Thursday, June 14, 2012

King Corn

We love it fresh, canned or frozen and this time of year we can't get enough of it on the cob. I'm talking about "King" corn, the vegetable that America can't live without. We are corn lovers, but I'd never really thought about HOW much corn is grown until we drove through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio last week. For as far as the eye could see in any direction, there was field after field of corn. Freshly planted just-poking-out of the ground corn, knee-high corn and lots of head-high corn waiting to be picked. Good thing, because we're a nation that runs on corn products. Ethanol use has added a huge demand for farmers and there's hardly a day that families don't have corn in some form on their tables. Sweet corn is big business, in fact it adds up to a whopping $807 million per year industry. The roasting ears that end up beside your steak tonight may have been picked yesterday. Grocery stores do their best to buy local to save on shipping costs, for us it means fresher produce. Fresh corn production peaks in July, it's perishable nature makes it a strictly seasonal vege that we have to wait for and enjoy for a limited time each year. Watch the video and you'll be pretty amazed at the amount of work involved in harvesting the corn. It makes those 33 cent ears of corn a bargain, don't you think?

American farmers simply cannot grow enough to keep up with the world's demands. My husband says the corn used for feed goes through a much longer process with shipping and processing adding to the end cost. Tyson Foods uses 235 million pounds of corn in a week's time to grow out livestock. Corn is a significant factor in the final cost of the meat you choose for tonight's dinner.

Daddy in the "salad garden," 1980

My parents grew three kinds of corn each year, sweet corn, field corn and popcorn. The sweet corn was enjoyed all summer and many ears were put into the freezer for winter meals. The field corn was left to dry in the garden, then shelled and taken up to the mill in Missouri to be ground into cornmeal. Mom stored the cornmeal in the freezer and took out as she needed. The taste was superior and my parents took pride in being able to grow the food they ate. That before organic was a mainstream word! Since we are big popcorn lovers, the job of shelling the ears was shared by the whole family. I'd walk around with sore thumb muscles for weeks!

Mom and Dad's garden-1980

In the Kitchen this week, a couple of favorites...just click on the recipe to print!
3 ears of corn (husk and silk removed)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
1 avocado (cut in half, remove pit, peel and dice)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Stand corn cob in a large bowl and with a sharp knife slice off the kernels. Add tomatoes, avocado, green onions, lime juice and oil to bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine. Delicious with any meal!

4 cups corn kernels (about 5 ears of fresh)
4 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8x8 glass baking dish. Set aside about 1/3 of the corn, then blend the remaining ingredients in a food processor until almost smooth. Stir in reserved corn kernels and pour batter into buttered dish. Bake pudding until brown and the center is set, about 45-55 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes 8 servings, but don't count on it lasting long!
*I just grate my corn off the cob with a stand up box grater and skip separating the kernels and blending in a processor. It's the perfect consistency! Don't let the small amount of flour throw you, that's all it takes to make the pudding set up perfectly.


  1. The corn fields here are just beginning to grow. We're so much later than the rest of the world. Dad didn't grow corn in his garden, because my uncle did on his farm. He grew feed corn and eating corn for the canning factory. We always had a few of the 'canning factory's' corn!! Probably snitched now that I think about it!!

    1. Snitched or bought it tastes the same!!! One time when I was a kid, I remember Dad pulling over and getting us ears of corn at the edge of a field... the lure of corn is GREAT!

  2. Many years ago I grew some corn but had to fight the worms for them. I liked the sound of that salad:)

    1. There's all kinds of tricks to keep the worms out, my dad used to put a little vegetable oil down in each one of them.

  3. I remember picking corn when I was younger, helping with husking and then being able to enjoy it fresh, on the cob and off! Good memory!

    1. I love the stuff, we've had corn on the cob with one meal this week, the corn pudding with another and last night I took the last two ears and made corn chowder to go along with BLT's!

  4. Oh, yum! My favorite veggie! I'll eat it with/on anything. The white corn is the sweetest tho.
    When I tried to grow it one year it had worms despite all efforts ... ended my growing real quickly.
    Have a wonderful day, my friend
    TTFN ~

    1. I love the white variety too, also the yellow and white "Candycorn!" Hope you've had a good Marydon!

  5. Corn is growing so quickly here with our early warm weather. I love fresh corn in the summer! A classic!

    1. Look forward to it every summer. In south Texas it grows practically year round!


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