Cornbread and Beans…

We ate a lot of cornbread this summer and not all of it good.  Often I found it too cakey and extremely sweet . When it was good, however, it was fantastic.  Stand out cornbread experiences included my friend, Nanette’s kitchen, the dining hall of the Folk School and an excellent brunch in Marché Artisan Foods, Nashville.

Since returning I’ve made this version by Anna Jones several times.  It’s a coriander and chilli spiked version made with cornmeal and fresh corn.  Not very traditional, perhaps, but a cracker of a recipe.

PS If you don’t know Anna Jones, I highly recommend her cookbooks.  All dishes are vegetarian and I’m yet to find one that underwhelms me.

Floyd, Virginia

This summer we spent three weeks in the States.  I flew over mid-July and taught at the wonderful John C Campbell Folk School then David joined me and we began our road trip from Nashville through the Smokey Mountains then up and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was fabulous.

Since returning I’ve been planning on posting about some of our travel and food experiences.  So let me start here…

One of our favourite stops was towards the end of our trip – Floyd, Virginia.  It’s a tiny town just off the Blue Ridge Parkway known for it’s jamboree.  Every Friday night musicians from the local area and further afield gather in the town to play.  The main event is in the Floyd Country Store where musicians play and folk dance from 7pm until late.  Outside on every street corners bands also play.  The crowd was a mix of musicians and dancers, locals and visitors, young and old. It was an amazing experience and one we’d love to repeat.


Our accommodation for the night was just outside of Floyd itself. A tiny wee cabin in the woods with an outdoor shower and toilet, it was .  Had we not been flying home the following day, we would have asked to stay an extra night.


Red Currant and Almond Muffins



I forgot we had red currant bushes. In years past, what little crop was produced was eaten by the birds.  Not sure what happened this year but we have more red currants than we can handle!  Red currants have topped salads and cereals and they’ve been made into jelly and cordial.  The best way to eat them is by the handful straight from the bush but these muffins are a close second for me.

Red Currant and Almond Muffins

150g plain flour
100g ground almonds
3 tspn baking powder
Pinch salt
50g caster sugar
1 egg
225ml milk (plus extra if required)
60g butter melted
1 cup red currants
1 tblspn almond extract

  • Preheat oven to 190oC and butter a muffin tin.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl then stir in the red currants until evenly distributed.
  • Briefly whisk together the wet ingredients and add to the bowl. Use a large metal spoon to fold ingredients together. Do this briskly and do not over mix. Add a little extra milk if required.
  • Spoon batter into tins (approx ⅔ full). Bake for 25 mins until risen and golden on top.