Saturday, January 21, 2012

Exactly Like Cooking – Corn Meal Mush

Since I started this blog last year, I’ve looked back often at the tongue-in-cheek title. I thought that, like Derek’s delectable experiments, perhaps I should chime in with an offering of my own. However, I thought I’d aim for the opposite end of the culinary spectrum: the starving grad student.

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham -

Back in school, I not so fondly remember weekends where I had about $5 in my pocket until my next stipend check came in. Sometimes, a trip to McDonald's seemed like a fancy night out. Most of the time, though, I fell back on some tried-and-true favorites: soup, frozen broccoli, ramen noodles, or oatmeal.

But in terms of cost : hunger ratio, I never found a better recipe than this, a See Arr Oh family classic:

Fresh from the cheap, so good!

Corn Meal Mush (Prep time 10 minutes, serves 4)

3 cups boiling water

1 cup finely-ground yellow corn meal (I prefer Quaker or Goya, but any fine meal will do)
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold water

Procedure – Bring 3 cups of water to a rapid boil. In a separate bowl, pre-mix the cold water, salt, and corn meal together until a loose suspension (no clumps!) forms. Quickly pour the mixture into the boiling water with stirring, and reduce the burner heat to medium-low. Cover pot. Simmer the thickening corn mixture for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

We serve this warm at breakfast, with butter, pepper, and white sugar. I could imagine it seasoned to taste for dinner (cumin, hot sauce, red pepper, soy), or perhaps as a side dish (paprika, parsley, thyme) to a meat or vegetable.

Total Cost: $0.30-0.50 per serving, depending on spices and seasonings

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