and New Braunfels, slept over at cousins' houses, and explored. More on that later. I am quickly giving a check-in on today.

So, I've been trying to keep up with the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. It's difficult because the games are on at 7 am, 11 am, or 1 pm daily, but I am often in lab so I cannot watch. I go to the FIFA Women's World Cup page where I catch up on the highlights. Here's a quick run-down on what the matches have been like:

What's crazy is that Japan scored four goals against Mexico. Germany beat France today; if you didn't know, Germany and France have a rivalry rooted deep in their history. For me, I say "Deutschland Vor!!!!!" North Korea has lost all of its games so far. USA won all except against Germany, so I'm a bit torn on who to root for. Tomorrow, we have Equatorial Guinea vs Brazil, Sweden vs USA, North Korea vs Colombia, and Australia vs Norway. US and Germany has been super strong so far. We'll have to see who comes out on top.

What's awesome is that I played a pick-up game of soccer today with some REU interns and their Civil Engineering grad students. It was pretty awesome. We played on the field by ISLB at 7:30 till close to 9ish, when the sun was almost completely set. I have not played soccer since...maybe elementary or middle school. I was super surprised when I found myself running back and forth across the field, trying to steal the ball, blocking, shooting. I somehow managed to keep running and hustling despite never playing before.

Best of all, I got two goals.


It was crazy. Many times I was by the other goal, tussling with the other team to try and get the ball in. We were kicking back and forth right in front of the goal for a good minute. Twice I was on the ground in some weird position, kicking in an even weirder position to try and get it in.

My star quality is being the small and swift one. They said I had good positioning, and I really tried to book it to get the ball from others and block. Only thing, small is not good for goalie, haha.

Anyhow, today was the perfect summer day. We played soccer through the sunset, with a good breeze, and some intense players. Ozzi was a little squat, but man does he have bursts of speed. He's a real star player. Him and Berto were awesome. Ozzi was great with his speed and head and passing. Berto was all crazy footwork. He was a real powerhouse. Then there were the two intense girls, Liz and Mara. They kept cheering me on, "Keep on it!" They were real supportive in that sporty way.

This was such an awesome day. I made about 15 hydrogels during the day, made 2 goals in the evening, and am watching "How the States Got their Shapes" on History Channel as I blog (awesome show. Check it out). I will definitely play soccer with everyone again on Thursday.

Updates on July 4th weekend to come up soon too! I've got lots of fun pictures of the Riverwalk and such. Till then, enjoy the night!