Today's brunch: blue cornbread with fresh picked cilantro, homemade hummus and tangy (homemade) pickles.
I am slowly regaining confidence with using the cast iron skillet. While I still cannot pick it up with the broken arm, mainly because I do not yet have any grip strength in that hand and the weight is prohibitive, I can at least hold the pan steady on a surface. I really like the way corn bread bakes in a cast iron skillet.
The recipe was loosely based on one from the first cookery book I purchased in the USA, from a Kapa'au publishing house on Big Island, Hawaii. Incidentally, for the longest time I tried (unsuccessfully as it turns out) to live in Kapa'au. For its remoteness and for the community which produced publications like this cookery book.
A feature of this cookery book is the quotations from notable people, who were/are vegetarian or vegan, which are scattered in text boxes throughout the recipes.
The book also has useful section on resources and vegan products, which may or may not still be available a quarter of a century later. The downside of the book, from a librarian perspective, is that it is absolutely horribly indexed. Finding a specific recipe is frustratingly arduous. Maybe if I had tried harder to join that community two decades ago, I could have made a difference to their publications. "Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden..." T.S. Eliot.
My personal adherence to recipes is kinda loose. I generally use a recipe as a rough guide, useful mainly for proportions/ratios of ingredients. I give myself permission to add, substitute and improvise liberally.
This methodology keeps kitchen alchemy engaging and interesting. There's always that element of the unknown in how the dish will turn out. The excitement for me is sometimes akin to a potter opening a kiln after firing.
For today's crispy, crumbly and satisfyingly filling cornbread I used blue cornmeal, whole wheat flour, amaranth, garbanzo flour and almond flour. I do not have semolina or rice flour so did some improv with what was in my cupboard. I used only 1 tablespoon of jaggery because I always reduce sugar in recipes and I love the molasses flavour of jaggery. Other flavour in my cornbread today comes from just a pinch of salt, the tail end (about a tablespoon) of a purchased spicy Cajun seasoning mix which needed to be used up, coconut milk and olive oil.
I enjoyed this brunch with a coconut milk cardamom latte coffee while I researched and pondered the Battle of Puebla on 5 May 1862, when Mexican troops vanquished the French army. As an aside what were the French doing fighting Mexicans in Mexico anyway?
History, especially history of war, conquest and conflict, is full of strange bedfellows, revelations and alliances of convenience, especially when laid out on a world map. Motives seem sometimes suspiciously devoid of honour but often a whole lot more to do with the same ole same ole: land, women or gold. (See the previously mentioned Salman Rushdie's Victory City for a wickedly enchanting tale on the same theme)
I might not wear a (cheap, Chinese made) sombrero or knock back any cerveza or tequila today, but with my cornbread I mark the day in a way I think my Mexican American amigos would appreciate. Feliz Cinco de Mayo amigos y amigas.