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Mother’s Day Reflections and Recipe

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Mother’s Day is Almost Here. Reflect, Honor, Celebrate (and Eat)

Mother's Day ReflectionsMother’s Day is a hectic time. If your mother is alive, then you’ve probably bought or sent her a gift. You may be planning on having her over for a meal. If you have children who are still at home, you’re planning to be “feted” (which actually takes work on your part).

Maybe you have a great relationship with your mother. Maybe not. Over the years, I’ve interviewed women about their lives, and have heard some wonderful and some horrible stories. These range from “gave me unconditional love” to “beat me and told her friends that I was ‘clumsy’ and always falling down”.

We idealize the concept of mothers. But reality takes over. In big ways and small ways, in good ways and in bad ways, our mothers influenced the women we have become. Mother’s Day is one official time I remember to reflect on these elements in my life. I hope you do too. At the end of this blog, I’ve included a few prompts to get you thinking or writing or journaling about you and your mother.

Mother’s Day, Mothers, and Traditions

On the lighter side, carrying on traditions is one of the ways that my mother continues to influence me. Sometimes, I’ve modified these traditions to better fit me. Sometimes I reject them outright. And when I am particularly wise (which is extremely rare), I urge my grown children to start their own traditions rather than continuing mine.

For example, long after my children were married, they continued to all came home for Christmas. I loved this — preparing food, buying gifts, planning outings. One holiday was barely over before I began planning the next year. But then I had an insight. They needed their own way of celebrating. I was robbing them of this pleasure. So at the end of the following Christmas, I gave each person his or her own stocking and said, “Take your stocking with you when you go home. Beginning next year you dad and I will be on a trip during Christmas. It’s time for you to start your own holiday traditions.” As you can tell, I didn’t completely give up on my tradition. I did assume they would somehow continue to use these decades-old stockings!

My Mother’s Cornbread Tradition

Before, I share my mother’s cornbread recipe tradition and how I carry it on, I’ll tell you a funny story.

A number of years ago, Lew, the salesman in my company, told me a great story of family traditions. His wife, Virginia, always cut a ham into two pieces and only baked half at a time. After a few years, Lew said, “Virginia, why do you cut the ham in half?” She replied, “Because my mother always did.” Time passed and they went east to visit her family. Lew asked Virginia’s mother, “Virginia tells me you always cut a ham in half before cooking each piece separately. Why?” She laughed and told him she’d learned that from her mother.

The following day, the entire family got together for a June picnic. Virginia’s grandmother, Lois, was in poor health, but came in order to spend a little time with Virginia.” After eating a double serving of potato salad, three deviled eggs, and a ham sandwich, Lew walked over with his plate of homemade strawberry shortcake to sit beside Lois.

He began, “Your daughter and granddaughter both cut a ham in half before placing one half in a pan and baking it. They tell me that’s the way you always cooked ham. Why?” Lois laughed, almost doubling over. Finally, catching her breath, she said, “Because I only had a small pan.” Lew told me, he thought that great laugh probably extended Lois’ life by at least several months.

Traditions. We carry on what we have seen as well as what we have been specifically taught. Lew’s “half-a-ham” story continues to tickle me. It is a small window into the relationship between generations.

Mother’s Cornbread Recipe (Almost)

Mother's Day Cast iron skillets

— My grandmother’s and mother’s cast iron skillets

My grandmother lived in Jasper, Arkansas for some years and that is where my mother was born. Then the whole family moved to Yale, Oklahoma, which was the first of several towns where they lived.

My mother learned to make cornbread from her mother and always loved to make it. The cornbread side accompanied many dinners when I was growing up. I can still smell the bacon-scented air when she pulled the hot cast iron skillet from the oven. She, of course, had generously oiled the pan with bacon drippings she saved in a small canister next to the stovetop.

I inherited the two skillets, but they are far too delicate (read ‘worn out’) to use. I get them out every so often, touch them, and can almost feel the strength of my grandmother (who left school after the 4th grade to help her family) and my mother (who left college during the depression to get a job). Many adjectives do not describe my mother, but I love to think of her as strong, and she was. (She was strong in a Rosie the Riveter We Can Do It! way.)

Chef Rosie

I asked Rosie to help me make my mother’s cornbread recipe for Mother’s Day. Hope you join her.

Cornbread in skillet
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5 from 1 vote

Honoring Mother's Cornbread Recipe, Vegan Guten-Free

Cornbread is a Southern staple. My grandmother's Arkansas recipe and skillets became my mother's Oklahoma recipe and skillets. The recipe and the skillet(s) were passed on to me so that I could carry on the tradition. Of course, when I became a gluten-free vegan, I said goodbye to the bacon drippings and eggs. Today I have my California recipe and skillets. And yet, every time I choose to make cornbread, I think of my mother and grandmother and all that I learned from them.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cornbread, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cornmeal, Quick Bread, Southern
Servings: 4
Author: Matilda Butler


  • 1 cup cornmeal whole grain, medium grind
  • cup corn flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plant-based milk (almond, soy, etc.)
  • 1 egg replacer (1 T ground flax + 3 T water mixed; or 3 T aquafaba; or 1 1/2 t Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 T water)
  • ¼ cup light oil such as canola
  • 2+ tbsp light oil for skillet or baking pans


  • Set oven to 400°
  • Measure oil into oven-friendly skillet and swirl to coat. Cast iron is preferred as it provides an excellent crust for the cornbread. If using small individual loaf pans, divide oil evenly. Put skillet into preheated oven.
  • In medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • In glass measuring cup or small bowl, combine milk alternative, egg replacer, and oil
  • Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Take hot skillet out of oven. Add batter into it, making sure it covers all the surface. The edges will begin to cook immediately. Return skillet to the oven and cook for 22 minutes. Top should be light brown. Test for doneness with toothpick. If more time is needed, cook for 3 to 5 additional minutes.


  • Not a vegan?
  • Not gluten-free?
  • Not a problem. You can use cow's milk and chicken's egg. (I know, we usually just say milk and egg!).
  • What's aquafaba egg replacer? If you pour the liquid off a can of garbanzo beans (or actually any type of bean), you have aquafaba. You can replace 1 egg with 3 T of the liquid. 
  • You can use any favorite cooking oil including olive oil (which I find to be too heavy, but it definitely works) and coconut oil (refined is preferred unless you like the coconut taste with your cornbread, but either works).
  • I combine a medium grind cornmeal with the corn flour. If you are using a fine grind cornmeal, then you can just use 1cup of it. I like the more robust texture approach. Either approach works.

Prompts for Mother’s Day Reflections or Journaling

  • What is the best thing my mother taught me?
  • How have I built on this and made it “mine”?
  • What is the worst thing my mother taught me?
  • How have I overcome this — changed this — so that I am a better person and not limited to her way?

If none of those prompts inspire you, try this one:

  • What is the favorite tradition I learned from Mother that I continue even now?

Enjoy reflections on your mother. Write for at least 5 minutes on one of these prompts. Or, if more your style, take a long walk and think about at least one way your life is different because of your mother. And if it is good or if it is bad, examine the way you have remade or crafted the influence until it is yours — not hers.

And always remember, you are a strong woman.

Last week, Kendra wrote about Mother’s Day and her mother’s great advice that has helped make her a Can Do woman today. Here’s the link to that article.

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Matilda ButlerMother’s Day Reflections and Recipe

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  • Tabatha - May 5, 2021 reply

    5 stars
    I’m always sad around Mother’s Day because I lost my mother in May. I like your idea of honoring her through passing on her traditions. And making one of her favorite recipes would be a great way to do this.

    Matilda Butler - May 5, 2021 reply

    Thanks for your comment. Kendra and I both have many of our mothers recipes and look forward to sharing them. So glad you are thinking of a recipe tradition to honor your mother. Mothers nourish us in so many ways.

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