lurlene sue’s honey corn cakes

Ain’t Leo hates it when I come up here to Headquarters without her supervision. She feels this place does not foster my sense of independence and invincibility. I tell her that everyone here treats me as a respected tribal elder. She says they treat me like an invalid and that I eat it up. How can she say that? You decide. Here’s how it went this trip.

I pulled into the lot before sunrise. The fire was already stoked and the smell of burning oak and Walter’s cowboy coffee hung heavy in the cold, damp air. Thick tendrils of fog rose from the water feature /aka/ stock tank just begging me to slide the canoe out into the mirror still water. Man, I love this place. The pained-cat screech of the screen door announced the impending arrival of the lovely Lurlene Sue.

“Yoo hoo, Yak! Walter’s out in the reading room and will be out in a little while. Now get over here and give Lurlene Sue a big ol’ hug!”

How could I pass that up on a cold morning like this? Forty two degrees and a hug from a big girl is God’s way of saying all is right with the world. If she was about a foot and a half taller I would have felt warm from head to toe.

Suddenly we were lit up in the harsh beam of a billion candlepower searchlight. Blue and red strobes accompanied the “whoop, whoop” of a siren and the metallic voice of a PA system saying, “Alright, kids, break it up ‘fore I tell Walter!” Trooper Shiny had arrived for breakfast.

Lurlene Sue grabbed my elbow in her stubby fingers and guided me over to my personalized Adirondack chair.

“Now set yore self down here and prop yore boots up on the fire ring.” As if by magic, she produced my favorite Hudson Bay blanket and wrapped it around my shoulders. “We’ll be havin’ breakfast as soon as Walter washes up and gets here.”

Trooper Shiny doffed his Stetson and gave Lurlene Sue a quick hug and a peck on the cheek. “Good mornin’, Miss Lurlene Sue. How y’all doin’ this fine mornin’?” Looking my way, he nodded and said, “How ’bout you, Yak? You’re looking fit and healthy this mornin’.”

“Shiny, is that a full grown mustache I see on that lip of yours? Where’d you get that? Must be left over from Halloween.”

“Now, Yak, don’t be makin’  me feel like a boy again. I’ve done got one tour of the ‘Stan under my belt now and I’m a gen-you-wine veteran just like you and Walter. I think it was that high desert dust and gunsmoke that fertilized it. Looks good, huh?”

About then Walter walked up behind me and smacked me on the head with his hat.

“Leave that man alone, Yak. He’s paid his dues and can root up to the table like the rest of us hogs.”

“I’m glad to have you home in one piece, boy,” I said. “And you are a full-fledged member of the World Problem Solution Society and Coffee Klatch. You’ve made your personal attempt to solve a WORLD problem. And I think all of that testosterone unleashed probably helped with the fertilizing, too.”

“Walter,” I said, “pour this man the first cup.”

We nursed our scalding coffee and stared at the fire in silence. I would cast the occasional glance at Trooper Shiny and take in the changes. His uniform fit better and his duty belt hung with more authority. His back was a little straighter. His gaze into the flames was more introspective. Walter and I would have to keep an eye on him. Entry into the combat veterans club comes with a price that is often not paid until much later. Sometimes demons take a long time to claw their way to the surface.

He saw me watching him and said, “What?”

I raised my coffee mug in salute to him and said, “Molon labe.”

Walter raised his and repeated, “Molon labe.”

Shiny, sitting with his elbows on his knees looked down at the ground and said, “Thanks, guys.”

Sounding like a mortally wounded wildcat, the screen door announced that breakfast would soon begin.

Lurlene Sue balanced a huge tray of all her fixings with all the skill of a waiter at the old San Jacinto Inn. She grabbed a trowel and raked coals into a little trench made of chop stone. She held her hand over the coals and counted to six, added a few more coals and repeated her count. When she was satisfied, she put the big iron skillet on the stones and let it start gathering heat.

Dust was flying as she flung flour, cornmeal and other good stuff into her mixing bowl. All the while singing an Iris Dement gospel song. Come cooking time, the lady is poetry in motion.

We were all salivating like hound dogs by the time she started flipping corn cakes.

Lurlene Sue served me first, thus cementing my position as elder statesman. I couldn’t help but grin when Walter’s jaw dropped. I could tell that he was not used to sharing Lurlene Sue’s affection. And he missed being Alpha Dog when I was gone. Such is the burden of fame and leadership. It’s a heavy burden, but I bear it to the best of my ability.

For those of you who are interested, I’ve translated Lurlene Sue’s recipe for enough batter to feed two people.

lurlene sue’s honey corn cakes

  • 1 double handful scoop of corn meal (1 cup)
  • 1 single hand scoop of flour (1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, whupped to a froth
  • 1 cup of milk (cow or goat)
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  •  1 big squeeze of honey (2 tablespoon)

Mix dry stuff, then stir in the other stuff. Pour into a hot, greased skillet. When you start getting bubbles on the surface, flip and fry the other side.

These goodies can be served with butter as bread for a meal or they can be dusted with powdered sugar and honey for a good dessert.

We sat licking honey off our fingers and extolling the virtues of Miss Lurlene Sue’s cooking.

She told me that she was planning to write a cookbook on the dying art of East Texas Pineywoods cooking and asked if I would help her. She had been to a bookstore in Livingston and had seen a cookbook on diet cooking and liked the name and thought she would call hers Lurlene Sue’s South Bitch Diet. Walter thought that might be too naughty for some people, but she is adamant about the name and feels that the folks offended by the title don’t need to know her secrets. I tend to agree with her and I think I’ll help her with the project.  We will share a few of her recipes here along the way.

Now it’s time to relax and put a fresh pot of coffee on the coals.


I tried this at home and here are a few pics of my efforts. It wasn’t quite as good as Lurlene Sue’s because I didn’t have any honey, so I substituted sorghum molasses.


Coals ready for the skillet   Coals ready for cooking.










Skillet soaking up heat.









Golden brown sorghum molasses corn cake.



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