What’s better than fresh summer corn?


Linda Conway Eriksson - Contributing Columnist



Corn is the most widely grown crop in America. Since 2007, more than 13,000,000,000 (that’s billion) bushels annually have been harvested. We use corn for food, fuel (corn ethanol), animal feed, as a base for plastic, in antifreeze, in body lotions — you name it!

Mankind’s relationship with corn is a long-lived one. The earliest examples of fossilized corn date back to around 6,000 BC. The plant on which the first corn grew was much different from the stalks we know today — shorter, with smaller ears of corn.

By the time Europeans colonized North America, corn was a staple crop of the Native Americans, who introduced it to the newcomers. The colonists planted their first acreage in corn around 1609, soon got the hang of growing it, and started exporting their surplus to Europe.

An Illinois farmer named Robert Reid hybridized the first corn, known as Yellow Dent, in the mid-1800s. It revolutionized the growing of corn, as more hybridization led to bigger and better yields, and tastier corn that could be sent longer distances and still retain its fresh-picked flavor. Yellow Dent is still the most popular feed lot corn, which accounts for billions of the bushels that are grown in the U.S.

Of all the corn products, high fructose corn syrup is perhaps the most widely used worldwide. Most manufacturers of canned goods who sweeten their products use corn syrup instead of sugar, and have for many years.

Who knows how many more uses man will find for corn? I’m easily satisfied. As long as I can eat my share I’m happy. Corn from our gardens delights us in the summer. It’s easy to grow, and so delicious fresh from the field.

Let’s see what I can find that’s a little different way to enjoy corn, while we can get it fresh. Epicurious, one of the wonderful online recipe sources, offered this one. Try it just like this, then the second time play with the herbs to get your own special taste.

Bet you can’t eat just one spoonful.

SUMMER

CORN SAUTE

WITH HERBS

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 large shallot, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

6 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 9 large ears)

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley)

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat.

Add shallot and cumin seeds. Sauté until shallot is golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Add corn kernels, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until corn is tender, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and mix in all herbs. Season to taste with salt. Transfer corn to bowl and serve.

Serves six.

SUMMER CORN

CHOWDER

WITH BACON

6 slices bacon, chopped

7 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 8 ears)

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh fennel bulb

2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled russet potatoes

3 cups (or more) chicken broth, homemade or quality canned

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil

In a large pot over medium high heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Add corn, fennel, and potatoes to drippings in pot; sauté 5 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and simmer uncovered over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer 3 cups soup to blender. Holding blender top firmly, puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pot. Stir in cream and cayenne, if using.

Bring chowder to simmer, thinning with more broth if too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chowder into bowls and sprinkle with bacon and chives.

Serves six.

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at ieatatmoms@gmail.com.

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Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist

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