I was going to make my beloved Acorn Cornbread on Thanksgiving day. But, as things went, our household decided to go to the Indiana River that morning, to give thanks to Mother Nature in our own way. It was an incredible morning, with a light drizzle of rain, and fog drifting all over the forested mountains. I swam in the very cold river., and sang, and we all sang and howled like the pack of happy little creatures that we are, out in the wild with no one around. We saw an incredible rainbow, and, later, Monica brought us to see a whole field of Darlingtonia plants, which completely blew our minds.
Not to mention, that on the way there, a whole flock of wild turkeys gobbled along a road side while we drove slowly by, admiring their beauty. My housemates talked to the turkeys from the inside of the car, saying things like, “We’re so glad you’re so alive!, ” and “Be free, little ones!” and although I could appreciate these well-wishes, I have to admit my canyon-ized self was also wishing we’d thought to pack a shotgun in the car along with our jars of tahini, and that it hadn’t been so long since my last target practice with Wolf.
By the time we made it back home, most folks across the country had already cooked and eaten all their turkeys, stuffing, and pies. Who knows how many casserole dishes of marshmallow covered sweet potatoes had already been consumed by the time Hollie began making her Three Sisters’ Stew? She made this lovely dish with black beans, and corn and squash she’d walked all the way to the farmer’s market with Kat, to purchase and lug home.
So, I did make some really lovely gluten free masa cornbread, to go with the stew, and with the Pomegranate Walnut Green Olive Salad that Kat and Thaddeus and Musick helped me with, the Roasted Root Veggies, and the many other delicious side dishes that our potluck guests brought. But the acorns hadn’t been shelled yet, or leached, so I enlisted Thadeus’s help to make this happen, for Acorn Cornbread at a later date.
By the time the Acorn Cornbread had finally been made, about a week after Thanksgiving, some changes had taken place in the household, and in our personal dramas. But the important thing is, that the acorns helped to bring me back to myself, as they always do, no matter what else is going on. Thank you Oak trees, thank you acorns, thank you Mama Earth, for all your wild medicine, and for the chance to share it with one another.
Acorn Cornbread with Masa
Some folks (like Kiva, for instance), have a much easier time digesting masa harina than regular cornmeal. Masa is made of corn that has been nixtalimized (treated with lime, or in ancient times, with ashes). This pre-fermentation of the corn helps it be more digestible to the body. Still, it may not work for some people with corn allergies, but might be worth a try, depending on the individual.
I love cooking acorns with corn. Their flavors marry so beautifully, and I can’t help but imagine that the people of the ancient corn growing tribes may have done the same, to help stretch the domestic grain anytime acorns were abundant.
In the post that precedes this one, I explain the acorn processing very simply. In my upcoming book I go into greater detail. You can substitute almond or hazelnut meal if you like, but of course the flavor will be different!
I tripled this recipe for the giant panful I made recently, and we certainly had no problem, eating it up!
3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
1 cup coconut milk or buttermilk
1 cup acorn leaching water, from the final leach, or plain filtered water
2 tablespoons honey, melted
1/2 cup acorn meal (or almond or hazelnut meal)
2 cups masa harina (finely ground lime treated cornmeal, same stuff that’s in tamales)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the melted oil or butter, eggs, honey, coconut milk or buttermilk, water or acorn decoction. Sift together the baking soda, salt, and cornmeal into the bowl. Then stir in the acorn meal. Add the masa and whisk it into the batter until it’s evenly incorporated. If the batter seems a little too thick, add a little more water. Scrape the batter into a prepared pan, and bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until the center of the bread is done.