Drinking in MFK Fisher

The Los Angeles CityBeat - Drink Issue 2009 had me chuckling over my gin and tonic this morning, especially Paul Brennan and Will Swaim's piece, "Tough Hooch for Tough Times," on replicating Whittier-raised M.F.K. Fisher's recipe for home made vodka.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the issue on the newsrack: MFK Fisher headlined on the cover of Los Angeles City Beat. This town's looking up.

I've been turning to Fisher's ode to cooking during wartime rationing, How to Cook a Wolf, a lot during these tough economic times as I search for substitutes for foodstuffs beyond my budget.

A new discovery has been crackling bread, an old fashioned recipe Fisher calls "a cheap and pleasant way to use something that otherwise would be wasted, and to give at least a savor of richness and solidity to a supper that might, without it, consist of plain cornpone and a glass of milk. [A delicious supper, cracklins or no.]"

Crackling Bread, p 94 from How to Cook a Wolf

1 cup cracklings, diced [Modern day cheat: substitute pancetta, corned beef leftovers or a bag of pork skins from the 99 Cent Store, if you'd like]

1 measure of cornmeal pancake-flour


1 1/2 cups cornmeal

3/4 cup wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour milk

Cracklings are the pieces of meat remaining after the lard has been rendered from the fat (Pork in the South). Make the prepared batter or misx and sift together the dry ingredients, add the milk. Stir in the cracklings. Form into oblong cakes and place in a greased baking dish. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) about 30 minutes.

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