Sunday, March 3, 2013
Sunday Morning "Johnnycakes"
If you're thinking about what to make for Sunday morning breakfast you couldn't go wrong with trying Johnnycakes, one of America's oldest "walking breakfasts". Anyone who's watched Andy Griffith would know that Aunt Bee will set the breakfast table and serve Johnnycakes. And on Little House On The Prairie, little Laura will be toting rolled up Johnnycakes with applesauce in her school lunch bucket.
But Johnnycakes, or hoe cakes, have been around far longer than that. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth they found their barrels of flour had gone bad. It is said that Squanto, the Indian friend who befriended the pilgrims, helped them to find a cache of corn meal buried by local Indian tribes. The Pilgrims used that cornmeal to make Johnnycakes. In fact, the name Johnnycakes itself may be derived from an old Shawnee Indian word "janikan" which were small corn pancakes that could be rolled up and put in a pocket as a meal for the road.
My mother called them hoe cakes. I suspect that's because you could whip up a stack of these little corn cakes, roll them up and take them out to the fields to snack on while hoeing cotton. Mom said they were a staple in lunch boxes when she was a kid. Cheap and easy to make, they were a filling lunch when nothing else was available.
Troops from both sides of the Civil War often survived on hoe cakes or Johnnycakes when nothing else was available. The troops simply mixed together bacon grease and corn meal and fried them over an open fire. If a pan was not available you simple wrapped a wad of dough around a stick and held them over the fire.
But no section of America can lay claim to originating Johnnycakes. Be they hoe cakes in the south, or Johnnycakes in the Northeast, they remain one of America's oldest breakfast fare. Johnnycake festivals are still held in the Northeast and they serve as a warm and filling breakfast on a cold winter day.
There are many different recipes for Johnnycakes; some include flour and sugar and some believe in sticking to the old original recipe. Here's one of the oldest, most basic recipes for Johnnycakes:
One Cup White Cornmeal
3/4 tea spoon salt
1/4 cup lard or bacon drippings.
1/2 cup milk
Mix all ingredients then spoon drop mixture into a greased hot skillet. Use the back of the spoon to flatten out the cakes. Brown on each side. Serve hot with butter and jelly or butter and maple syrup.