Saturday, September 13, 2014

The 3-Week Plan: Day 12 and 13

There isn´t much to say about day 12. I was eating alone and made French Toast for myself, or something resembling French Toast. In England they call it "Eggy Bread" and eat it with ketchup, which doesn´t sound particularly tasty to me (perhaps because I detest ketchup). I am firmly Americanized in regard to French Toast, which is called Fattiga Riddare in Swedish, (= poor knights) and eaten with jam or sugar and cinnamon; I insist on syrup. It doesn´t have to be maple syrup to please me, ordinary Ljus sirap (light syrup, which is actually more golden) is fine. A cousin of French Toast is Bread Pudding, which I also enjoy, but the husband not so much, so I rarely make it. It´s basically jam sandwiches soaked in egg and milk and cooked in the oven. Yum! You may call this dessert, I call it dinner when I feel like it.

And very pretty-looking beans they are!
Day 13 is Saturday and improv day and I decided to have some proper food, even though I was eating alone again. I haven´t been able to get the cornbread out of my mind since Divers&Sundry shared her recipe (which you find in the comments) with me the other day, and I decided to make it and have something suitable to match. I can´t quite get my mind around what catfish is, so I went with black eye peas, or beans, as they are called here. I googled for a nice-looking recipe and found Dave´s Georgia-style soup, stew, or pot or what you want to call it. It is not unlike Swedish yellow pea soup, but that is a lot more creamy than Dave´s seem to be according to his photos.

I halved the recipe; the beans come in 900 g bags, which is almost exactly 2 pounds, so I took half that. I let it soak over night, then added 1,5 liters of water, four cubes of vegetable boullion, 2 fried regular size onions, 240 g of fried bacon (they come in 120 g packets), and skipped the ham. I added whole grain white pepper, since it is a slow-cooking thing. No salt, and as it turned out, with the saltiness of the bacon and the boullion, it doesn´t need any.

Dave says to keep this on the stove for 8 hours (!) after soaking, but the reviewers seem to think four was enough. I tried my beans after 3 hours and they were thoroughly cooked, but I wasn´t quite hungry yet then, so I let it sit for another hour, while doing my excercises for the drawing course I am attending. After that, I was both frustrated and hungry!

Now, this is important: when Americans speak of corn, they don´t mean korn, which is tempting for a Swede to think. They mean maize (Sw. majs), also called Indian corn, as of corn-on-the-cob (Sw. majskolv). Corn in Britain can mean oats (Sw. havre) or even wheat (Sw. vete). Swedish korn is barley in English, and it´s the stuff they make malt whisky of, while the American bourbon whiskey is at least partly made from corn - I mean maize. Confusing, eh?

The corn (maize) flour I bought comes from Italy and is called farina di mais per polenta. Polenta is a maize porridge, mostly known to Swedes from fancy restaurants where it is left to cool and congeal, cut up, grilled and served with meat. Don´t get the wrong kind, or you will end up with a very boring and sad sponge cake.

I made the cornbread pretty much like I make sponge cake. The trick is to mix the dry ingredients and the wet separately, and then stir just enough to mix it. The mum-in-law taught me to use one of the whisks, it´s a really good trick. It came out very nicely, I think. Perhaps Divers&Sundry will please grade my attempt?

I understand black eye peas are traditional on New Year´s Eve in the southern States, and is considered to bring luck for the new year. Well, I am certainly impressed enough to make this one of my standard recipes and make it for guests as well. We´ll see how it does in the freezer, but I don´t think it matters much if the beans fall apart some.

After having done the dishes, I poured myself a well-deserved G&T and knit some on my scarf while watching Guy Ritchie´s "Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows".

PS. If you are Swedish and reluctant to try American/English (ok, the Brits are officially on the liter scale, but so often prefer "old money") recipes because you can´t get your head around "cups", check out your local ICA or Coop for quarter liter (2,5 dl) measuring cups. They now also come with cup- and half cup measuring lines, as you can see in the picture below. Liters on the right, cups on the left. Thank the good ol´ internet & multiculturalism for that one. DS.


  1. Your cornbread looks exactly like mine! I like this recipe.

    We're supposed to eat hog's jowl and black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year's Day, but Mother always substituted ham, so the tradition appears to be flexible lol I don't make a soup from the peas but just eat them cooked (often just warmed up from a can) and top them with a sweet pickle relish. Beans & peas do take a while if you start with dried ones.

    The info on the corn was very interesting! Around here Indian corn is dark and multi-colored and I've never known anyone to actually eat it. We use it for door decorations in the Fall.

    We love French Bread! Mother said her family always called it "lost bread" as it was such a good way to use bread once it got too stale to eat otherwise. In fact, we always thought it was better made with stale bread. We sometimes use cinnamon sugar, but sometimes we use powdered sugar (which is how I was taught to serve it).

    1. Well, I am relieved I made it properly! It is as I remember it, and I just had some with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and marmelade for breakfast - yum! I am glad it´s not as sweet as you mentioned some recipes are. This is just perfect.

      We would probably call the bean thing "gryta", which means pot. Not enough liquid to be a soup, but I can see that working, too. I thought it might work with a topping of cream fraiche, but then I think it enhances the taste of pretty much anything. Hog´s jowl sounds... well, I can see why your mother would substitute it. On the whole, I think national dishes are "poor man´s food", certainly in Italy a lot of it is made from "the fifth fourth" of the animal, the stuff the butcher would throw out and could be gotten for next to nothing. Same here, peas and beans and the bits of meat that are almost just skin or bones are made into dishes that not only taste heavenly, but go a long way.

      I can see why you make decorations of flint corn - it´s got wonderful colours.

      If my bread isn´t stale enough, I toast it first. Else it just will not soak up the batter. I love to make it with bread baked with brewer´s wort (vörtbröd), which we have for Christmas. I can´t see how anyone could not love French Toast, but the husband isn´t crazy about it.