Can I let you in on a secret? March is one of the most difficult months to eat local seasonal foods. Winter staples like squash, onions, cabbage. . . even apples are starting to seen humdrum. And, it will be at least a few weeks until local fresh produce is available. Usually, I cheat a little and buy strawberries and asparagus at the supermarket, and justify it by saying they are March fruits and vegetables. . . somewhere.
But, when I browse through hundred-year-old magazines, I’m keenly aware that people actually ate local foods that had been stored all winter during March back then.
I decided to that today I was going to make an authentic March food and began flipping through the March, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping. I came across an old recipe for Apple Johnny Cake that intrigued me.
This corn bread contains no sugar and feels healthier than modern sugared corn bread. The apples (I used Braeburn apples) embedded in the Johnny Cake are the sole source of sweetness, and work perfectly in this recipe.
The Apple Johnny Cake was good–though I must admit that I can hardly wait for the local spring fruits and vegetables to arrive on the scene (or I might cheat and buy some more Mexico, California, or Florida produce when I go to the supermarket tomorrow).
Here’s my updated version of the hundred-year-old recipe for modern cooks:
Apple Johnny Cake (Apple Corn Bread)
2 cups corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 apples, pared and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put corn meal, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk into a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in apple slices, and then put the batter into a well-greased 9 inch X 9 inch baking pan. Place in oven. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
And, here is the original recipe:
The Apple Johnny Cake was an interesting corn bread, but I wanted to also try eating it crumbled and served with milk as described in the recipe.
I broke a piece of Apple Johnny Cake into a bowl (and sprinkled it with a little sugar), then poured milk on it. It was surprisingly tasty. I can see why children enjoyed this dish a hundred years ago.