Cousin Bill and Fried Mush


My father’s favorite cousin was Bill, ten years his senior and completely opposite from my diminutive, quiet, handsome, intelligent father.  Bill was bawdy, boisterous, tall and husky with a loud, hearty laugh – a loveable rascal.
We have a picture ca 1920 of Bill in a nice suit, neat and clean-shaven…


…but I remember him only in scruffy clothes with mud-caked brogans.  He was a blacksmith by trade and followed the county fair trotting circuit to shoe the horses.  Back in the 1960s, I took my three young children to the Owensville (Clermont County, Ohio) Fair and stopped in a trailer parked on the fairgrounds to visit Bill and his family.  Inside the small trailer, 4 or 5 little kids were seated at a table and Bill’s wife, Mary, was at the wood-burning stove frying mush in a big cast iron skillet.  She would slice the mush, throw it into the hot grease, flip it and then put it on one of the kids’ plates.  For the 15 or 20 minutes we were there, she never stopped flipping and serving slices of hot mush – there was always an empty plate and a hungry child yelling for more.  I’m also a lover of fried mush and so, in memory of Bill and his wife, here is how I make it.


  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Butter for frying

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Combine the remaining 1 cup of water with the corn meal and salt; slowly pour this mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened, stirring frequently.  Cover; continue cooking over low heat for 5 minutes.  Stir and pour into an oiled 9-inch loaf pan.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Invert mush loaf onto a flat surface….


…and cut into twelve ½-inch slices.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add about 2 teaspoons of butter.  Fry the mush slices on one side …

…then turn and brown on the other side.

Serve with butter and syrup, although I prefer it the way Mary fixed it – just fried golden brown without syrup.


Makes 6 servings of 2 slices each

Mush will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week.