Karen and I officially opened our blog in March of this year, but we started working out the details on how we wanted to proceed and what we wanted to say, as well as choosing a style for the blog and starting to build the site several months earlier in October.
We had both just decided to make the leap into early retirement from our 25+ year careers. This was accomplished in no small part thanks to the support our spouses gave us in making the decision. They could see that we had both grown weary of the jobs we had once enjoyed, and we would not have been able to make the leap without them standing behind us 110%!
As the words “early retirement” might suggest, we were by no means ready to go and sit in a rocking chair! My 6 year old certainly would never have allowed that to happen, and I didn’t want it to happen either. The career I had grown tired of was officially behind me and I was ready to get on with new things – many of which I had dreamed about doing for years. One of those things was this blog.
Karen and I had actually talked about the idea for almost a decade, but with full time careers we really didn’t have the extra time. She made the early retirement choice first and when I followed a little over two months later, I immediately asked her if she was ready to finally start that food blog. We had the time at last to start making some of those postponed dreams a reality, and she jumped right in with me.
So, what is the milestone that I referred to in the title? Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the very first blog entry that I had ever written. Even though we weren’t officially open yet, I wanted to start building my confidence as a new blogger by getting some entries under my belt. As I mentioned above, we wouldn’t be here today without the support of our spouses, and I felt it was appropriate for me to write my first entry with my wife Lori in mind.
I had decided to take a shot at creating a copycat recipe of her favorite soup from Panera – Autumn Squash Soup. At that time we were still in the earlier days of the pandemic when dining out options were either limited, unavailable or still didn’t feel like a comfortable option to us. As such, I wanted to do something that would give life during that fall season a bit of a more normal feel by making a restaurant like option at home.
When Lori tasted it she gave me quite a compliment by saying that I had come pretty close to the original. She enjoyed the soup, I enjoyed the experiment, and I felt a sense of accomplishment from having written my first blog entry ever. The soup is more on the sweet side and I had always thought that it should be paired with some sort of savory side – that is where the second half of the title for this entry comes into play.
After keeping the idea on the back burner for the past year, it was time bring it out and work on it. After some thought, I decided that some type of cornbread would pair well with it and even better, a cornbread with a bit of a smoky flavor. So, I worked with a basic cornbread recipe and turned it into the recipe below.
Bacon Cheddar Cornbread
- 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 3 slices crisp thick cut bacon crumbled (use 4 slices if you don’t have thick cut)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand until they are well combined and the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. The batter will be on the thin side, but will thicken a bit after a few minutes.
Let the batter stand for about 5 minutes while you grease a 9 inch round pan. Stir the batter once more, pour into your prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
We really enjoyed the smokiness that the bacon gave to the cornbread along with the flavor that the cheddar brought to it. Also noticeable, but not overwhelming, was the hint of parsley flavor. As I had hoped, the savory flavor of the cornbread paired well with the sweeter flavor of the soup.
We had a fair amount left over, so I refrigerated the rest and contemplated what to do with it. The next morning I came up with a quick and easy idea – why not try to make French toast with it? It had everything you might serve for breakfast all rolled into one – bread, cheese and bacon! So I dipped some slices in beaten egg and grilled it in a pan and it turned out to be delicious – I think we liked it even better that way!
There you have it, the food pairing that was a year in the making – I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of my first blog entry. I look forward to writing many more and celebrating the official one year anniversary of our blog in March!
Until next time, I hope you all have a great weekend!