Thanksgiving was on my mind. As I browsed through the November issue of “Better Homes and Gardens,” a recipe for pumpkin cornbread caught my attention. I made it and took some to a friend who loves to cook (and eat). She really liked it and wanted the recipe, so I phoned her and gave it to her.

“You need 6 tablespoons of melted butter,” I said. “Take 2 tablespoons of this butter and oil a 12-inch iron skillet. Mix the remaining butter with 1 cup buttermilk, an 8-ounce carton of sour cream, a lightly beaten egg and ¾ cup canned pumpkin.”

“Wait a minute,” my friend said. “How much butter am I supposed to use?”

“The butter that’s left over after you’ve removed 2 tablespoons for the skillet,” I reminded her.

“Oh, yeah! That’s right,” my friend remembered. “What else?”

“In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups cornmeal, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons corn flour,

2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice. Whisk the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, pour it into the skillet and bake it for ~25 minutes in a 350-degree oven.”

“Thanks,” my friend said. “I’m going to make it this weekend and freeze it for Thanksgiving.”

On Saturday evening my friend called me and said she had made the pumpkin cornbread, but it didn’t turn out like mine. “Hmmm,” I said. “I’m sure I gave you the right recipe.” Then, remembering that my friend liked to cook creatively, I asked, “Did you change anything in the recipe?”

“Well, just a little bit, ” she said. “I didn’t have any corn flour, so I used regular flour; I decreased the amount of sugar; and I figured that I didn’t need the baking powder since the recipe already called for baking soda. I used regular milk instead of buttermilk and I increased the amount of milk since I didn’t have any sour cream. Oh, yeah! I didn’t have any pumpkin spice, so I used nutmeg.”

“Wow,” I said, tongue in cheek, “I can’t imagine why yours didn’t turn out like mine.” There was a moment of silence, and then my friend laughed. “All right, all right,” she said. “I’ll make it again and follow the recipe.”

“Good,” I chuckled, “Have some mercy on your Thanksgiving guests.”


Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...