Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sweet Corn Sex Education

  I am a city-boy trapped in my city-boy ignorance. Therefore, I seek out information from farmers whenever possible, just in case all of the farmers get annihilated by the big meteor (... and we all know that is coming soon, even though some preachers are lousy at predicting exactly when). 

  After the meteor disaster occurs, city residents will ask me the farming questions... such as... How does one grow strawberries? How does one breed cows? How does one make cheese? How does one raise bees? How does one raise chickens? How does one make bread from scratch? How does one grow corn? What are the (specific) ingredients in "The Recipe" from Walton's Mountain? 

  I respect farmers and gardeners. Do not be deceived by the farmer-folk mannerisms. They know if hens make noise when laying eggs. They know about plants. They can raise goats and Guineas, and farmer kids know about sex way before the city kids do.

The following is a guest post by my farmer-friend Beth. Her family has been farming "forever". The following is how one "does" corn. 

  The story begins with an evening phone call from my Mother. “You wanna do corn in the morning?” (Why it seems like just days earlier, my Father was standing in my kitchen complaining about the rising price of the sweet corn seed. Now we are here already?) I answer "Why yes, we can do that.".

  My Father plants about four rows (50 feet long each) of sweet corn in the family vegetable garden every year. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it does not, sometimes the deer and the 'coon eat it all. Last year my Father was ill, and it did not rain, and the deer were hungry. That was not a good year, but usually there is enough (enough to pick, shuck, cut, blanch and freeze) to keep everyone happy throughout the winter. 

  When the corn has matured (to a point to when one pierces the kernel some milk squirts out) it is ready. My family is picky. Why do all this work if it is not perfect? So when it is perfect, we “DO” corn. 

  It starts early in the morning as the sun is rising. Daddy’s job is to pick, and it must be done while the corn is cool and damp from a bit of dew. He fills the back of his pickup truck with anywhere from 45-to 100 ears of corn (as I said depending on the rain and critters).

  Next Mom will arrive. She will have all the necessary equipment with her including her red chair. Yep, she brings her own chair. This red chair is one of those typical kitchen chairs, red vinyl, with the steps that pull out from under the seat - anyway she cannot cut corn without it. She will also have her strawberry short cake pan  (an over sized deep sided cake pan), two or maybe three very sharp knives, her cigarettes, and her tumbler filled with ice and coke.

  I will be waiting to get that first cup of coffee, checking to see if the skillets are clean, and looking to see that I bought enough zip lock bags. 

  When I look out and see the pickup parked in the shade, the shucking begins. This shucking and cutting process is all accomplished outside. When cutting corn the way that we do it splatters all over everything, and that mess is not wanted on the kitchen cabinets. Daddy will have started shucking, and mother will be positioned on her chair waiting for the first ear. “Get those kids out of bed, and get them down here to help”.

  I hope you can picture this scene as well as I ever so fondly recall. Three teenagers half asleep shucking, Mother and I cutting, swatting flies. Then my father (who is a man of very few words) will begin to speak to his grandchildren about corn. Now what some of you may or may not know is that each baby kernel on the cob has a single strand of silk running to it. In order for the baby to grow, the silk strand must have one drop of pollen from the top tassel fall and “pollinate” the silk. Thus, a baby kernel will produce (that is if it rains and the critters are scarce). There you have it, and that is when my father smiles his proud smile having given his children sex education in its purest form. After the corn is all shucked, the kids announce they are going back to bed (it is after all summer vacation). My mother and I finish up the cutting. Here, I will revel to you what is considered to be one of the family secrets to cutting corn. You must scrape the cob after the corn is cut and capture every bit of the juice. This is very important. Now you do not have to bite the ends of each raw cob before you toss it back into the truck (like mom does - I don’t). She cannot stand to have that last little baby kernel she missed with her knife go to waste. She is crazy like that. 

Beth's Corn Pudding
  Into the kitchen, we go. The corn is put into a skillet just a couple of cups at a time with some of the juice/milk and cooked over a medium heat for just a few minutes (just until it turns color). It is then scooped into zip lock bags (about two cups in each one) with all the air is squeezed out (ALL), and then put into the freezer. Mother will tell me the story about her grandmother "Granny ". She used to put the bags between her legs and squeeze out all the air. These bags of corn will sit in the freezer quietly, until the weather changes (around Thanksgiving). I always bring corn pudding at Thanksgiving and often at any family function. 

  Cook a bag of corn, 2 cups whole milk, 3 to 4 eggs (depending on size) and ½ a stick of melted butter (cooked like a custard) on 325 for about 35-40 minutes-and until golden brown. There is something about the smell of corn pudding cooking in my kitchen. It usually means I got up early and started the day preparing food for a special gathering for those I dearly love. When my children walk into the kitchen and smell that smell, it’s a blending of life’s moments. It is Papa‘s wise words of the birds and the bees, grandma and her red chair and mom cooking in the kitchen. It is the aroma of the family; it is the smell of love.

Thanks for reading,

and thanks to Beth for writing,



Social Workin' said...

There seems to be a certain picture missing...

Gregory said...

I could not post it due to sickos.

Trentent Silver said...

Very informative blog..............
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