I planned a vacation to northern Georgia expecting to see lots of waterfalls and to do hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but I did not necessarily expected to find inspiration for a recipe. On our first day we drove to the closest town, called Blairsville to pick up some food to cook while we were at our cabin. We drove by Logan Turnpike Mill on the way there. They were closed at the time but I knew this was going to be a definite stop in the days ahead. The store carried all kinds of cornmeal and pancake mixes. I brought home the old-fashioned speckled grits, which included the germ and bran from the milling process and was told by the store owner, Cecilia that they are more nutritious. I was discussing the recipe possibilities with my daughter on the drive to our next waterfall hike and she mentioned that when she cooks cornmeal on the trail at camp, they toast it before cooking. That sounded like a good way to add a flavor twist to cornmeal pancakes and that is how this recipe got started. If you have standard store bought grits, you will want to shorten the toasting time since you will be working with a finer grain. I have included a quick corn salsa to add as a topping but you can use a tomato based salsa too. At the end of this recipe, I have shared pictures of our vacation stops in Georgia.
Toasted Cornmeal Cakes with Salsa
By Inspired by the Seasons
- 1/2 c coarse cornmeal
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 c buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 chopped green onions
- Vegetable oil for cooking
In a 10" skillet warmed under medium heat, add the cornmeal and toast until light golden brown. This will take about 3 minutes with intermittent stirring. Immediately transfer to a large bowl to stop the cooking process. After it has cooled for about 5 minutes (which is a perfect time to make the accompanying salsa) add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix together with a whisk.
In a small bowl combine the egg, buttermilk and sugar. Then add to the larger bowl, stirring only until the mixture is barely smoothed out. Stir in the green onions.
Add oil to a heavy nonstick skillet and place over a medium high heat on the stove. Ladle on the better using a 1/4 c scoop. Flip the cakes when bubbles form at the top, about 3 minutes then cook 2 minutes on the other side. This recipe makes 12 cakes.
In a small jar, combine 2 T olive oil, 1 T lime juice, 1 clove of garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover with a lid and shake until combined. In a larger bowl add 1/3 c cooked black beans, 1/2 c corn and 4 chopped green onions pour lime mixture and toss together.
Spring is a wonderful excuse to take a vacation. The month of March can be bleak at times here in the Midwest and heading south to take in the first signs of greener days ahead is always appealing. This year, I had the added excuse of going somewhere with my daughter who is a high school senior. She and I both cooler temperatures so a tropical destination was ruled out early on in the planning process. Hiking was something we both enjoyed and since most of mountain hiking is snow bound throughout the United States in March, we ended up making our destination in northern Georgia. Our cabin was located right next to Blood Mountain and turned out to be a central location to many waterfall hikes as well. Below is a slide show of our adventures.