We Southerners like our cornbread. Its golden deliciousness is second only to Grandmama's biscuits in the hierarchy of bread in the South. Sometimes, though, just plain 'ole cornbread won't do--so we put 'stuff' in it. What sort of 'stuff?' Well, now, that depends. Might be cheese, might be corn, might be something else, maybe even something surprising. As long as it's baked up in a cast iron skillet that's so well-seasoned it's a good half inch thicker than it was when your great-great grandmother bought it...ahem...right. We bake it in cast iron.

So, here it is, the cornbread...with a secret. (The secret isn't really secret--it's just called that so the cook (often known as "mom") doesn't have to spell out that there are vegetables hiding in all that yellow goodness.

The 'stuff':

1 cup cornmeal (yellow cornmeal, duh)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder (for the love of all that's holy--check the expiration date)

1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar (that's the regular stuff. you can use splenda. it'll be okay.)

3 eggs (yay, eggs. i love yellow food)

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli (erm, I thaw it before i put it in...and chop it up a little more. and drain the water/whatever that liquid is...also, no harm in using fresh broccoli. in fact, it's recommended if you can get your hands on it. which, you know, you should be able to.)

12 ounces cottage cheese (I usually squeeze this stuff through a cheese cloth. It's fun, a great stress reliever, but if you do that for this cornbread, it'll be a little dry.)

5 tablespoons margarine, melted (margarine...how did that get there? BUTTER! /sigh Looks like mom's been editing my recipes again. Bless her heart.)

1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (this is really very important. also, it's kind of yellow. kind of.)

Now, the assembly and baking of the cornbread is fairly simple. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees--that's 175 C for you folks who use it. This next part is very important. Are you reading carefully? Good. When you turn the oven on, pour a few tablespoons of oil in your cast iron skillet and put that bad boy in there while the oven's heating up. Trust me. You will not regret this. (Unless you're one of those people who preheats the oven for an abnormally long time, then you will regret it. You'll also regret that your entire house is filled with acrid burnt-oil smoke.)

While the oven preheats, mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the wet stuff. This ain't rocket science, people, it's cornbread. Don't overmix. That makes the cornbread funky. And nobody wants funky cornbread. Trying for a smooth batter is pointless, here, folks--there's chunks of stuff in it. Not gonna change that. :)

The last couple steps are pretty obvious--carefully (and by carefully, I mean use an oven mitt) remove the hot (didja get that? HOT!) skillet from the oven, fill it with cornbread batter, and then place said skillet *back* in the oven, and bake for approximately thirty (30) minutes. If you can wait until it's cooled to eat it, more power to ya.