Corny Stuff


Fresh sweet corn is one of the joys of summer.

By FamilyTime

 

Everyone knows that corn and tomatoes are two of summer's culinary treasures--at least if you live in a temperate climate where neither is the least bit tempting other times of year.

Right now, in much of the nation, sweet corn reigns supreme. Tomatoes are coming into their own, but corn is here in all its golden glory.

Stop by any farm stand, farmer's market, or greengrocer. Chances are you will see signs advertising local corn: "just picked!" "fresh from the farm!"

If you're lucky, your local supermarket will carry overflowing baskets of local corn bought from nearby farmers.

Without question, corn is at its very best when it's picked and eaten on the same day. The frozen and canned products available other times of year are very good -- but they're not really in the same league.

New strains of sweet corn stand up to shipping very well, which means you can get delicious tasting corn from other parts of the country. Buy this when you can't find local corn, but when homegrown is available--go for it!

Cooking Corn
Corn lovers debate the best methods for cooking corn. It can be boiled, roasted, grilled, or, if very fresh, eaten raw.

Some swear that it should only get a brief, gentle boil. Purists suggest that, if you have rows of corn growing in your garden, you should not pick the ears until you put the water on to boil.

Others like to keep corn in the husks and grill or roast it. The best way to do this is to pull the husks back from the ears without detaching them so that you can remove and discard the silk. Wrap the leaves back up around the corn and then lay it on the grill or put it in the oven.

Eating corn on the cob is a summertime ritual. Most folks slather it with sweet butter and salt. Others forgo both and prefer a sprinkling of pepper.

Salads, Relishes, and Other Corny Stuff
Corn salad is a summertime delight. Slice cold, cooked corn off the cobs and toss it with tomatoes, beans, potatoes, bell peppers, or summer squash.

To jazz up salads, add some fresh herbs - cilantro, tarragon, and basil come to mind - and perhaps scallions or red onion rings. For a dressing, try slightly sweet vinaigrette. A very old-fashioned salad is one made with corn, tomatoes, onions, and a sprinkling of sugar.

Corn relishes are meant to sit for a few hours before eating - and usually last in the refrigerator for several days.

Typically, relishes are combinations of corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, pickles, and beans. They're flavored with chiles, celery seeds, mustard seeds, dill weed, or a similar bold-tasting seasoning. Their job is to perk up cold chicken, grilled meats, and summer sandwiches.

There are corn puddings, corn cakes, and corn chowders. But we'll discuss them another day.