Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Corn Bread Pie

I mentioned in an earlier post that Ole Sweetie-Pi is a train brain. He must have at least a 1,000 model trains (no exaggeration), his favorite lines being Lehigh Valley and Penn Central, though he collects them all from what I can see.

We are owed by five cats. Back in the day of dining and sleeper cars, the Chesapeake and Ohio had a logo and a series of advertisements, called Chessie, the Cat ("Sleep Like a Kitten"). The sweet, sleeping kitten, tucked in a fluffy blanket, captured the hearts of travelers and non-travelers alike, and you can see the silhouette of the sleeping kitten in the "C" in their logo. The Chesapeake and Ohio later became the Baltimore and Ohio. Anyway, because of the kitty connection, I am Chessie Systems and B&O collector.

Ole Sweetie-Pi, who is extremely happy at sharing his railroad rabidness with me, surprised me with a yellowed B&O pamphlet of recipes that were served in their dining cars. I think by today's standards the recipes are plain; however, considering the constraints of railway cooking, the food was interesting, regional, and satisfying. This corn bread pie caught my eye as it is a dish many of us still enjoy today. It could easily be "modernized" to reflect today's tastes of spicier food, maybe some added cheese in the cornbread would be tasty. I think I saw a similar recipe where someone added canned green beans; that sounds good too. I did use the full tablespoon of chili powder (big surprise as we are not spicy), and it was good, but for us, on the verge of being too hot.

This was a fun meal, one that we would likely enjoy again. I'm thinking that one of those little boxes of cornmeal muffin mix (they're like 3 or 4 for a $1.00 the last time I looked) might be good here as well if you didn't want to invest in a whole package of cornmeal that you might not use straight away.

There are so few railroad dining car recipes on the web, I thought I'd pass this one along as presented.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's Corn Bread Pie

1 pound of ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 can tomato soup
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup green peppers
1 can whole kernel corn, drained

Have ready a greased casserole dish, set aside.

In a good sized saute pan or fry pan, brown the beef and onion together. Drain off fat. Add the tomato soup, water, and seasonings. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, with an occasional stir so it doesn't scorch. Pour into prepared casserole dish, allowing ample room for the corn bread batter, remembering that the corn bread is going to rise.

In the meantime, prepare the corn bread.

3/4 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon of melted fat

In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour batter over the meat mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F, or until the corn bread is golden brown.


  1. This looks so good. I love cornbread with anything. I used to ride the train each summer to visit my grandmother. The dining car was so fancy to me.

  2. I have yet tried this corn looks very good and perfect for the lunch with some warm sweet corn soup.

  3. This is a fun meal! Sounds great too. You should try it with the jiffy mix next time.

  4. ooh wow this looks great and I love the story you told! We dont have Jiffy here so I always have to make my own cornbread and keep plenty on hand. Im bookmarking this for sure!!

  5. I love that you find authentic recipes...and what a specific little niche that cool. you make suggestions to modernize, or not. Grin. Seems those straightforward and simple recipes are 'coming back' everyone want to keep life simple, affordable and 'solid'. Love the recipe. Seems like a perfect combination to be topped off with cornbread! Yum....

  6. This looks really good! And I love the whole story behind it. You have five kitties? I'd love to see their pictures!

  7. I just leaned over to show my hubbie your picture and said "Mmm, doesn't that look good for dinner tomorrow night?!" lol
    I think it sounds delicious!

  8. This is a lovely family meal. It looks wonderful.

  9. a great recipe...I can smell it from here.

    BTW, being a train buff, have you ever heard of the Harvey Girls? We are kind of proud of that organization around Kansas City. Arguably dining out today would not be the same without them. Very interesting group for foodies to look into, and train buffs.

  10. Reeni, yep, five kitties! I'll see if I can gather them up in a heap one of these days and take their picture for you. Two of my females don't get along, lots of hissing, so we have upstairs and downstairs cats, sigh. The things we do for cats!

    AYOTG, coincidentally, Ole Sweetie-Pi and I were having a conversation several nights ago about the Harvey Girls. I have a newly printed railroad cookbook , with recipes old and new, and the Harvey Girls were mentioned. Nice, nice ladies. Love all the railroad lore.

  11. It's good to have something really spicy once in a while, right? ;-) It looks delicious! BTW, can you post pictures of your kitties? Would love to see them!

  12. OH, this sounds delish! I love the goodness hidden under the nummy cornbread :)

  13. I think that this looks totally delicious! How sweet that your sweetie pi tried to merge your love of cooking with his love of all things railroad by bring you recipes. Awww.

  14. I love cornbread... what a great way to use it :)

  15. Thanks for sharing stories regarind the railroads! So interesting. This looks like a really good and simple hearty meal. I would love trying this on a cold day!

  16. This is a yummy sounding dish, Katy...a real comfort food for cooler weather!
    Is that a Fire King plate I see?

  17. You are reading my mine. Last night, I made chili for dinner. I had a left over so I made a corn bread crust for it but mine looks dry while yours does not. I won't get it on until after work but would you take a peek at Sweet and Savory, tomorrow or maybe even tonight, and see if you can tell what I did wrong with the corn bread topping. Before I try another one, I want to know what I am doing. I have another container of chile to do something with. Thanks a million.

  18. oh i love this! it looks so warm and comforting! i love hearing about the train hobby, it's so fun!

  19. What a great post Katy!! This dish looks delicious and it was fun to learn more about it. I can see a one inch layer of very small pasta on the bottom of the pan (not mixed it) then the filling would sit on top of it...maybe mini-shells or mini-elbows.

  20. Another great fall recipe! My family would really like this one!

  21. I'm LOLing @ your Magic Bullet comment! I remember when you bought that thing!! Do you still use it or is it one of those novelty gadgets that winds up just taking up space? Get thee an ice cream maker!!!!! ;o)

    I just saw a recipe similiar to this in a Halloween mag, only it was decorated w/ stuff to look like a jack-o lantern. I think I want to make it for the grands' Halloween party. That recipe looked a little dry though...I like your's better & will use it. PERFECT timing on the posting!

  22. Now that's what I call comfort food! Thanks for sharing!!! :o)

  23. Hi Katy!! This definitely looks like comfort food to me!!
    I have been terrible at getting back to people lately, but at least I manage to post!!
    And I have been right there following!!
    Glad you like the honey cake recipe. Wait till you see what I have in mind for tomorrow's post.
    Today I am baking!! Peace...Linda

  24. I always wondered what B and O stood for. Okay so trains are not one of my strong suits.

    THis is a real nice dinner fore the Fall with some fresh corn.

  25. This corn bread pie sounds delicious. I have frozen a bunch of homemade tomato soup from tomatoes in our garden; this would be a fun way to use some of it. Thanks, Katy. You always have the best recipes :)

  26. How fun to get your hands on those recipes! I love finding old recipes and books!!

    Nice dish!

  27. What a most perfect fall recipe!! Looks delicious!

  28. Katy, I love this because it is so different to me. I love new ideas and trying new things - I'm going to remember this!

  29. This looks delicious..I love cornbread! A perfect meal for autumn:)

  30. This does look fun and delicious. this is comfort food for me.

  31. Looks truly delicious! Would be so fun to eat it on a railway car :)

  32. Katy - It's been too long since I've visited your site, I'm so glad I spent this morning catching up! You have some lovely homey recipes on here - perfect for fall comfort! Hopefully as my life starts to settle back into routine, coming here will be part of my weekend routine again :o)

  33. I love this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing. I'll be making it soon & love the idea of adding corn. I do that sometimes with leftover chili. :)

  34. What a fun sweet post. It is impossible to do rail travel in the midwest - they pick you up at 11 p.m. and drop you off at 3 a.m. I miss the east coast! Bu eh recipe can bring it all back. Homey and comforting.

  35. How did I miss this? I love putting the corn bread with the other goodies to pack it into one tidy tempting dish.

    I am wondering if I have time and the ingredients to make this before hubby comes home.

    I will let you know if I pull it off.

  36. Dear Pal, thank you for dinner, tonight. I can't believe I got it done in time, well almost in time. Hubby called and said he would be a half hour late - I would pull it off.

    The phone rang and it was an old friend from several years back, not one I could putter around the kitchen while talking to. We spoke for about a half an hour. That was my cooking half hour.

    I raced into the kitchen and started browning frozen meat - ugh. What could I do? Hubby came in just as I put the whole sheband into the oven. So, he checked the mail, accomplished some odd jobs and we sat down and had a delicious dinner.

    I forgot to make a salad or side dish, I was so excited to get my corn bread pie done. It had so much to it, it did not matter. There is nothing left and I only had one serving. Guess who had four or is that five?

    Needless to say, it was a success. It was yummy and I owe you, big time. Thanks.


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