Friday, October 12, 2012

Cornbread Mix

You know Mom's getting desperate when...
The other day I needed a dinner menu that was very convenient, very easy to prepare, and not at all cognitively challenging. Also, there needed to be slightly better than a snowball's chance in Hell that my kids would eat at least some of it. (The little dears seem to be more picky and behaving more obnoxiously at the dinner table lately, which is for sure going to drive me to drink an unreasonable amount of TJ's Two-Buck-Chuck Shiraz if our newly posted Mealtime Rules don't have their desired effect soon. See photo at left.)
While cruising the aisles of Trader Joe's with my little guy Hunter that morning, I decided on TJ's Turkey Chili (in a can; reheat and you're done) over tortilla chips, and cornbread made from TJ's Cornbread Mix.
I like making cornbread. I've never made it entirely from scratch, but I've had good luck with mixes. For awhile I was using a Marie Callender mix that required only the addition of water before baking, and it was moist and tasty, and the kids loved it. On this day, however, I found myself in TJ's staring down the Cornbread Mix and decided to go for it.
I like this cornbread's texture: it's a little grainy; the cornmeal used is ground coarsely enough to keep the bread from feeling too cake-like. It's also got---and please hold your judgment till the end---a very, very mild vanilla flavor, which sounds hideous, I know, but which actually works here and complements the flavor of the corn.
(Note: The vanilla is SO mild that at first I couldn't even place the flavor. I knew there was something ever so slightly different and yummy going on, but I had to read the ingredients list to know what it was. "Vanilla powder." Bingo! Tangential thought: Is it the same kind of vanilla powder the barista uses in my vanilla latte at our local coffee shop? I wonder.)
The cornbread's preparation was simple: Add oil, an egg, and milk. Combine. Bake at 350. Done!
Now the oooooooone little thing that bugs me just a smidge and will keep me from buying this mix too, too often is that it contains more sugar than I'd like. Sugar is, in fact, the second ingredient---it even beats out cornmeal for second place after wheat flour! One serving contains 15 grams of the stuff, which, if memory serves, was more sugar per serving than Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies.
So while this cornbread mix won't become a staple of my pantry because of the sugar content, I won't hesitate to buy it again next time we do a Chili Night (or even a "Chile Night," as I accidentally typed the first time around. "Hey, kids, who wants to discuss Pinochet and his Caravan Of Death over dinner this evening?" Also, did you know Chile is the longest country in the world in terms of length-to-width ratio? Thanks, Wikipedia!).

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