Boiled and buttered, year after year: Fresh local corn is integral to the golden days of summer

By TINKY WEISBLAT

For the Recorder

Published: 08-01-2023 12:01 PM

Area farmers are having a tough time. As many readers may know, Governor Healy recently announced the establishment of the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund.

That and other helpful resources have been identified by CISA, the local hero folks. To find ideas for donations, visit https://www.buylocalfood.org/get-involved/july-2023-flooding-support-local-farms/.

Despite their travails, many farmers still have food to sell, and I am happy to buy it. I’m not much of a gardener so I frequent farm stands and farmers markets.

Tomatoes are running a little late and a little low this year, but we still have sweet corn at area farm stands.

This time of year and that signature crop always remind me of my youth.

The Augusts of my childhood here in Hawley were golden, both literally and figuratively.

The landscape was filled with the bright yellow of sunflowers and the duller yellow of hay. The sun seemed to shine every day as we swam and swam and swam. And corn was consumed every single evening – just before all the neighborhood children played a spirited game of Kick the Can.

I loved corn then. I still do. The act of eating it takes a certain amount of deliberation. With its lovely long rows of kernels, this tasty comestible stretches on like a perfect summer day or evening.

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The freshest corn (and of course we ate and eat only the freshest) is sweet and not starchy, purchased the day of its picking at the farm on which it grew.

Most of the time I still serve corn as I my mother did when I was young. I quickly boil or grill it and add butter, salt and pepper.

I’m a lot less lavish with the butter than I was as a child, of course; in fact, sometimes I omit it altogether.

Once in a while, however, I feel the urge to go beyond plain corn, particularly with leftover kernels. I always have leftover kernels since I find it difficult to purchase only one or two ears, even when I am alone. Fresh, sweet corn is too darn tempting.

My mother’s favorite use for leftover corn was in succotash. She loved to combine it with cranberry beans (those whitish beans with pink stripes that appear in farm stands and stores only in mid to late September).

Below I share one of my own current favorite ways to use leftover corn kernels. This corn pudding recipe comes from Anita Holloway of Northfield. Anita is the eternally young mother of my friend Pam Gerry. Both are superb cooks.

Anita’s recipe is distinctly not for the faint of heart. It abounds with calories and fat, managing to employ both butter and cream. (I know this combination may make you cringe, but just taste the pudding.)

Nevertheless, I still make it from time to time because I can’t resist and because it’s a crowd pleaser. People always seem to want seconds of this dish.

However I eat corn, the texture and flavor of this summer fruit-eaten-as-a-vegetable always take me back to those August days and nights of my childhood when time stood still, children played and laughed, and the landscape glimmered with yellow.

Anita’s Virginia Corn Pudding

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter

enough ears of fresh raw corn to make 6 cups of kernels (6 to 7 large ears or 12 to 13 small ears; if you have only leftover corn, you may use cooked corn as well)

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 pinch nutmeg (I substitute 1 pinch Creole seasoning)

6 eggs

2 cups heavy cream

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and set it aside.

Cut the kernels from the cobs. Scrape the cobs to get all of the milk and remaining pulp.

In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and spice.

Whisk together the eggs, cream, and melted butter in a large bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Stir in the corn. Pour the mixture into a three-quart casserole dish.

Bake until the pudding is almost set, about 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours. Let the pudding rest for a few minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Tinky Weisblat is an award-winning author and singer. Her most recent book is “Pot Luck: Random Acts of Cooking.” Visit her website, TinkyCooks.com.

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