Last night, it snowed in Seattle. For those of you who live in the Midwest or the Northeastern part of the United States, this may not sound like much to you. But here, in our lovely grey-skied city, snow is an event worth mentioning. It seems to snow only once or twice a year, if that. Some years, it never snows at all.
(Of course, that means that anyone who drives here in the snow is suddenly a big, panicky ninny. More people abandon their cars by the side of the freeway in two inches of snow than I can tell without being embarrassed for my fellow Seattleites. The Chef, who comes from Colorado originally, continues to be amazed.)
This month is just a few showers short of being the rainiest month in Seattle history. That’s over 15.33 inches of rain, folks. It has poured and lashed and blown sideways and drenched us and continued, unrelenting, for twenty-five days straight. Normally, I proclaim proudly that Seattle rarely lives up to its outside reputation of raining all the time. Pshaw, I want to say. It’s practically balmy here. But you know what? This month? I was ready to take an ax to a tree and start hewing wood for an ark. Sheesh.
Yesterday afternoon, however, the black clouds loomed over the mountains, the sky swirled with wind, and the air nuzzled against our skin with cold fingers. The Chef looked up and said, “It’s going to snow today. You watch it.”
About four in the afternoon, as we drove back from an hour-long stroll through one of our favorite grocery stores, I saw white flakes swirling in front of our headlights. “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” Imagine me driving, and clapping my hands in front of my face in a dozen little claps, bouncing up and down in my seat. After the Chef put a hand on my leg to remind me to not do all this while I drove, he also giggled. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was laughing at me. A man from Colorado, driving in a car with a woman who grew up in Southern California, exclaiming over twenty-five flakes of snow.
But, it turns out, he was simply delighted. He loves how much joy I take in life. He loves how happy the simplest moments make me. He enjoys it because he reacts to life the same way. So, he was merely laughing near me.
Several hours later, after we had cleaned the kitchen and prepared dinner, we looked outside to see all the sidewalks covered in snow, the streets slicked with white, and flurries dancing under the street lights. “Hey, let’s go for a walk,” he suggested. Absolutely.
Bundled up and holding hands through heavy gloves, we walked down our familiar sidewalks transformed into white silence. We shook tree branches, remarked that the shadow of snowflakes on the ground looked like gnats dancing in abandon, and stuck out our tongues to taste the new snow. Seriously, we were like a montage sequence out of a romantic comedy. I know — we’re pretty sickening.
However, it didn’t take us long to turn to thoughts of food. “You know what I would love on a night like this?” he said, squeezing my arm. “Chili and cornbread.”
“Oh yes,” I said, our pace quickening simultaneously to reach home faster. “With sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.” He had already started marinating the pork tenderloin, so we would have to save the chili for another day. But the cornbread? We had all the fixings. Half an hour later, we were eating.
The night didn’t feel so cold after that first bite.
GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD, adapted from a recipe on the PCC website
½ cup white rice flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
¾ cup cornmeal (like you would use to make polenta)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons rich, high-quality honey
2/3 cup plain, gluten-free yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons melted butter
Turn the oven on against the cold and let it preheat to 400°. Grease a square or round baking pan with your favorite oil or butter.
Mix the gluten-free flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set that bowl aside.
Measure out the sour cream, butter, honey, and melted butter. Mix them all together. Whisk in the eggs and beat them all together until the liquids have become a coherent mixture.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir it all together until just moistened.
Pour the cornbread batter into the pan and bake the cornbread for twenty minutes, or until the top has reached the golden color you desire. Let it cool for a few moments.
This cornbread is particularly good with soft butter and the same honey you used to make the batter.