A Good Pone Will Sweeten Your Life
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Pone isn’t a very appetizing sound. It is a four letter word and it sounds like something not pleasant. Most people have heard of corn pone, which is essentially a simple bread, but there are some variations. Versions on the basic corn pone recipe use different bases and make apple pones, pumpkin pones, and sweet potato pones.
Pone pre-baked batters can be enriched with sweeteners like sugar or molasses to change the flavor and spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or grated orange peel to jazz it up. Some cooks consider the addition of sugar a deviation from the original idea. My theory is there are no wrong deviations as long as you like to eat it.
There are many variations of sweet potato pone in historical cookbooks, using additions like rose water or orange blossom water. Pones can be a dessert or served as a side dish for pork or wild game. Read a real old cookbook and it’s nuts how much lard and wild critters are in the ingredients.
My favorite pone, and I’ve made it many times, is one by Marcelle Bienvenu from her cookbook “Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, And Can You Make a Roux?” My answers to the book’s title questions; your cousin, Phyllis; yes and isn’t everybody somehow; and for sure as long as I have a longneck in my non-stirring hand.
This recipe won’t ask you to make roux or declare your particular religious sect (heathen friendly) or list your genealogy. It is a sweet potato pone and it is tasty and very simple.
Marcelle says you’ll need one egg, one cup of sugar, one stick of margarine (I use butter), two cups of grated sweet potatoes, a quarter teaspoon of salt, half a cup of milk, and one cup of chopped pecans (I’ve used whole ones or even walnuts or even done without).
Here’s how she says to do it; beat the egg and melt the margarine and mix it with the grated sweet potatoes, salt, and milk. Just easy hand mixing in a big bowl is fine, it will look like a stringy, orange goopy mess. Plop and level it all in a buttered casserole form and bake at 325 degrees. I use a ceramic pie form, made in Ohio by Longaberger that my sister Peggy gave me 30 years ago. Leave the pone mix in the oven for 30 or 40 minutes, then slide it out carefully. Marcelle says to then sprinkle the pecans on top, I usually push the nuts slightly into the layer of butter floating at the top. Put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so, and then it’s ready to take out for good.
Eat it hot or have it at room temperature the next day, a good pone will sweeten your life and make you smile.
This pone won’t solve economic stress, nor eliminate the pandemic, nor advance the common well-being of all, it will just be a few basic ingredients done simply. There’s a lot of comfort and reassurance in simple and good.