I was in line with a week’s worth of groceries in my cart. There was someone in front of me checking out a full cart, too. The elderly gentleman behind me had only 2 items. I told him to go ahead of me since I figured I couldn’t even empty my cart before he would be done.
As we waited for his turn, he announced his intent to make a big pot of pinto beans in the pressure cooker. He mentioned his ingredients with his eyes sparkling, anticipating how good that bowl of beans would be.
I asked him if real cornbread was on the menu, and he grinned, confirming that it had to be baked in a black iron skillet. I heartily agree. We discussed how we both made our cornbread and shared a tip or two with each other on freezing those beans if there were lots of leftovers.
He confided he was widowed, and his wife had died from a stroke just shortly before their 50th wedding anniversary. He didn’t realize just how much I understood that loneliness will propel one to engage a total stranger in conversation.
It could not have been more than a 2 minute interaction at best, but I felt as if I made a small difference in that gentleman’s life that day. Listening, empathizing, and sharing our mutual enjoyment of good old country cooking.
The Lord reminded me that small joys, such as those beans and cornbread, are to be savored and appreciated, even in the midst of loss. That opportunity to engage with others, share our interests, our sorrows, our hope, can happen anywhere, even in the checkout lane of the grocery store.
Speaking of hope, this gentleman’s last comment to me was a reference to the Lord, and the promise of seeing his beloved wife again. It made me happy to hear that.
I shared my bean recipe with you yesterday. Here’s my recipe for cornbread baked in a black iron skillet.
2 c. self-rising white cornmeal mix-I use Martha White cornmeal mix or White Lily (Make sure it is a cornmeal MIX as this has the leavening in it.)
Buttermilk-(about 1 to 2 cups)
Vegetable oil-2-3 Tbsp.
Place eggs and cornmeal in a bowl. Add enough buttermilk to make a loose batter. Heat oil in a 10” iron skillet until hot and add batter.
Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes until browned and crusty.
Run a knife around edge of skillet and loosen from pan. Remove bread to a plate and serve with lots of butter.
Note: This is not a sweet cornbread like Jiffy mix (I love those, too!!), but it goes great with beans or soups.