Very good question(s) Clair...Questions that cannot be answered in a few short sentences as the answers span hundred of years of history as well as regional experiences. Heck, a whole book could be devoted to just...”Biscuits” Here are some Tid-Bits I picked up from several historical resources...
Native American Indians had been growing, and eating corn in various forms for centuries when the Europeans fist came ashore early in the 1600’s. ~ Job one for these settlers was procuring/growing, preparing, and preserving various foods. Their very lives depended on it,... and the staple crop absolutely essential to survival was...Corn.
Although they raised vegetable gardens in season, hunted plentiful game, and fished abundant waters, in times of need these and other products were traded in order to obtain...Corn. It was used to make everything from...Bread to whiskey. Corn has been a staple grain/food product in the American diet from our earliest history.
The Europeans brought flours (wheat, barley and rye) and the knowledge and expertise to grow, harvest, and mill the grains into flour to produce various breads ~ As early as 1610 there were water powered grist mills in Maine and Nova Scotia ~ In 1612 there were wind powered mills in Jamestown Virginia...Soon every town, settlement, or large farm, North or South had grist mills to produce flours and cornmeal ~ White breads were not the only breads baked by the European Colonist....One favorite, especially in the North was brown bread commonly referred to as a rye or Indian bread.... Corn Pone and Johnny Cakes made from corn were very popular items fit for Colonial tables.
Here’s a recipe you may find interesting and fun to try
George Washington’s Favorite Corn Cakes
2 Cups of Stone Ground Cornmeal
1/1/2 Cups Warm Water
½ teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon yeast
Oil or lard to grease the griddle
Honey & Butter
Mix 1 Cup of the Cornmeal, and the yeast into 1 ½ Cups of luke warm water. Stir well, cover tightly and leave it out on the counter overnight. The next morning stir in the salt, egg, and remaining Cornmeal. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes. More water can be added to thin the batter if needed.... Heat fat on a medium hot griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with honey and butter....
According to Nelly Custis, the youngest grand-daughter of former First Lady Martha Washington, the first President’s morning routine included, rising before sun up...reading and writing until about 7:00 AM or so, then eating three or four of these Corn Cakes “swimming in butter and honey”.. I’m sure most folks would consider Mount Vernon a “proper” household.
Sometimes I think foods that are thought of as “Southern” are more Rural American’ in scope than anything else.........