11.326 Corncake


26 (Thu) November 2020



by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (20) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)

While reading my way through the 99 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922 – leading up to the 100th winner to be announced next year – I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book.  Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, literally give us this day our daily bread.  The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.

Reading it while at the cabin, I left the book out on the deck, where it got wet in a sudden rainstorm.

Lincoln: A Photobiography (1988) by Russell Freedman.  As the title would suggest, the book is a biography of Abraham Lincoln, from his childhood to his death.  Written in the style of a middle school text book, along with period photos and drawings – one of two non-fiction books among the 99 winners. 

It was okay, perhaps the first time that I’ve ever really studied Lincoln.  

I used “instant polenta,” which comprises coarsely ground cornmeal – yes, I know, polenta is technically a dish, not an ingredient, but that’s what it says on the package.

Unfortunately, the book does not mention a single item of food.

Fortunately, quite a bit of scholarship has been conducted on 16’s eating habits.  I had no idea until I googled: “What did Abraham Lincoln eat?”  Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times (2014) by Rae Katherine Eighmey lists recipes that Mr Lincoln actually cooked himself, purportedly.  Lincoln’s Table: A President’s Culinary Journey from Cabin to Cosmopolitan (2008) by Donna D McCreary seems to be the source of a commonly held belief on the internet that corn cakes were his favorite dish, and that he had once boasted that he could “eat corn cakes as fast as two women could make them” – if the other book were true, then he should’ve cook them faster for himself.

The recipe in Lincoln’s Table calls for buttermilk, which is unavailable in Korea, so I added Greek yogurt and lemon juice to whole milk.

Corncake is an American dish.  Essentially a pancake with cornmeal or cornflour rather than wheat flour.  Also known as a “hoecake” in reference to the traditional rural method of cooking them on hoes over an open fire.

It was okay.  Similar to a pancake though a bit grittier in texture, sweeter in flavor, perhaps closer to cornbread.

Come to think of it, the corncake looks a bit like the Newbery Medal.

With maple syrup.

More importantly, I was reminded in reading the book that President Lincoln had established Thanksgiving in 1863 as a national holiday to be celebrated together as one nation on the last Thursday of November every year.  Such leadership, such inspiration, such a simple yet profound act of unity – at the height of the Civil War, arguably the most divisive crisis in American history – seems especially poignant during our own political/social/economic/health crisis currently at hand.

Washington DC

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Abraham Lincoln

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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