If you ever are lucky enough to take a trip to the South, you have to make a pit stop at Paula Deen's. Her Lady & Sons restaurant is located in Savannah, Georgia but the sassy entrepreneur smartly opened a second location at the Harrah's Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. Fortunatly, Tunica is not far from my old stomping grounds!
You can't go to Paula's without trying the hoe cakes! Hoe cakes are fried gruel made from yellow or white cornmeal that is mixed with salt and hot water or milk, and sometimes sweetened...I think up here y'all call them Johnnycakes. Hoe cakes in the South come by their name honestly. Field hands often cooked them on a shovel or hoe held to an open flame. Hoes designed for cotton fields were large and flat with a hole for the long handle to slide through; the blade would be removed and placed over a fire much like a griddle.
Before we left Mississippi to move to New York, my girlfriend made us 'hoe cake' kits. She put together all the ingredients in a Mason Jar and attached instructions on how to assemble the goodness. When I'm feeling really homesick, I whip up a batch and I'm good to go.
Here's Paula's recipe if you'd like to try it:
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal, or from a mix (recommended: Aunt Jemima's)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
Oil, butter, or clarified margarine, for frying
Mix well all ingredients, except for the frying oil. Heat the frying oil or butter in a medium or large skillet over medium heat. Drop the batter, by full tablespoons, into the hot skillet. Use about 2 tablespoons of batter per hoecake. Fry each hoecake until brown and crisp; turn each hoecake with a spatula, and then brown the other side. With a slotted spoon, remove each hoecake to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Leftover batter will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Try 'em sometime...y'all won't regret it!