The Manship family often entered their best recipes at the state fair and frequently won in a variety of categories. In 1877, fifteen year old Minnie Manship won for the “Best corn bread.” Minnie’s older sister Kate owned the cookbook Common Sense in the Household, a Manual of Practical Housewifery, by Marion Harland, published in 1872. The cookbook offered the following information and recipe for corn bread:
There is a marked difference between the corn-meal ground at the South, and that which is sent out from Northern mills. If any one doubts this, it is not she who has perseveringly tried both kinds, and demonstrated to her own conviction that the same treatment will not do for them. An intelligent lady once told me that the shape of the particles composing the meal was different–the one being round and smooth, the other angular. I am inclined to believe this. The Southern meal is certainly coarser, and the bread made from it less compact. Moreover, there is a partiality at the North for yellow meal, which the Southerners regard as only fit for chicken and cattle-feed. The yellow may be the sweeter, but I acknowledge that I have never succeeded in making really nice bread from it.
Indian meal should be purchased in small quantities, except for a very large family. It is apt to heat, mould, and grow musty, if kept long in bulk or in a warm place. If not sweet and dry, it is useless to expect good bread or cakes. As an article of diet, especially in the early warm days of spring, it is healthful and agreeable, often acting as a gentle corrective to bile and other disorders. In the winter, also, it is always acceptable upon the breakfast or supper table, being warming and nutritious. In summer the free use of it is less judicious, on account of its laxative properties. As a kindly variation in the routine of fine white bread and baker’s rolls, it is worth the attention of every housewife. “John and the children” will like it, if it approximates the fair standard of excellence; and I take it, my good friend–you who have patiently kept company with me from our prefatory talk until now–that you love them well enough to care for their comfort and likings….
Receipts for Corn Bread made of Southern Indian Meal.
1 teacupful sweet milk.
1 teacupful buttermilk.
1 teaspoonful salt.
1 teaspoonful soda.
1 tablespoonful melted butter.
Enough meal to enable you to roll it into a sheet half an inch thick. Spread upon a buttered tin, or in a shallow pan, and bake forty minutes. As soon as it begins to brown, baste it with a rag tied to a stick and dipped in melted butter. Repeat this five or six times until it is brown and crisp. Break–not cut it up–and eat for luncheon or tea, accompanied by sweet or buttermilk.