I ran out the back door, the swinging screen door slamming shut behind me with a loud “thwap.”Only a short distance, right in the middle of our back yard, was a giant tree; a climbing tree, to be exact. The type of tree escapes me, only that it was sturdy & giant, large enough to build an imaginary land in its branches. There was a disc swing hanging from one of its lower branches, and a large stump sitting under one of the taller branches, placed in such a way that when we climbed up on the stump, we could swing our limbs up and finagle our small child bodies from the ground to the levels above.This could’ve been a piece of land in the country, where we roamed free as kids, living out our imaginations. Instead, it was in the humble backyard of a small house smack-dab in the middle of the city. Only a few houses down there was a major city road that held pizza places, frozen custard shops, laundry mats, banks, big box stores, and many others. The house we lived in was a humble three bedroom, shared by our family of six. We weren’t made of money, so to speak, but as an eight year old kid, it didn’t really matter. For all I could see, we had a garden in the backyard that our mom would let us occasionally make a mud pit in, we had two amazing climbing trees, and things that we found around the house to build our treehouse with. My sister and I would conjure up a plan (well, she would conjure the plan, and we would do it together, because she was older and that’s just the way it was) to get the wood scraps that we found up into the tree branches, making a pulley system with a bucket and some rope. A piece of wood set atop two branches was a comfy perch, one where we could hang out and plan the rest of our day away.
Some of those days we used our imaginations to the fullest, and once the sun had set and the mud on our skin started to chill us, we would come inside and were greeted by the smell of sweet cornbread hanging in the air. Ultimately comforting after a day full of building and imagining all the way our treehouse could be used. Washing the cold mud off of our skin, we would gather around beans that had been simmered to perfection & cornbread that was waiting to be slathered with butter and honey.
In those moments, gathered with family, there was a peace and contentment that can only be defined as being home.Now, in a relatively new place on the edge of the continent, I am in the process of realizing how to make this place my home. When are you going to feel 100% home in a new place? The answer differs with everyone, but I don’t think it just “happens” without some sort of intention. And there are several ways I have found to make this place feel like home.Hole up in a coffee shop for an afternoon.
Wander the farmers’ market, people watching & wandering.
Share your heart with a friend, even if they aren’t the friend you are used to.
Snuggle and power-watch a favorite TV show the Hubs.
This bread is a bit sweeter, due to the browned butter, but the earthy, woody taste of rosemary balances out the sweet beautifully. Using fine & coarse cornmeal, it gives it a bit more texture to each bite and increases the amount of crumbs that will inevitably go straight into your soup.
I may have gotten carried away with the honey drizzling, but if you must get carried away with anything, shouldn’t it be honey drizzling? Let’s be real.
This was my view during this homey cornbread bake. Big flakes of snow pillowing themselves on our lawn, gently quieting the world of its madness and forcing us to slow down, breathe, and admire beauty.
So in the midst of these winter months, I hope you find time to make the place you are in your home. Trust me; this cornbread helps.
Brown Butter Rosemary Cornbread
makes 1 8×8-inch pan1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup + 1 Tbsp buttermilk (I used 1 cup milk & 1 Tbsp white vinegar)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 cup fine ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemaryPlace a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and 8×8-inch square baking pan (you could also use greased parchment paper
). Set aside.
In a light-colored small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Melt and cook butter down completely. It will sizzle and crackle. That’s the butter cooking out of the butter. Keep an eye on the butter and you’ll see brown bits begin to form at the bottom of the pan. Swirl pan and cook until browned bits are a chestnut color and the butter smells nutty. Remove from the pan and immediately transfer butter (browned bits and all) to a small bowl to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and browned butter. Set aside.
In a large bowl, blend together sugar, and chopped rosemary. Blend with the back of a spoon working the rosemary flavor into the sugar.
Add flour, cornmeals, salt, and baking soda to the large bowl with the flavored sugar. Whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, ensuring that all of the dry ingredients are moistened and incorporated into the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth to the edges. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Bread is best served warm and will last, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to three days. Pairs well with a hearty soup like black bean soup or a spicy chili.
Source: adapted from Joy the Baker
Listening to: “Bay of Pigs” by Rogue Valley