I mentioned last night that I grew up a child of the South, eating foods that would later be labeled "Soul Food". As I went out into the big wide world, I would be delighted to see hush puppies on a menu and deeply disappointed to receive weird doughy deep-fried balls of dough that didn't resemble my mother's hush puppies at all.
Back in the day, my mother tried her very best to be a good cook but she most certainly was not. She doesn't care now, but when we were young it was a sore spot for her. Thinking I would boost her ego, I complained to her about the awful hush puppies I had at a street fair and the nerve of some people passing off such impostors. Mom actually blushed and told me that those were real hush puppies and what she used to make was known as hot water bread. And no, she was not going to make any for me. (She still won't give me her recipe for date nut roll, something I know involves vanilla wafers, pecans, evaporated milk, marshmallows, and dates but can't replicate. She assures me that I don't want to know. I've given up whining. She's 80 and I'm 60, time to let it go.)
Any way, the mention of hot water bread caught the curiosity of a few GT'ers, so I present to you the recipe:
from A Book of Favorite Recipes Compiled by First Baptist Church, Pitkin, Louisiana on their 75th Anniversary (1968)
Submitted by Virginia Kelley
1 C. cornmeal (white cornmeal is preferred in my family)
1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Mix the dry ingredients. Pour boiling water over meal mixture; stir. Add water, stirring well, until all dry meal is moist and a stiff batter is formed. Mold with moistened hands into patties, size of your choosing, or drop by spoon into hot grease, flattening with a fork.
Fry until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with butter.
Mrs. Kelley notes that if the patties are formed into a wiener shape, children will eat them with catsup.
These are different from hush puppies because they do not include milk, or eggs, or any other such expensive ingredients. They result in little cornbread cakes, crispy and hot, with a moist center. They are a must for black-eyed peas or a mess of greens