She adds crushed red pepper to her cornbread, which gives it a piquant "bite" that perhaps reflects our love of hot, spicy food - an African tradition. Mary sends this message with her recipe:
"My mother, Mary Lee Whigham, taught me how to make Red Pepper Cornbread when I was ten years old. She was the mother of twelve children and a fine cook. When I make it today I think of her. My family loves this cornbread served with a good hearty Southern vegetable soup."
2. Oil a 9 x 2-inch square or round baking pan with vegetable oil or shortening, or you can use a cast-iron skillet, which renders a crisper crust. Set the pan into the oven to warm for at least 5 minutes.
3. In the meantime, sift into a medium bowl the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the vegetable oil or bacon drippings, mixing until well blended. Add the egg and buttermilk and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds.
4. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to level. Place the pan on the lower shelf in the hot oven and bake the cornbread for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread rest in the pan for a few minutes to settle; then cut into squares or wedges for serving.
Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appetit magazine and the website www.bonappetit.com, knows his way around a grill. He has edited an entire book on the subject: The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit.