Joni Woolf: Corn is here again … on the cob, fresh
Published 4:05 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2019
On Memorial Day, I drove through Andersonville National Cemetery, observing thousands of flags placed on graves by volunteers, and reminding myself, once again, of the high cost of freedom. It is a moving sight, and even more so to see so many people there, paying tribute. I decided upon leaving Andersonville to drive over the Oglethorpe: I had seen on Facebook that Chase Corn would be available on Memorial Day. It was! I came home with two dozen ears, plus two (they still give you a Baker’s Dozen). I gave six ears to my daughter, then scraped the remaining 20 to store in the freezer until someone comes for a summer meal. Then, I went searching for recipes to use, though I most often stir a little butter (or bacon grease) and salt into the scraped corn, put it in a Dutch oven, and cook it in the oven at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes.
But many of us love to try new recipes, so I went searching, and found several that I think I’ll try this season. I hope you will, too. It’s hard to find anything better than fresh corn — on the cob or off.
Southern Corn Pudding
3 cups (about 12 ears) uncooked corn, cut from cob
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons grated onion (now is good time to use those Vidalias)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar (or less, to taste)
1 1/8 cups scalded milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine in order listed and pour into a greased 1 ½-quart baking dish. Bake 60 minutes, or until firm. Serve immediately.
With temperatures outside nearing 100 degrees, a salad might be preferred. AND, you would not need to turn on the oven. Try this one for a cool lunch or supper.
1 ½ cups corn (approximately 6 ears of corn)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemon juice)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup fresh diced tomato
½ cup finely chopped cucumber
¼ cup finely chopped Vidalia or red onion
2 tablespoons fresh basil
Cook corn on cob in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water. Cut kernels from cobs. Place kernels in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside. Add remaining ingredients to the large bowl with the corn, toss together. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Let stand for a few minutes before serving, allowing the flavors to mingle. Or, refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve. This salad is not only good to eat, it is delightful in appearance — and a cool delight on a warm day.
Rick Bragg, in his book about his mother’s cooking, “The Best Cook in the World,” offers her recipe for cooking sweet corn. This method is the one used by Southern cooks for generations, with slight variations, from farm to farm, and from home to home. It is told in the vernacular. So, listen up.
What you will need:
3 to 3 ½ cups fresh sweet corn
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
¾ stick butter (at least) (Note: Some of us use bacon grease here)
How to cook it:
Shuck and remove the silks from your corn. How many ears you will need will depend on the size; just try to end up with at least 3 cups. You will want leftovers of this; it is even good cold (according to Bragg). In a cast iron skillet, combine your corn, salt, and sugar with about ½ cup water, and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then add the butter and cook over low heat till the water has cooked out and the corn is stewing in the butter and its own sugars. Time is relative. We like it a little crisp (he says) and some people only cook it for about 20 minutes in all, for an even crisper taste. To be honest, (his mother says) “it’s hard to mess up sweet corn.” She did not say, according to Bragg, “Even you could do it.” But he thinks she meant to.
The calendar and the temperature outside tell us that summer is here. Happy Patch and other markets will be carrying sweet corn (Happy Patch features corn from Chase Farms, popular in this area). So, buy it now. The season, like all good things, is brief — so brief. Get it while you can.
Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org