I can't remember exactly when this happened. but at some point in time after I graduated from high school and left home, my mother gave me a small binder with some typewritten family recipes. These were recipes that had been handed down from her mother or grandmother, or were family favorites that she had picked up along the way.
I have made a number of them over the years, but one that I make on a regular basis is Pyle's Corn Meal Muffins. The "Pyle" referred to in the recipe name is a grandmotherly woman who was the favorite babysitter of me and my sisters when we were kids. Her name was Edith Pyle, and in the way of children, we shortened "Mrs. Pyle" to simply "Pyle." The two things I remember most about her were playing Hide the Kleenex (a variation of the game Hot and Cold) and her letting us comb out her long hair.
She was a really sweet lady.
The recipe as written calls for 2 tablespoons of shortening (bacon fat). Back in the day (the 1960s), my mother would collect bacon grease in an old marmalade jar on the stove. She would then use this to fry eggs or pancakes.
For a number of years, I would substitute margarine or butter in this recipe, but the muffins always turned out too crumbly. Then (I can't remember exactly when) I decided to try actual bacon grease.
OMG, it made all the difference! Now, I don't/won't use anything else.
In the interest of full disclosure: I am an unabashed, unapologetic carnivore. I like meat, and I like bacon. The only exception was when I was pregnant, but that is another story for another time.
Anyway, when my husband and I fry up bacon, we often save the grease in a jar for storage on the refrigerator and for me to use in when I make corn muffins. I try to have 1 or 2 glass containers stored away.
To my mind, there are few foodstuffs as toothsome as a corn muffin fresh out of the oven. With butter. And honey. . . .
So without further ado, I present: PYLE'S CORN MEAL MUFFINS
Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1cup corn meal and 4 tablespoons bacon fat. Let stand 1 hour.
Sift and add: 1 cup flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt
Add 2 beaten eggs and 1 cup buttermill.
Pour batter into greased muffin tins (12 total).
Bake 25 minutes at 425 degrees.