In the weeks before her death, Shirley and I had been talking about what recipes a Vegan Barbecue Book should contain. Our vision for her cookbook had been that it represent all the cuisines found today in Texas. It seems that people prefer a regressive view of Texas--that it's all cowboys wearing leather cowboy boots and shooting it up (does Rick Perry come to mind?). People come from all over the world and settle in Texas. The main street of my city (Richardson), has Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants. It has a Whole Foods, a Chinese grocery store and an Indian grocery store.
But, mainstream publishers with whom we talked over the past year, wanted us to focus on the traditional Texas fare. Shirley and I had lots of discussion about this, and finally decided that we'd begin with the Vegan Barbecue Book since we were about to be offered a book contract if we focused on this.
The week she died, Shirley and I discussed which of her recipes would go in this reconfigured book. Shirley had developed four different cornbread recipes. This one was one of her--and my--favorites. Even people who don't like cornbread love this recipe! (I know; I have pushed the envelope on this several times.) There's something about the roasted pecans and the moist shredded carrots that makes this delectable. It's comfort food, from the kitchen of the Shirley Wilkes-Johnson.
She wrote, "I created this recipe for Fiesta Culinary School inside the Fiesta Markets in Houston. Everyone loved this recipe. Cornbread has absolutely no need for eggs and milk, as this recipe will show. Delicious!"
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder that does not contain aluminum (such as Rumford)
1 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans *
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix soy milk and oil together and stir into cornmeal mixture. Gently stir in carrots and pecans. Pour into a cast iron 10” skillet (or muffin pan** or corn stick pan) that has been sprayed well with non stick spray. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
** Use a sprayed ice cream scooper to put batter into a sprayed muffin pan. Makes 12 muffins.
* Bake pecans in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes