Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spoonbread Casserole, a Birthday Tradition and an Old Virginia Inn

When I was in middle school my Father took a job that moved us to the Washington DC. northern Virginia area. Reston/Mclean/Vienna to be exact. This was the heart of the sububan belt of towns which over time has become one of the wealthiest enclaves in the United States. It rivals any area in bucolic beauty and certainly held many historical and natural points of interest as well. Nestled on the banks of the Potomac river many of the towns in NOVA as it is called had water front land tracts or urban river front developments which gave the area a diverse feel and mix of rural farmland gone suburban as well as old river town gone ritzy!

Mclean virginia was a cross roads that grew into a town. Near it was a place called 7 Corners. It was literally a place where 7 small country bumpkin roads had come together to form what became a major intersection. Before the development there had been farmland there. And it was not uncommon in the eighties to see a major housing development sitting right next to a horse farm or large country estate.

So it was not surprising that in the middle of all the building and development, strip malls and parking lots, there was a historical farm site and Inn, Evans Farm Inn. The origins of which dated back to the revolutionary war period. It was a large several acre farm which had on it a "working" historical farm and Inn, which over time became a theme restaurant and tourist dinning destination or sorts. It was also a favorite of locals who wanted to have an authentic historical experience and dinning opportunity.

The menu at the Evans Farm Inn included colonial versions of such foods as Lamb, Shepherds Pie, Roast Duckling with orange sauce and the revelation which I first had there....Spoonbread! In fact the Spoonbread was famous. All the foods were served family style at Evans Farm Inn, which also gave it a certain Cache. Girl servers called relish girls, dressed in period clothing, would move from table to table serving a variety of side dishes to the diners. One of these side  dishes was the famous Spoonbread. It was served out of a large ceramic baking pot which was carried by the girls and spooned out onto your plate. When I first had this I was smitten. I have in the past spoken if my silent love of cream corn. Yes the corn born of a can and swimming in a sea of creamy goodness. Well this was like a bready version of that canned delight. So thus began my love affair with Spoonbread, which I went on the eat wherever there was colonial dinner offerings. Of course these offerings were few and far between given that colonial dinning is sort of limited to places like Williamsburg. And lets face it, how often does one get to go there.

Thus it was years later at a friend's home that I came in contact with something which while it was not exact, was an amazing replication of the taste and texture of the bread of spoon I had enjoyed so many years before. Let me explain.

My dear friends John and Mike have a lovely home in a little town 45 mins outside of New York in Pompton Plains New Jersey. It is a family home that they inherited and have made into a really lovely nest for themselves and the fortunate few who are invited to share it on occasion. It so happens that Mike's birthday happens to be on Thanksgiving Day. So as you can imagine his birthday gets a little overshadowed by the national feast day of days. As a remedy to this John and Mike started a tradition which is one of my favorite invites of the year. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving they host something called "Thanksgiving After Thanksgiving". It is in short a recreation of the T-day meal all over again, and they go all out! However, it's not just the meal, it's also the setting.

Picture this, a 1905 Sears Roebuck Victorian, which for those of you who don't know was the first pre fab home made in the US. and shipped and assembled on site where you wanted it. It is a big old Victorian House which when you pass through the front door makes you feel like you've entered a home which has been trapped in a time warp. Or at least that people have been living there since 1930. Why, because when they moved in they happened to inherit the furniture from I think 3 different relatives at the same time. So there are pieces which have been in the families since forever and together they create a wonderful collage of family history and comfort. Also they have recreated the wallpaper and paint from the 1930's or before and have decorated with lots of family heirlooms.  It is a warm home and a welcoming one.

So that is the setting for the dinner, but the dining table is the other piece of this. Up to 26 people I think have attending this meal. And they accommodate everyone at one long table. Covered in white lace table clothes and sparkling with glassware from the turn of the last century, this is a table to behold.
And while all of this may be impressive lets just remember the most important piece, and that is the wonderful cast of family and friends who gather to celebrate together and the time they get to spend together in this lovely environment.

So what has all of this to do with Spoonbread you may ask. WELL...

The first year I attended this there were all the usual suspects on the menu. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, old school green bean casserole even crescent rolls. But there was something I was unfamiliar with. Corn Casserole. It was yellow and baked and when I put it in my mouth I was transferred back in time to that first meal at Evans Farm Inn. It was Spoonbread and it was good. I immediately asked how it was made. And Mike told me it was the simplest thing ever, and the secret was nothing more than...Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. Little did I know that it is a national favorite recipe and is used everywhere. Where was my Mom and Grandma when this information was being given out I wondered!! In any event it is GOOD! And the easiest way I have found to replicate that Spoonbread feeling! So enjoy Ya'll.

So I give you my take on this classic home recipe. Everyone has their version and this is mine to get to that Spoonbread nirvana!

Evan's Farm Inn style Spoonbread Recipe made in a Jiffy! 
(Sorry! I couldn't resist) serves 8 to 10 as a side dish

This really could not be easier you will need:

22 oz of frozen corn thawed and cooked for 5 mins in the microwave then cooled
2 cans Cream Style Corn
2 sticks of butter melted
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cartons of 8 oz sour cream
2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Mix
1 cup grated Cheddar Cheese (optional)
4 eggs scrambled up


Grease a baking dish with butter or cooking spray
Mix everything together until you have a smooth batter.

Bake at 400 for 45 mins
As it cools it will deflate a bit.
Let cool 15 mins before serving.


  1. I just googled Evans Farm Inn and found this post. I grew up in McLean and actually worked there briefly. It was so sad when they bulldozed it away.

    I grew up eating something very similar to what your friends served but we always called it Corn Pudding. If you want to make the REAL Evans Farm Inn Spoonbread, here you go:

    1. Thanks for the comment, I loved Evan's Farm as a kid so any interesting info you want to share would be welcome. Please let me know if you check out any of my other posts. Will definitely check out the link.