Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Simple Joys of Corn on the Cob

I LOVE corn on the cob. In fact – I adore it so much, that I have a plate I use specifically for eating corn on the cob. By mid-July when the local sweet corn starts showing up at the market I will set aside two or three meals a week where corn smothered in butter and salt is the main focus of my evening meal.

My special Corn Plate and napkin - just
awaiting a good dinner.
As you can see, my plate is simple but shaped oblong.  I discovered years ago that putting long ears of corn on a regular plate doesn't allow you the opportunity to roll the ears around in the butter that melts off the corn.  This plate gives me plenty of room to do that, plus hold any accompanying items I choose to add to the plate.  It's nothing more than an old Corning microwave platter. I never used it in the microwave to my recollection but it's gotten well used during summers when corn is plentiful. 

Also note that the best sort of napkin to use for this meal is a damp wash cloth.  I roll mine up and set it next to my plate and believe me it gets a work out.  Nothing feels better than a good cool rag to wipe your buttery hands and face with as you eat.  Toss it in the laundry when dinner is over.  And NO, those fancy corn holders are not permitted.  I have a bunch of them but it's WAY more fun eating corn without them.  The butter dripping down your arms is a mandatory part of the experience.

These are meals that celebrate the simple pleasures of eating out of the garden. Accompaniments that are permitted to share my special plate are few and simply dressed – fresh, ripe tomatoes with salt and pepper – cucumbers dressed in a little sour cream and vinegar – steamed green beans – and for some really odd, unknown reason, the occasional hot dog.

Yes, corn and hot dogs go together. This is such an automatic pairing for me that I never really thought about where it originated but today it struck me. My Dad was a Mason for many years and when I was a kid one of the summer gatherings of the local Masonic Lodge was a summer corn roast.  Toward the end of summer when the corn was at it's peak we'd gather out at Craftsman Park and watch the men prepare bushels and bushels of fresh corn that they cooked in big aluminum trash cans over an open fire.  Inside, they served the corn in big platters with melted butter on the bottom that we rolled and rolled the corn in before it hit our plate.  Next to the corn would be big platters of hot dogs.  We'd get two or three of each then find a spot at a big communal table that would be set with bowls of sliced tomatoes  and watermelon and lots and lots of napkins. 

I can recall having contests with my cousin Chip to see who could eat the most corn.  I seem to recall him winning one year with 15 ears of corn.  Growing boys sure can eat a lot!  Anyway, this must be where this traditional pairing came from.  40 years later these are still some of my favorite foods. 

This week, local corn has begun hitting the markets.  I set out at lunchtime on Friday to visit the Market at Lock 3 in Akron to hunt down Farmer Ben from Treehouse Organics.  I'd heard he had corn and tomatoes at his stall earlier in the week and I'd been dreaming of tonights meal ever since.  Thankfully he was there so I picked up six ears of corn for the weekend.  Although he did have tomatoes, they weren't quite up to eating out of hand quality, so I passed up those for tonight in favor of the fresh green beans and cucumbers I got out of my City Fresh CSA share this week.  Unfortunately I also bypassed hot dogs for this week.  We're still in the Biggest Loser at work so although I am not going to pass up my butter for the corn, I will skip hot doges to save the calories.

Tonights meal requires no recipe.  Simply prepare your corn however you prefer, I boil mine so that I can put the beans in with it to cook in the same pan.  Alongside I served some of my cucumber salad (recipe to follow).  So simple.  So delicious. So fast. 

Mom's Cucumber Salad

1/2 cucumber, deseeded, striped and diced
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dill

Mix the sour cream, vinegar, sugar and dill in a small bowl. Add the cucumber and mix to combine. Serve and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.






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