Trader Joe's Cornbread Mix
- Jim Leff
I hate really really really simple cooking tasks. They make me incredibly anxious.
I've got a box of TJ's cornbread mix. It says "you will need: 1 egg, 1/2 cup oil, and 3/4 cup milk".
So...what oil? I'm figuring olive would be too strong-flavored. So...like Maxola? Wesson? I don't OWN oil!
And milk...shall I buy full fat, or can I use my usual 1% and fatten it up with some butter? Or should I use butter in lieu of oil?
Also, can I cut this thing in half? It's a 15 oz box, and I'm likely to be the only one eating this stuff, and I don't want its termination to be my life's work for the next two weeks. That could interfere with my obsession with Mina (see outer boros board).
And I need an 8x8x2 pan? I don't have a full set of wrenches, and certainly not of baking pans. Can I just do this in, like, an aluminum take-out container or something?
Ah, ease. Ah, convenience.
Not only can you freeze it, but leftovers are great split,toasted,and buttered. Or split and covered with extra sharp cheddar or cheese of choice and toasted in toaster oven. You DID get a new toaster oven, didn't you, Jim?
Maybe you should do some yoga before attempting any of this, though.
You can buy a disposable aluminum 8 X 8 pan at the grocery store (often in "Housewares").
Oil means, basically, like you said Wesson with little flavor. Butter has a higher burning rate, but you can use that or mix them. Like you said, some oils have flavors that will come through.
Milk is to your taste. If you like non-fat, okay. If you like fatty, use it - or even cream. If you want a bite, use buttermilk and add some green chilis. Just remember that the amount of milk needed is the amount of "liquid" needed. So, if you add soaking green chilis or a can of creamed corn, you have to adjust the amount of liquid to get the batter consistency right. (A note for next time)
By the way, try Marie Callendar's ready mix cornbread next time. You just add eggs and water. You might find it in any grocery store. It's in a yellow can (pictured lower right corner - you may have to scroll to the bottom right corner)
And, does it tell you when it's done? Some ovens are different. So, look for it pulling away from the sides of the pan. and it sill be springy to the touch in the middle. Make sure there is enough room in the oven so that it doesn't rise and hit the rack above it. You can also make it in cupcake cups, but, then the baking time is different -less - same theory of pulling away from the sides, though.
re: kc girl
I'd definitely use an iron skillet. And if you add those chilis and corn, add some super sharp cheddar. And put a big pot of pinto beans on. And maybe some mac n cheese. And there you have it, I'm homesick again... Sure there's good soul food here, but you just can't find East Tennessee in Los Angeles :(
Use an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet. Preheat it in the oven with the shortening (preferably lard) in the skillet. Add the hot shortening (or oil, if you must, but avoid soybean oil and corn oil - the first due to the weird taste it gives real cornbread and the second because it leaves a sticky residue), mix, and pour into skillet. Cook for the required time (until light golden brown on top). If you use buttermilk, you will need to add baking soda to the mix - maybe about a level teaspoon full. Otherwise any sort of sweet milk will do. I hope the mix doesn't have flour or sugar in it, so that you can have real true cornbread. If it does contain these, it isn't cornbread, it's cake.
I could put away that much cornbread in about a day and a half by myself, mostly just by snacking on it.
Boy, you do eat out a lot. Cornbread is pretty foolproof. You don't need cast iron (works nicely, though), you don't need proper sized pan (anything works -- muffin tins, loaf pan, 9x12, roasting pan -- anything). Oil is plain old Wesson style vegetable oil. All vegetable oils are flavor neutral, so it doesn't matter which, really. I use skim milk because that's what's in the house. I suppose it is not as rich, but as I said, cornbread is hard to mess up. You can enrich with some cream (even a couple of tablespoons of melted vanilla ice cream would work), but butter won't substitute (it will make it taste nice and buttery, but not rich). You can halve recipe. If you use odd size pan, just make sure to leave some room for rising, and don't rely on cooking time (cooking it in a 13x9 roasting pan will take less time than in a small, tall loaf pan). The aluminum pie shaped take out containers should be fine for a half recipe. Bake until golden brown.
re: K A/O
I don't know how I got suckered in. Really, I like other people cooking. And when I do cook, I like to either 1. stick to the dozen things I make really well, or 2. improvise. There's just no room for these semi-convenience items in my life; I should stop pretending they're for me.
Thanks for the advice, everybody.