The Big Three

by jenna on May 27, 2010

Tonight something miraculous occurred. I turned down dinner with the boyfriend at my very favorite restaurant and instead opted to cook.

Eating out and cooking pull at the strings of my heart because I love them both so much. There’s really nothing better than a wonderful dining experience at a fabulous restaurant, usually involving cheese, wine and good seedy bread. I like to tell people that I’m a professional eater. I love the whole experience of dining out, from the folded napkins to the mints at the end. This is probably why I felt so at home in France, when eating is the day’s main activity. I would love nothing more than to go out for a two hour breakfast, move onward to a three hour lunch and then end the day at a fabulous restaurant. Exercise would be in the form of moving from one restaurant to the other. I don’t really see a problem here.

Exhibit one (know this girl?):

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Exhibit two:

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And three:

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For some reason I don’t go out to eat as much as I used to. I have no idea why.
I won a bet with the boyfriend (another post for another time) and therefore was awarded Zazu tonight. However, I had something else on my mind. Something where only a certain red cast iron skillet would be worthy….

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I bring you beans, greens and cornbread, people. A magnificent trilogy perfected by the South and loved for generations. The Big Three, if you will. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some pulled pork but I also just love the simplicity of homemade baked beans and cornbread made by scratch, in a cast iron. Obviously. Because I’m a caring girlfriend, the idea popped into my head about dinner tonight while strolling through the aisles of Trader Joe’s today. I reached for some tofu and then, out of the corner of my eye, saw some pre-made barbecue pulled pork and thought wow I might just win girlfriend of the YEAR if I give ______ this tonight. Who turns down dinner at their favorite restaurant to feed their man pulled pork? Brilliant. 548,921,000 dinners out to come. Sometimes you just have to think out of the box.

Girls, its simple really. Our mothers were correct: the key to a guy’s heart IS through his stomach. Why do you think I took out 40K in student loans to go to culinary school? I kid. I kid. But seriously, guys like food. Sometimes you just gotta bring home the bacon.

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I, on the other hand, really didn’t feel like pulled pork tonight. But I did feel like one of my very favorite dinners of baked beans and cornbread. So, I loaded up my cart and got to cookin’. I made my classic baked beans and used a recipe for skillet cornbread out of the bible.

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It turned out a bit more grainy and dense than I would have liked (I grew up on sweet fluffy cornbread and like it that way), but honey can fix anything. I also sauted some red Russian kale and rainbow chard in some olive oil and garlic out of this week’s veggie bag that I picked up fresh this afternoon.

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Yum!

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I just ate a soy pudding cup….just because.

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Danica May 27, 2010 at 9:34 pm

mmhmm everything look so yummy!! I lovve love love southern BBQ food! Pulled pork is my fav and baked beans is a close second!
I’ve never tried cornbread, can you believe it?? I’d love to try some though and yours looks amaze =)

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Danica May 27, 2010 at 9:34 pm

mmhmm everything look so yummy!! I lovve love love southern BBQ food! Pulled pork is my fav and baked beans is a close second!
I’ve never tried cornbread, can you believe it?? I’d love to try some though and yours looks amaze =)

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Allie (Live Laugh Eat) May 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I swear, if I was Paris Hilton I would go out to eat just as you described! Allllllllll day loooong :) I’ve only made cornbread in the oven…I shall try the skillet next time.

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Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies May 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm

I would be a professional eater – if I could!!! :) Those baked beans look awweeesome!! I can never turn down cornbread either.

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Hayley May 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm

yumm! I grew up in Louisiana and currently live in Texas and I’m definitelyw well acquainted with the big three! :)) I had beans and cornbread tonight actually! (ran out of greens, ugh.) The south knows how to eat!

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Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] May 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Someday, when I met that nonexistent boyfriend, I am going to love to cook for him : )

Your plate looks delish – no pork for me either.

My aunt & uncle recently went to Zazu. I can’t wait to hear their full review.

Goodnight from another ‘professional eater’.

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Bethany @ More Fruit Please May 27, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Truer words have never been spoken! Cooking a comfort food meal will always win you extra girlfriend brownie points from the boy! Now if only the French ate cornbread….

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Laura May 27, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Never heard of the big three but they work perfectly together, i’m craving beans now

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Claire May 27, 2010 at 11:27 pm

You and Caitlin both really have me craving corn bread recently…

totally agree about the way to a man’s heart..

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molly May 27, 2010 at 11:41 pm

what do you think about this issue with michael pollan?

http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/2010/05/26/foodies_and_feminism/index.html

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molly May 28, 2010 at 5:14 am

i hate when links decide to stop working….

he’s another article dealing with the same thing

http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2010/05/27/did-working-moms-kill-the-family-meal-no-they-did-not/

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Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

Great dinner!! He’s very lucky to have you! I always think I’d make a fab wife, cos I LOVE food and cooking – don’t all men like a girl who can eat!?

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alana May 28, 2010 at 12:33 am

I remember you writing a guest post for someone (kerf?) about how you ate in france, and it was along the lines of “a pastry for breakfast, a sandwich from a vendor for lunch, and an omelet for dinner”…?

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Julia @ www.britbride.com May 28, 2010 at 1:24 am

p.s. you look better blonde!

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Kerry Dyer May 28, 2010 at 1:31 am

haha you’re pics are hilarious! xx

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Liss May 28, 2010 at 2:16 am

Jenna will share photos of your new place soon?

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is May 28, 2010 at 3:23 am

Pulled pork is my favorite, especially with cornbread!

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Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) May 28, 2010 at 3:45 am

I’m not southern at all, but sometimes I feel like I should have been. Those foods are SO comforting to me!!

xo
K

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Melissa Cari @ Miles for Markets May 28, 2010 at 3:53 am

The cornbread popping up all over the blogs has me drooling! And I need to make an attempt at cooking rainbow chard. I’ve seen it at every farmers’ market I’ve visited but have been too intimidated by its beauty to pick it up yet. Next time. Definitely next time.

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Alison May 28, 2010 at 4:20 am

I’m not southern by birth, but I married a southern boy. Therefore, I adore beans and cornbread; I’d opt out of the pulled pork, as well. We like the sweet fluffy cornbread, too.
It’s true though, the stuff about the way to a man’s heart being through his stomach. If I made my husband spaghetti or homemade chicken pot pie every day for the rest of his life, I’m pretty sure I’d get ANYTHING I ever wanted.

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Faith @ LovelyAsCharged May 28, 2010 at 4:50 am

I’d totally sign up for any job where you get to just eat at restaurants all day!

I was raised in Mississippi, but I have absolutely NO appetite for “southern” foods – no biscuits and gravy, no fried chicken, no mashed potatoes, and DEFINITELY not sweet tea…I guess I’ve known all along that I was a city girl at heart!

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M(a different M than the other M!!) May 28, 2010 at 4:50 am

Jenna,
Looks yum!

Have you ever added blackstrap molasses to your baked beans?
it’s is HEAVENLY,I can’t recommend it highly enough…you simply have to try it….even if you just add a bit while you are heating up these leftovers (dd a teeny bit at a time to taste to not overdo)

YOU MUST TRY THIS!!!!! (I hope ;)

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Sara @ myfancytuna.blogspot.com May 28, 2010 at 4:55 am

LOL I love the Big Three – so true! If only you had eaten collards instead of rainbow chard…

That kind of life in France sounds pretty heavenly….sign me up.

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman May 28, 2010 at 5:01 am

I love cornbread. I love it even if it’s dry, but more if it’s moist and has real pieces of corn in it. I’m not a big fan of Southern food (I’m a Northern girl) but cornbread? Yes please.

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Jaclyn May 28, 2010 at 5:15 am

Born & raised in GA…I know my southern food. I can still recall exactly what my granny’s kitchen smelled like when she was baking cornbread (which is not allowed to be sweet, if we’re going for authenticity ;)). I must admit I was slightly horrified when I saw the amount of shortening she used when making it, but I chose to block that part out while eating it :).

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Becca May 28, 2010 at 5:27 am

You cornbread looks awesome. I’m equal opportunity cornbread lover – sweet, grainy, thick, thin – doesn’t matter to me. Yum and yes.

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Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly May 28, 2010 at 5:27 am

cornbread and honey might be the most perfect combination ever!

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Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) May 28, 2010 at 5:32 am

That looks like a great combo! I love beans + cornbread. :D

Jenn

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Jess May 28, 2010 at 5:43 am

Speaking of Paris, my husband and I are going there in September (can’t wait!!!). Any restaurants you particularly recommend? I think I more excited about all the amazing food and wine than sightseeing.

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Emily Eats and Exercises May 28, 2010 at 5:51 am

With all of my gazzilion kitchen gadgets, I don’t have a cast iron skillet! I think that needs to go on my list very soon. Yum.

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Lisa May 28, 2010 at 5:52 am

Yes, feed a man & he’s happy! A few years ago at my in-laws we were looking through old cookbooks and little pamphlets and one was titled “Cakes Men Love.” It was circa 1950 and all retro looking! But we all laughed wondering what cakes men DON’T love???? In all fairness, food makes me pretty darn content as well!

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Rachel May 28, 2010 at 6:10 am

Mmmm that looks delicious!! I love love love Southern food. Can’t wait to find a guy who I can cook for!
Also, that rainbow chard is beautiful! I love the pinkish stalks!
I totally know what you mean about France and their eating…when I was there I was always looking forward to the next meal. Each one was a new experience and such a treat!

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eatmovelove May 28, 2010 at 6:16 am

I want to go to France now.
Sounds like the way I’m meant to live!

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Jo May 28, 2010 at 6:26 am

I love your comments on eating out. I feel the same way and never knew how to put it in words. I, on the other hand, love food (eating out only) and hate cooking.

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Jo May 28, 2010 at 6:27 am

I love your comments on eating out. I feel the same way and never knew how to put it in words. I, on the other hand, love food (eating out only) and hate cooking.

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kalli@fitandfortysomething May 28, 2010 at 6:28 am

that looks delicious! can i be your boyfriend?

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Helen May 28, 2010 at 6:36 am

I love the look of Southern Food, so homely and delicious. You are so right, a way to a man’s heart is definitely food!!

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Dee May 28, 2010 at 6:37 am

wow! dinner looked great!

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Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) May 28, 2010 at 6:45 am

Forget men, the dinner you whipped up is the way to MY heart! ;)

Southern comfort food- delish! I gotta whip something similar up for my hubby soon- he’d love it!

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Jessica @ The Process of Healing May 28, 2010 at 6:47 am

YUM!!!! That is a true southern meal right there.. one of my most favorite things in the entire world is pinto beans and cornbread. Oh yes. I am proud of my Southern girl roots!

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Tina May 28, 2010 at 6:49 am

Awww HLS 2009! Love it! I don’t love my spray tan, however. HORRIBLE!!! LOL!

Excited to see you NEXT WEEK! :)

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Brynne May 28, 2010 at 6:50 am

I could live off cornbread, and yours looks amazing!

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Annie D. from Annie'sSimpleLife May 28, 2010 at 6:57 am

YUM!! I need to get a castiron skillet.

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Stacy (StacyGrowsHealthy) May 28, 2010 at 6:58 am

I bet he loved the homemade meal. I totally get what you mean about being torn between cooking and going out. Going out is great, but sometimes a home cooked meal at your own table is more enjoyable all around.

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Kristina @goodnweird May 28, 2010 at 7:02 am

OH YUM. I love the big three. Might be making an appearance on my planned meals in the next few weeks.

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing May 28, 2010 at 7:13 am

Oh I am with you!! Dining out and cooking are my #1 and #2 favorite hobbies ever. I love the whole, get dressed up, eat amazing food creations thing, but sometimes it is so nice to eat something you’ve made with your very own hands with the ones you love :).

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Kristin (Salty Tooth) May 28, 2010 at 7:19 am

I need a cast iron skillet ASAP!

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Evelyn @ cheers2healthy May 28, 2010 at 7:25 am

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a real Southern plate to eat. I find it a little daunting hahaha : P I feel like I need to eat someone who will talk to me about how SOULFILLING the meal is so I can appreciate it the right way :D

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Heather (Heather's Dish) May 28, 2010 at 7:30 am

mmmmmmm there’s nothing like a great Southern meal…and there’s definitely a reason that people say the way to a guy’s heart is through their stomach…because it’s true!

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 28, 2010 at 7:37 am

As a Louisiana girl, you know I love the big three. Although in Louisiana, our big three often involves gumbo, fluffy white rice, and crusty French bread. Call it the other big three :-)

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Camille May 28, 2010 at 7:48 am

That cornbread is making my mouth water!
Looks like a great dinner!

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Andrea May 28, 2010 at 7:49 am

I absolutely love where you live. My sister was just married in Sonoma at the end of April at Viansa Vineyard. We were able to spend a week in Sonoma. It is so beautiful there! I am jealous that you get to live there everyday. Thank you for sharing all of the great pics! I love your website.

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saveur May 28, 2010 at 7:50 am

There is so much to eat and so little room in my tummy! Sometimes the real good restos cry to me. But just ok and subpar restos never make it to my radar since I think I could do a better (and cheaper) job myself! ;)

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katie anne May 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

this is definatley one of my favorite meals. sometimes when im in a lunch or dinner rut,ill take canned tuna or salmon and pour on bbq suace and have a sorta kinda not reallyish pulled pork, no tuna? sandwich. lol tastes good thats sall i know! have u ever have spoon bread. when my family and i go on vacation to williamsburg VA they serve it for bfast…with warm maple syrup…heaven!

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Hayley @ Breath of Fire May 28, 2010 at 8:03 am

Soul food! Looks delicious. What would you do if you had to choose between the big three? I know it’s blasphemous. But I’d probably pick cornbread.

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Sarah for Real May 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

All this talk of cornbread! You and Caitlin are making me buy a little cast iron skillet next month… darn it all.

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Kelly May 28, 2010 at 8:26 am

Yum! I love cornbread and actually grew up eating both the grainy and dense version as well as the sweet and fluffy version. They’re both so good with butta! :)

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jennifer (take the day off) May 28, 2010 at 8:29 am

I have been craving baked beans like whoa–I will use your recipe for sure. And most likely will just copy your whole menu. Delicious!

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Kellie May 28, 2010 at 8:31 am

Cornbread is my favorite food. I look forward to Saturdays because that is usually when I get my cornbread fix.

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Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy May 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

I also love to eat out and wouldn’t mind going from restaurant to restaurant! Unfortunately, we’re trying to save money so that’s definitely not happening now! It probably wouldn’t be so great for my health anyway, so I guess that’s a good thing! :)

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Michelle @ NewLeafEats May 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

I do recall the now-husband pseudo-proposing to me when I presented him with a dinner of leftover pot roast that I had freshly spiked with worcestershire and soy sauce, extra seasoning, and served over rice. He is now very proud to be married to a woman who can cook!

On a side note, I’ve lived in Texas all my life and have eaten many a barbecue dinner, but never in my life have I see greens being offered. It’s all beans, cole slaw, potato salad, maybe cornbread, and the barbecue beef (BRISKET!). I’m all for the barbecue beef, and I have nothing against beans and cornbread, but I’d like to see some greens now and then. Clearly I’m hanging with the wrong crowd!

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Tammy (Defining Wellness) May 28, 2010 at 8:57 am

Is it just me, or is cornbread one of the best foods ever? I agree, sweet and fluffy is the way to go with cornbread. What a great girlfriend you are!

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Teresa May 28, 2010 at 9:33 am

Do we get a picture tour of the new place???

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Deanna May 28, 2010 at 9:38 am

Sometimes, I wish your blog came scented :) hehehe

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saveur May 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

There is so much to eat and so little room in my tummy! Sometimes the real good restos cry to me. But just ok and subpar restos never make it to my radar since I think I could do a better (and cheaper) job myself! ;)

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Ellie May 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

MMMM. . . That looks so good. Such a southern meal-beans and greens! One of my Dad’s favorites (my Dad is Southern)

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Raya @ Raya Runs May 28, 2010 at 10:52 am

Everyone keeps making cornbread!!! I might have to get some.

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Rachel May 28, 2010 at 11:18 am

That dinner looks so yummy!!!

It takes me forever to get through books. I would love to join your book club but could never keep up. The actual reading part isn’t the problem, but it takes me FOREVER to get through a book. I only read a page or two at night before bed and reading seems to put me to sleep instantly.

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Rachel May 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

That dinner looks so yummy!!!

It takes me forever to get through books. I would love to join your book club but could never keep up. The actual reading part isn’t the problem, but it takes me FOREVER to get through a book. I only read a page or two at night before bed and reading seems to put me to sleep instantly.

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Kate May 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

A pasta dish or a bbq steak with a side of potatoes, maybe some shrimp skewlers as well or some pizza would win him over.
He’d run away if I served him beans with cornbread. LOL

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Katrina (gluten free gidget) May 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I love baked beans and greens stuffed in a baked sweet potato! Heaven!

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Veronica May 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm

I cant believe nobody shared this already –

the SECRET to soft, fluffy cornbread is to soak your cornmeal in the liquid for 20 minutes before you prepare the batter. I use buttermilk, but even water or milk is fine. Takes the grittiness right out.

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diana@mymarblerye May 31, 2010 at 8:05 am

if i went to culinary school i wouldn’t eat out as much either..especially if i can impress my hon with my skillz.

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Sarah (American in Australia) September 30, 2010 at 5:27 am

I know this is very late, but add some cottage cheese to your corn bread (mess with the dry/liquid ratio) and it is light and fluffy and beautiful! My daddy sure can cook. Not quite as great as you though! Living in Australia makes me miss American food, cornbread for sure!

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