Two summers ago, I took my two best girlfriends to Austin for a much-needed vacation. We were all in the middle of grad school: Esther for chiropractic, Emma for physician assistant, and me for agronomy. Two doctors and a farmer is an odd group, but we sure fit together well.
I drew on my college experiences at Baylor as a road map. Waco is great town, but with Austin 101 miles south, we found ourselves driving south quite frequently…if only to catch a good football game. (Sorry, Bears, I know you’re better these days. Sic ’em!)
I had a few things on the agenda: the Texas BBQ trail, Whole Foods headquarters, honky tonking and frozen margaritas. Oh, and cowboys. Lots of ’em. In tight Wranglers.
We hit the ground running. Straight off the plane we went to Iron Works BBQ for dinosaur ribs. Without even time for a nap, I was planning our night dancing at The Broken Spoke. If any of you have ever been there, try to imagine how to explain to two Californians that while The Broken Spoke is a honky tonk with Willie Nelson and George Strait as one-time regulars, there is no line dancing. Ever. Line dancing is simply not permitted. It ain’t that kind of place. It’s the kind of place you eat chicken fried steak, sip Lone Star or Shiner, and wait for cowboys to politely ask you to two-step. I like to think Emma and Esther were blown away by Texan men: they look you straight in the eye, compliment you honestly, lead you to the dance floor by hand with their other hand gently touching the small of your back, and return you to your seat (complete with a chair pull-out). Ah, gentlemen. The likes of which we rarely see in California. Sorry, boys.
After a raucous dancing spree that included no less than 3 marriage proposals, we called it a night. I could hardly believe we were just on a plane from California that morning, and yet we had so effortlessly slipped into the scenery and good times in Texas. It was as if I never left.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I popped out of bed the next morning with Whole Foods on my mind. I force-fed Esther and Emma gingerbread pancakes and migas at Magnolia Cafe to quell their hangovers (Kerbey Lane, you have the other half of my heart and you know it). I purposefully packed light in preparation for all the goodies I would be buying in Texas: Hatch green chiles, Herdez brand tomatillo salsa, dried chile pequins, Anniversary Shiner beers, pecans in their shell, and Texas-grown blue cornmeal.
I’ll have to save the rest of the trip for another day. Besides, I’ve already made Esther and Emma sweat enough as it is. They were worried I was going to tell y’all that within 15 minutes of walking into The Broken Spoke, I had them doing the Cotton Eyed Joe, complete with kicks and the obligatory shout “Bullsh*t!” Oops. But then to get back at me, they would tell you that a 48-year old man named Chandler offered me 5 acres and 4 horses if I would marry him. No, thanks, sir.
Of course you may subsitute regular yellow or white cornmeal in this recipe. Just make sure it’s stone-ground.
I like these for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs. They’re also delicious with 3 tablespoons of shredded cheddar and 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos stirred in before baking.
Makes 6 muffins.
- 1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 400. Grease 6 muffin cups or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter.
- Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, let set for a minute before scooping it into muffin cups and baking for 12-15 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve immediately with extra butter, they dry-out as they cool.