President’s Day: With Charity and Corn Bread for All
Today, President’s Day, it is my duty to break the news to you, fellow animal lovers — Abraham Lincoln did not say, “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” Just because you read it as an internet meme does not make it true. That’s the danger of the internet (and may I say, the danger of our current president, the man who coined the term “fake news” even while creating it).
Lincoln may well have loved animals, I would certainly like to think so, but he had other things on his plate, including a nation at the brink of war and the death of his son Willie. These are irrefutable facts of Lincoln’s life, which George Saunders spins into his dazzling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. Taking place largely in a metaworld between the living and the dead and populated by characters both historical and invented, Lincoln in the Bardo is clearly fiction. It taps into our shared humanity. It resonates, it feels true, but never tries to pass itself off as history.
We’re on more solid factual ground with Rae Katherine Eighmey’s culinary biography Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen which tells us Lincoln cooked — a little — and ate — a little. He didn’t go for fancy. According to his White House secretary, he liked a good, strong cup of coffee and wouldn’t say no to a pan of corn bread. Neither should you. Nourishment and comfort are needed at this fractious time in our country’s history. So is action. So let us come together as Lincoln actually did say, “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” And hey, have some corn bread, too.
- 7 tablespoons vegan butter (definitely not in the larder in Lincoln’s time but happily it exists in ours
- — there’s something to be said for modernity)
- 1-1/2 cups corn meal Lincoln might have gone for white corn meal, but I’m a gritty, yellow kind of girl
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder. Yeah it seems like a lot. Trust me.
- 1/4 cup aquafaba
- 1-1/2 cups unsweetened soy hemp or oat milk
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegan butter in a 9-inch ovenproof skillet or baking dish and place in the oven to melt, about 8 minutes, long enough to make the rest of the corn bread batter.
- In a large bowl, sift together corn meal, unbleached flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pour in the plant-based milk, aquafaba and about half the melted vegan butter, leaving the rest of it in the baking dish.
- Stir wet ingredients into dry, using a light hand until just combined. Batter will be thick. Spoon into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Corn bread is done when it’s risen, smells buttery and has formed a tawny crust that demands a nibble or two. It should spring back after a gentle poke.