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"The Frugal Gourmet" Jeff Smith's Cornbread

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson


Frugal Celebrities' Recipes

Jeff Smith was a highly acclaimed 1980s TV celebrity and chef known as "The Frugal Gourmet" and the shortened nickname "The Frug." He was the owner of Chaplain's Pantry in Tacoma, Washington in the 1970s, and was an ordained Protestant minister. Smith's national television career took off when he appeared on the Phil Donahue Show; his popular TV show on PBS was the most watched cooking show in the US at the time. He was the author of a dozen successful cookbooks, including The Frugal Gourmet, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece, and Rome, The Frugal Gourmet's Culinary Handbook, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, and The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American. Smith would close each of his cooking shows by saying, "Until I see you again, this is The Frugal Gourmet. I bid you peace. Bye-bye."

Scandal hit Smith in 1997 — he was never found guilty of the sexual abuse charges since the lawsuits were settled, but the charges ruined his reputation nonetheless. Summary from Wikipedia:

In 1997, seven men filed suit against Smith alleging that he sexually abused them when they were teens. Six of the plaintiffs alleged that the abuse occurred in the 1970s while they were working for Smith at the Chaplain's Pantry, a deli and catering service in Tacoma, Washington. The seventh plaintiff alleged that he was sexually assaulted in 1992 at age 14 while hitchhiking. Smith denied the accusations, and the suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 1998.

Smith had been a generous philanthropist, donating both his time and money to a number of charitable causes and helping others get started in the food industry, even after his retirement. He died at age 65 in Seattle, Washington of heart disease in 2004.

Cornbread is a delicious, easy, and inexpensive staple in many American homes, and this recipe of Smith's is from his awesome 1987 cookbook The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.

About it, he wrote, "This is another use of cornmeal that is terribly versatile. One New England lady told me that she dos not remember a dinner in her childhood without corn bread. And for breakfast it was served broken up in a bowl, with milk and sugar or maple syrup. I love it just baked and on the table for dinner."


"The Frugal Gourmet" Jeff Smith's Cornbread

Place all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix up with an electric mixer. Add the liquids and mix until smooth.

Place in a greased 8- x 12-inch pan, and bake in a preheated, hot oven (400 deg F) for about 30 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the bread, making sure it comes out clean.

This same recipe can be used for cornmeal muffins or for corn sticks, baked in a heavy black iron mold.

Serves 6.


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Smith, Jeff. The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, William Morrow and Company, Inc., NY, 1987.
Wikipedia website, Smith, Jeff (