Tag Archives: cornbread

Cornbread Fest is Saturday’s Best Bet, Despite Speaker Crumble

2 Nov

Last year, organizers of the first-ever Arkansas Cornbread Festival expected about 800, maybe 1000 folks to show up. They ended up with over 3000 hungry cornbread enthusiasts.

Lesson learned. We Arkansans love us some cornbread!

Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 3, lovers of the sweet (or not!) southern staple will descend upon South Main Street in Little Rock to enjoy live music, shopping, and of course, cornbread.

The event was created as a way to introduce folks to all the nifty things we already have available on South Main, such as an urban garden, a soda shop, unique shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Plenty of ‘bread and sides will be available for sampling, offered up by professional and amateur competitors. The entries are in the categories of Traditional, Non-Traditional and Sweet.

Alas, just as last year, I had grand plans to enter myself, and just…didn’t. (New job! Cooking gigs! Exhaustion!) But I do plan on going over to try other folks’ stuff. If you’re gluten-free like me, I know of at least one cornbread that will be safe: Dempsey Bakery will be there as a competitor in the Sweet category. And I’ll wager that at least one or two of the Traditional category entries will be all-corn, as well.

The event was originally to include a lecture and book signing by Dr. Jessica Harris, author of several books about African-American cuisine and its fascinating history. But Hurricane Sandy stepped in and changed plans for the New York author. So give Dr. Harris some love and check out her latest book, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, at the Museum Store at Historic Arkansas Museum.

Visit the event website for lists of all the musical acts, cornbread competitors, arts and crafts (and clothing and more) vendors, recipes and all that. See you there!

Event Deets:

Arkansas Cornbread Festival
Saturday, November 3
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
South Main Street, Downtown Little Rock
Between 13th and 16th Streets

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids day of the event
Discount advance tickets ($7 adults, $3 kids) are available online until 5 p.m. Friday

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Gone Fishing for a Healthy, Yummy Dinner

2 Jul

Are you hungry yet?

The whole thing started one morning this week when I decided to make cornbread. For breakfast. That’s what happens when you read Cornbread Nation 4 (Southern essay-style food writing at its finest), buy Crescent Dragonwagon’s Cornbread Gospels cookbook, and decide not to go back on your raisin’, at least today.

When I had finished my morning repast of dainty (wheat-free!) cornbread pieces, dipped in molasses for historical accuracy, I had some left over for dinner.

Cornbread. Fish. We’re on to something here.

I dug around in the freezer for some tilapia, my favorite fish for baking. I decided upon a simple preparation: Sprinkle the fish with salt and garlic powder, then dredge in a mixture of breadcrumbs, freshly grated parm and some parsley.

The side dish required a little more creativity. I am attempting to ease myself back into a sugar-free, wheat-free diet, or at least significantly reduced. Although I really want pasta, I know that short-grain brown rice is my best option. It is thought by some to have detoxifying effects, not to mention lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber. It also has a lovely, nutty flavor, although the white-rice-addicted may need some time to adjust.

To dress up the flavor a bit, I decided to dice and sauté an orange bell pepper that has been languishing in my crisper, along with some carrot and celery. I also chopped some jarred roasted red bell pepper, just for a change in sweetness and texture, holding it to the side until the sautéed veg was ready to go into the rice.

While the brown rice took its sweet time cooking (45 minutes or so), I sautéed the veggies (too early, but no matter) and got the fish ready to bake.

Here I should note the obvious error of using breadcrumbs when I’m trying to avoid wheat. It was one of those autopilot moments — this is the way I’ve always made this recipe. Next time I’ll experiment with cornmeal and parm, but for now, this will do.

I salted the rice while cooking, but not much. When it was done, I stirred in the veggies, along with a healthy scrubbing of parm against my mighty Microplane. You might add a splash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce (the real kind, please), but don’t overdo it; this ain’t stir-fry.

Meanwhile, the fish baked for 10 minutes at 375 degrees on an oiled pan. You should check yours and adjust depending on the filet thickness; I recommend a thermometer to get it right without cutting into the fish (I use this one and cook to 145 degrees).

I reheated my beloved cornbread in the (gasp) microwave. I know, I shoulda put it in the hot oven with the fish. At this point I was desperately trying to get out the door to a girlie get-together, and I was lucky to take a photo for you (you’re welcome). I got a bite of fish. But reheated later that night, everything was lovely.

Oh, and the cornbread…it deserves its own post. Another day, my friends.

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