Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Funny how a simple question can open up a whole new can of worms, isn’t it? It all started as I was taking a pone of golden-brown cornbread out of the oven the other night. Cooked in a black iron skillet, of course.  Sorta like the miniature version of the one Mother used back home at Route 4. So I asked my mill-hill bride how she wanted hers. And that’s how the conversation got started.

No secret how I like mine. Sliced open and lathered in I-can’t-believe it’s-butter as soon as it comes out of the oven. With a tall glass of ice cold buttermilk on the side.  And to make the meal complete, a big bowl of hot pinto beans. Minus the pintos, I have been known to just crumble my bread into the tall glass of buttermilk and eat it with a spoon. Lip-smacking delicious!

Most of the time, my mill-hill bride likes hers without the butter. Just crumble it up in a bowl, no less, and pour some sweet milk over it. So we have ‘half-and-half’ cornbread at our house, half buttered and half not buttered. So I carefully wrapped the leftovers for another day in that clingy, see-through stuff. I like that sticky wrapping paper. It’s a miracle for those of us who can’t remember what they had for supper last night!

Back home on the farm, we had only two kinds of paper for wrapping food. Tin foil and wax paper. And that was only to cover the fried chicken or cat head biscuits that Mother was carrying to church for dinner on the ground after preaching. I don’t thing baggies had been invented yet. Didn’t need ‘em anyhow, ‘cause leftovers hadn’t been invented yet either.

The only time I ever saw anything ‘saved’ from one meal to the next was Sunday dinner. And that was because Daddy put the fear of God in any of us who even thought about taking the last cat head or last piece of chicken on the plate. “You better save something for supper, if you know what’s good for you. Your Mother is not going to fire up the stove on Sunday afternoon.”

My friend Darryl Addison and I were talking about that recently. Mother had two kinds of table cloths for that long kitchen table. One was heavy duty with a slick surface. It was always on the table. But on Sundays, she broke out another one that looked like a bed sheet. With it she just covered the food left on the table.

Then along about three or four o’clock, when we heard the snoring from the front room, we knew it was time for a sneak, uh, I mean a snack. You learned to be quiet as a church mouse and quick on the grab. Reach under the bed sheet table cloth, grab the first thing you touch, tip toe to the door, and very carefully let the screen door close. If it slams and wakes up the folks from their Sunday afternoon nap, you’re the winner of a guaranteed trip to the woodshed!

Oh, my goodness, I’m so far down this dusty side road, I can hardly see the main road. Anyway, back to my plain cornbread-eatin’ mill-hill bride. A couple of nights later, it was time once again for a cornbread-and-milk supper. And, it’s just as good two days later, even served cold out of the fridge.

That is, unless you pour cold milk on cold butter on cold cornbread! It was just the sweet way she mentioned ‘those lumps of cold butter in my bowl’ that got my attention.  Lord, help me not to make that mistake again anytime soon!

But all was forgiven when I brought home some tasty croissants for her favorite sandwich, chicken salad with grapes. Just saying that word makes this ol’ country boy giggle. Croissants. A fellow could get his mouth washed out with Octagon soap for sayin’ stuff like that!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m amazed when I think about how many different kinds of bread there are in the world today. Take loaf bread, for example. So many choices just in that one category. First, you have the standard white bread, and then you have the healthy wheat loaf. Then some marketing genius came up with white-wheat. Not to mention pumpernickel, rye, raisin ‘n cinnamon, and on and on. Is it just me, or does anybody else just love to smell hot buttered toast coming out of the toaster?

And then you have the modern-day version of cat heads. We call ‘em ‘bust-open biscuits.’ Grab a can and smack it against the edge of the kitchen counter and bust it open. That’s how you get to those little dollops of doughy delight. Too bad it takes about four of ‘em to equal one cat head.

But, you know, bread is a lot like people. Lots of different kinds in this ol’ world. While it’s no secret that I’m partial to hot, golden-brown, butter-dripping cornbread, you might be in love with those flaky, gobble-up-a-handful bust-open biscuits. Or somebody else is croissant crazy.  

While there are many different kinds of bread (and people), there’s only one Bread Maker. He’s the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and He loves every single one of his creations equally. He’s never made a ‘biscuit’ that He didn’t love. And while we might be covered in everything from syrup to saw mill gravy, His love and forgiveness will soften the crust on a three-day-old croissant. In fact, there’s only one kind of bread that won’t be found in His Kitchen.

Please don’t burn the toast!