Gems while Channel Surfing

I often wonder if anyone watches commercials anymore. Certainly not me. Although the network channels may all go to commercial at the same time – others do not and you can catch some little gems in those 2 to 3 minute breaks of channel surfing (or you can get a technology solution). One that I’m happy I landed on was an episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-in and Dives where they were in the kitchen making this persons “to die for” hoe cakes (cornmeal pancake). You know the drill, everyone in the restaurant raves, Guy exclaims “These are Money!” or one his de rigueur phrases, the cook walks you through making it. But, I heard the one phrase, “we follow the Joy of Cooking recipe”. Ha!  I have Joy of Cooking.  I wanted a good hoe cake recipe. yea! (and yes, in Julie and Julia the implication was Joy of Cooking didn’t make all their recipes before printing – but hey, I had a town’s approval so I was set to go). Folks in this place loved his hoe cakes, which he served as a side with dinner. Light, fluffy pancakes are wonderful but part of my brain condemns them as “empty calories”. I periodically pick up an assortment of organic whole grains to make whole grain waffles or pancakes so those calories won’t be quite as empty as white flour versions, but they usually go rancid or past their expiration before I get around to making a second batch (complete aside:  Cooks Illustrated printed a wonderful whole grain waffle recipe I will cook up and write about soon – the best part is you don’t have to run off and get rye flour plus buckwheat flour plus wheat germ and more that the recipe I had required).   Cornmeal, however, sees more use in my household. I regularly whip up a batch of cornbread in mini loaves or muffins from the recipe I posted here. The cornmeal pancakes are called hoe cakes in the South as field hands often cooked them on a shovel or hoe held to an open flame. Wikipedia says New Englanders refer to them as johnnycakes, but I’m from New England and always thought johnnycakes were some southern thing – go figure. Perhaps my “just off the boat” Irish heritage (rather than – point nose in air, “our ancestors landed on Plymouth rock” heritage) is why I missed the johnnycake name. The New England Indians are credited with teaching settlers how to make the fried cakes from cornmeal.  These fit my New Year resolution to embrace more whole grain cooking. I’d been a fanatic of it years back and am now determined to re-adopt my healthier habits.

The “delicate and good” notation printed under the recipe title is an understatement.  They are wonderful.  Give them a go some cold winter morning (or as a starch for dinner) – you’ll be pleased you did. I’m a fan of honey on mine, occasionally maple syrup mmmmmm heaven J.

Hoping you all know how to cook pancakes (get griddle hot so a drop of water dances across it when dropped is key). The small changes I make are that I usually find myself adding a bit more hot water to the cornmeal than the recipe calls for. Just a few additional splashes so that I don’t have so many obviously dry grains. You can see in the photo that it still holds together and is very stiff at the water and cornmeal only stage.


 Then, I will drag out the hand mixer, not so much for beating the egg, butter and milk but more because it makes it so much easier to ensure the cornmeal/water blend doesn’t retain any lumps. I also find that using the hand mixer at this stage makes them ever so much lighter (no mistake though – these are cornmeal and they are not meant to be as light as a pancake – it’s a different experience). I like them better than a pancake.

If there are a few folks around, I’ll make up a double batch as I want some of the batter left over to cook the next day. It refrigerates well. I use butter in the fry pan for the extra richness it brings.

I’m not the best photographer.  When I cook these the way I prefer, they photograph looking very dark and I haven’t been able to get a shot that’s “true”.  For the one below, I cooked it a tad light and it shoots how all my others look.  Someday, in addition to cooking, crafting, sewing, working, baking and blogging, I’ll trudge through my camera book and learn more.


For any of you not familiar with your keyboard commands – when I photo and place a picture of the recipe, it is easy for you to right click on that photo and then print it or save it as a picture (you can make a folder of pictures for recipes).  Not sure how many of you have tried to print a recipe from a blog and ended up with pages of comments and blog posts spewing from your printer before you could stop the print job. Besides, this way I don’t goof and mis-type something! 

Yes, I did watch more of DDD than the commercial break – but with Network TV can’t say I missed much of the show I’d been watching 🙂

If you’re interested in following my blog of crafts, sewing, recipes and the occasional post about my town – you can click in the right column to subscribe, follow in RSS, Facebook, Twitter or Networked Blogs.



9 comments on “Gems while Channel Surfing

  1. Miz Helen says:

    You really brought back a wonderful memory for me. My Grandmother made Hoe Cakes for me on her wood stove, I remember watching her turn them and they were so good. Thank you for sharing and you have a great week!

  2. girlichef says:

    Good comfort food! These remind me of my grandma 🙂 Thanks for sharing them w/ the hearth and soul hop this week!

  3. Maggie says:

    You two had great grandmas! I’d never tried hoe cakes until 2010 (almost said this year but that would’ve been wrong). Seeing them (as mentioned) on Food Network Diners, Drive-ins and Dives made me want to try them immediately (and I did).

  4. I haven’t had a good hoe cake in forever and I intend to remedy that. Pancakes are good but always leave me wanting…. I can’t wait to try your recipe and thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  5. I’ve done that very same thing with exotic flours because I’m a celiac, and a lot of gf recipe call for a flour “mix” which contains 56 different ingredients. But like you, cornmeal is something I have on hand because of my family’s love of cornbread. Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  6. Claudia says:

    Yea! These are good. I’ve been making them for quite some time, and just compared the Joy of Cooking recipe with the one on my old card, and they are pretty much the same, except mine uses oil instead of melted butter. I noticed she also has a recipe on the same page for Johnnycakes, which don’t have eggs, baking powder or flour in them. Don’t know which one would qualify as hoe cakes, probably the ones without the extras.

  7. Lyndsey says:

    Hi, I am enjoying your blog, this is my first visit here, but not my last. I am also a crafter and enjoy photography. Anyway back to the food….these are the only kind pancake that I had growing up, and that was in Michigan, but my mom went to school in the south and I think that why we had a lot of southern oriented food. My mom would make them from a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix, and she had The Joy of Cooking book too, hmmm…. I don’t eat pancakes now and I don’t think I liked the other kind as a kid. I was telling my daughter about these, and I didn’t want to use Jiffy, so this is perfect. Now we do have arepas often for breakfast, but those are savory, which I love.

    Anyhoo….again this was a nice post and I will let you know how they turned out!

    • Maggie says:

      Lyndsey – Thanks for stopping by. Right back at ya on visiting your blog as well. This hoe cake has become a staple for me, I think you’ll love it.

  8. Loving these little hoecakes or johnnycakes or pancakes – whatever you want to call them, they look great and I’d love a good serve of these for breakfast.

    Thank you so much, Maggie, for sharing them at Make it with … Mondays, challenge cornmeal.

    Sue 🙂

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