Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving Corn Sticks

I hope most of you have survived making and eating your Thanksgiving feast and now have a mountain of leftovers in the fridge. (I ducked out on the meal entirely.) 

Turkeys in my yard
But it occurred to me that I had a recipe for something that could be whipped up quickly and easily, and you can serve it along with all those leftovers. Corn sticks! Made with freshly ground corn in Plymouth!

I live about fifteen miles from Plymouth, and I’ve visited Plimoth Plantation more than once, though I’ve never attended their annual Thanksgiving feast. You can probably guess what’s on the menu, and the menu for that first 1621 feast is recorded in some original documents. Basically it consisted of wild fowl (including not just turkey but also swan and ducks and even passenger pigeons), venison, some shellfish, corn, and a few root vegetables, but no potatoes or cranberries. 

It was the corn that caught my eye, not because I’m wild about corn, but because of the Plimoth Grist Mill. It was built a bit later than the first Thanksgiving, in 1636, next to the brook that runs through Plymouth, for the purpose of grinding corn. It was run by John Jenney—who was my tenth great grandfather. The original mill burned down in 1837, but was recreated on the same site in 1970, and still operates—and grinds corn. 

I just happened to have some of that ground corn in my fridge, and this seemed like the ideal time to use it.

There is a recipe on the bag, but it boils down to (yes, a bad pun) boiled ground corn. So I went hunting for something slightly more interesting. I happen to have a copy of the Williamsburg Art of Cookery, which is a couple of generations later than anything from Plymouth, but it includes an easy recipe for corn sticks, and how much could they change? I am have plenty of corn stick pans, including my mother’s.

Williamsburg Cork Sticks

(once again, I made a half-recipe, which yielded seven corn sticks)

3 cups corn meal
3 cups milk
2 eggs
2 Tblsp melted lard (I used butter)
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder

Stone milled corn--you can see it's coarse
(not included in the printed recipe):

Mix everything together. Be sure to mix well so all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Preheat the oven to hot (let’s guess 450 degrees?). Grease the corn stick pan(s) and set in the oven to heat.

My mother's pan
Pour the mixture into the slots in the hot pans and bake for about 20 minutes (or less, depending on the size of your pans). The corn sticks should be golden (if you take them out too early, they fall apart when you try to take them out of the pan).

All things willing, my holiday novella, Tied up with a Bow, will be released at the end of this month by Beyond the Page. No, it's not set in Plymouth--it's in Ireland, where Christmas decorations are just going up in the village of Leap. And Maura Donovan is holding a raffle of sorts where people can guess just what those decorations are!

Stay tuned for order details!


  1. I would love to see Plimoth Plantation. There is a working mill close to where I live, but on a much smaller place than Plimoth. How wonderful to know your grandfather was the actual miller!
    I am looking forward to reading your new book!

  2. Is that a flock of wild turkeys in the first picture?

    Growing up we made corn sticks. Tasty, but I remember they loved to stick in the pan!

  3. What a neat bit of family history. And I envy you your corn sticks pans!

  4. I have my husband's maternal grandmother's corn stick pan hanging in my kitchen! Need to put it to use with this recipe. I love that grist mill picture, and didn't realized you lived so close to Plymouth, Sheila! One of my old friends Barbara moved up there a few years ago to be close to her son's family! I've seen fabulous pictures of the area. Very cool. Thank you!