Grandma's Texas Cornbread
Every summer when we'd visit my Grandma Bess, there were two things you could count on: lots of love, and cornbread. She made this recipe throughout my childhood, and I always loved it. It's best made with bacon drippings, but I never have those around so I like to use high-quality unsalted butter. It is delicious as a snack: toasted, buttered, and placed in the bottom of a bowl with whole milk poured on top! We used to call this "milk-toast," which could also be made with toasted whole-wheat bread.
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups cornmeal, finely-ground (a coarse grind will not feel very nice to chew, with all the hard bits)
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
3 Tbsp. white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
Set oven to 350° F. Put the butter in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, and put it in the oven. Let the butter melt while the oven warms up, about 5 minutes. (Watch out! never leave hot oils unattended or in reach of children, and don't set the heat so high that the oil "pops" and burns you.) Remove butter from oven. Grandma used to save the drippings from cooking bacon on the stovetop in a glass jar next to the oven; it works well and tastes better than butter, if you have it.
Measure the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar into a big sifter. Gently sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, discarding the larger bits of corn left in the bottom of the sifter. Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the beaten eggs and buttermilk. Mix well, and add the butter that you melted in the oven. Stir until the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Pour batter into the 9 x 13 pan (the melted butter will have already greased the pan so the batter won't stick during baking). Spread the batter smooth with a spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.