Sunday, June 10, 2012

Birddog Mouths and Hummingbird Rears

We’ve a relatively new addition to our household, a black labrador who had lived on the lam in a neighboring town until the police picked her up. After a brief stint at the police station, she was relocated to the local veterinarian’s office where my husband and I met her and offered her a home. Black Dog loves her morning walks with Hubs. She wakes him early with a cold nose to his face and dances around until he leashes her to greet whatever awaits them outside. After an especially long walk this fine morning, Black Dog re-entered the house and was simply beside herself with pleasure. She immediately pounced on a squeaky toy, chomped on it giving it a full chirpy voice and then flopped over onto her back to wallow on the rug. She’s an especially vocal girl so she grumbled and growled her delight. Her floundering about turned into gleeful tail chasing. Her frenzy so completely absorbed her that she bit her own tail! Bear with me because there’s a moral to this story.  

In last week’s Frugal Poet post fellow poet, Curtis Dunlap, thought he’d caught me making an egregious error in the kitchen by using self-rising instead of plain cornmeal to make squashpuppies. Curtis was just beside himself with pleasure over his discovery that I’d taken a shortcut. He immediately pounced on the idea to call me out on my sleight-of-hand, chomping on the notion until giving it a full chirpy voice. He’s an especially eloquent man so he politely and delightfully rhapsodized his revelation in his blog post. His glee was so complete that he entirely missed my point! Shortcuts aren’t the problem - it’s what sneaks in through the back door when using them.

The only difference between the one cup of self-rising cornmeal I used when making squashpuppies and one cup of all purpose corn meal is the inclusion of 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt in the former. There was a huge difference in his using a canned biscuit shortcut in his Crockpot Chicken and Dumpling Recipe from my insistence that biscuits from scratch are better. For those wishing to indulge themselves in a pure buttermilk biscuit, you can find the recipe with a full ingredient listing here. In the spirit of further educating our readers, I went to the grocery and bought a sleeve of canned biscuits to save you the trouble of sorting out the differences and to better illustrate precisely what sneaks in a back door when taking his suggested shortcut. The ingredients in a sleeve of one major brand of canned biscuits is as follows: enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, soybean and palm oil, sugar, hydrogenated palm oil, baking powder, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, wheat gluten, dextrose, whey, mono and diglycerides, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, TBHQ (preservative), natural and artificial flavor and, finally, added color. All sorts of things traipsed with an engraved invitation into Curtis’ kitchen by using canned biscuits! So I suppose the moral to this story is twofold. Firstly, beware who you invite to dinner. Secondly, don’t let your birddog mouth catch up with your hummingbird rear.


¾ cup self-rising cornmeal
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground red pepper
6 medium-sized yellow squash, finely diced
1 small onion, minced
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
vegetable oil

Combine first 5 ingredients into a bowl. Add minced squash and onion and toss. Lightly beat the egg into the buttermilk, add to vegetable/cornmeal mixture and blend well. Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch in heavy skillet and heat to 350 degrees F. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into hot oil and fry a few minutes on each side, until golden. Drain on paper-lined plate and lightly salt while still hot. Since you’re working in batches, the batter may eventually thin to an undesirable consistency; if so, add just enough additional cornmeal to tighten its consistency. Zucchini works just as well in this recipe as yellow squash.

A good recipe and a poem for your health. Salud!

a slight turn
reveals something new -
mango moon


  1. YUM! These sound delicious. I'm looking forward to cooking some up in the near future. Looks like they are similar to latkes but with squash/zucchini rather than potatoes.

    1. They're awesome, Angie! I hope Susan fixes another batch soon.

      Just 'tween you and me, I don't care that Susan used self-rising corn meal. I just had to find something to respond to in reference to Susan calling me on my use of canned biscuits in a recipe. :)

  2. Susan sensei, methinks you verbally whumped my butt...just now, though I had to read your excellent post thrice to come to that conclusion. :)

    Of course, a rebuttal will find its way onto these the not too distant future.

    Frankly, your putting the student (me) in his place has left me at a loss for words (imagine that, Curtis, at a loss for words!) Ha! :-D

    1. Just made up a batch. They are some kind of good just as I expected. I used my mandolin and shredded yellow squash and zucchini together with the onion, fried up the batch golden brown, and topped mine off with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives.

      I don't fry much these days, and Susan's squashpuppies are worth the production.