Question: McFarlain's Family Restaurant makes the best corn bread! It stands tall, and has a slight sweet taste and a moist texture. In the week that we were in Branson, Mo., we visited McFarlain's three times to enjoy the corn bread. We would love to have this unusual recipe.
- Karen Hanby, Grand Haven, Mich.Answer: Branson, snuggled alongside Lake Taneycomo in southwest Missouri, just north of the Arkansas line, is a country-and-western music proving ground for aspiring groups as well as a haven for boot scootin' stars. Scenic beauty, outdoor recreation and clean family entertainment with homespun comedy and toe tappin' music bring millions of visitors to this tiny tourist mecca that has a year-round population in the neighborhood of 4,000. The fast-and-furious expansion of the 31/2-mile "Strip" along Highway 76 produced a boom that has catapulted Branson into the upper echelon of the entertainment industry, and the town now ranks with Orlando/Disney World as a "most popular" American highway tourist destination.
The McFarlains, an extensive family of kin and cousins, are legendary in the Ozarks, a region too often depicted as a haven for moonshiners, outlaws and hillbillies. The clan's thread of history weaves through the agony of the Civil War, an association with the notorious vigilante Baldknobbers, and celebrations of birth, baptism and marriage. In the spirit of the Ozarks, McFarlain's old-fashioned restaurant, bakery and pie shop in Branson dishes up family recipes. Their honey-sweetened corn bread is "Ozark cookin' like it's spose to be."
HONEY CORN BREAD
1 2/3 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons margarine (1 stick)
1 scant cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 2/3 cups milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-by-8-inch baking pan and set aside. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl and set aside. Place margarine and sugar in large bowl of mixer and cream until smooth. Add honey and eggs and beat to blend, scraping bottom and sides of bowl frequently. Beat in half of the milk. Beat in half of the flour mixture. Repeat with remaining milk and flour mixture. With mixer at lowest speed, continue to mix for 4 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in oven 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 12 servings.