Shortnin’ Bread Meander

Today’s blog post began back in May, with a comment I made in response to Robbie Cheadle’s recipe for corn bread on her blog, “Robbie’s Inspiration”: #Flashfiction – Extra Nutrition.  I commented that my favorite corn bread is made in a cast-iron skillet, and she suggested that I share it. Naturally, I agreed. However, I can’t just plop a corn bread recipe on my writer’s blog apropos of nothing, so I’ll have to meander my way to it . . .

In the header photo, my mother and her twin sister are enjoying a tea party at the Economy Point farm in Nova Scotia. Their menu is lost to time, but let’s just pretend they’re eating shortnin’ bread. They are seated at the little red table my grandfather made them for playtime.

My little brother George and I also sat at that table for playtime, which often included listening to records. One of our favorites was American Folk Songs, in particular “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin’  Bread.”

I went to YouTube to find the version of the song I remember from childhood, only to discover that early recordings of the song are quite racist, as is John Whitcomb Riley’s poem based on the song.

So I’ll share Mississippi John Hurt’s version instead, as it conveys the innocent spirit of the song I remember from childhood. I’ll also share The Tractors’ rendition of the song because they completely transformed it to their signature style, yet the song is still recognizable. And, well, they’re The Tractors.

Shortnin’ bread could be made with either flour or cornmeal. Corn bread is also made with cornmeal. George and I ate our corn bread with lots of butter and molasses.

Corn Bread Waiting for Butter and Molasses

And here is my favorite recipe for corn bread!


160 thoughts on “Shortnin’ Bread Meander

  1. Sweet memories. Your photo of your mother and her twin remind me of my two 22 month old twin grandsons who I am taking care of now while their parents work, sitting at the playschool table I bought them to eat lunch. The bond between twins is so special and magical to see. I love cornbread and make it all the time. Sweet post Liz.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz, during the last months in our region – Ticino-yeast had been sold out in many shops , because people took up making bread again at home so they didn’t have to go out! Yesterday I just bought a maize bred! Unfortunately I am not sure whether I really understand the difinition of “shortnin bred”. Is it everyday’s bread? Thank you very much and best regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shortnin’ bread was a traditional quick bread in the American South during the plantation era. Doing some Google searching for recipes, there appears to be little agreement now about what it actually is. My understanding is that it was made originally with with cornmeal or flour and lard. Cornbread is also a quickbread (made without yeast); it includes eggs and milk.


  3. Liz, I love your post, a perfect mixture of memories, music and a recipe! A lovely introduction to cornbread and the photo of your mother and her sister is adorable. I wonder do you still have the little red table made by your grandfather? The cast-iron skillet is similar to one that my mother still has and uses – blimey, it’s heavy but she insists that it’s the best! Oh, The Tractor’s music video is terrific, a lot of fun and silliness and a very catchy tune. A post to brighten up a grey Monday afternoon!😀 Hope you’re keeping well! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Annika! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it. I no longer have the little red table my grandfather made. My daughter used it when she was little, and it finally fell apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do love a good cornbread. However, being vegan, my recipe had to adapt and I never could simply follow a recipe I have to make it my own. I use a flax-egg and plant milk then I zest a lemon and throw in some fresh thyme… It’s different but I like it as do the friends I’ve shared it with.

    Liked by 1 person

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