I have a great deal of respect for farmers who grow sweet corn. It is not an easy task, particularly if trying to grow it without the excess use of fertilizers and pesticides — not to mention the potential for crop damage by nature and nature’s wildlife.
We grew corn one summer. It was a hybrid variety called Kandy Korn, and we picked it because the elderly couple from whom we normally made our summer corn purchases had retired from farming. They were the only farm in the area who grew this variety, that we knew of, and the unbelievable deliciousness of it was something for which we waited all year, every year. With this farm out of production, it seemed we had no choice but to commit a portion of our garden to corn.
Things went well. I hoed religiously and planted beans and cucumbers nearby, known to be helpful companion plants. The corn was knee-high by the Fourth of July, and we took that as a good sign. By late July, our small plot of Kandy Korn had formed several solid ears on each healthy stalk. It was a pretty exciting time for us newbie “farmers.”
The day came when we proudly plucked four ears of corn, sat on the back step and shucked them. There was not a worm or insect lurking beneath the husks and every kernel was perfectly lined up. Into the pot of boiling water they went and we sat down and sank our teeth into the freshest, sweetest corn we had ever tasted. It was a glorious moment and we looked forward to many more summer meals featuring our very own crop.
Until the next morning, when we got up and looked out the windows onto a terrible sight. Our garden — primarily the stand of corn — looked as if a small tornado had targeted us personally, laying low every single corn stalk. A closer and sadder inspection led us to realize that we were not the only ones who had patiently waited for the corn to reach the heights of perfection.
Not only was the corn trampled, but every single ear left behind had a big bite taken out of it, the raccoons’ way of reminding us that pride goes before a fall.
We moved away from that house the next summer, and in Newtown our shady plot is a challenge for any vegetables, let alone the sun-loving stand of corn. Our one brief summer of farming corn and disastrous interaction with nature was just a memory.
We have eaten many more meals of corn, though, thanks to the many local farmers who are able to overcome the obstacles Mother Nature likes to throw in their paths as they nurture corn from seed to market.
The sweetness of summer is found in each bite of newly picked corn that we buy at the market. However, I don’t think our family has ever cherished cobs of corn more than those four lone ears we grew ourselves.
Savory Double Corn Pancakes
Heat an electric griddle to 375 degrees.
1½ C whole wheat pastry flour
½ C stone ground yellow corn meal
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chipotle chili powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 ear of fresh corn
1 small jalapeño pepper, minced
¼ C minced sweet onion
½ -3/4 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
1½ C lowfat milk
½ C plain yogurt
2 Tbs canola oil
2 tsp maple syrup
Cut the kernels of corn from the husked corn. Steam or microwave briefly. Drain and set aside.
Stir dry ingredients together.
Whisk wet ingredients thoroughly. Stir in corn, jalapeño, cheese, and onion.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well, but do not beat.
Scoop out batter with a 1/3 cup measure onto the hot griddle. Cook for about 2-2½ minute. When bubbles on top begin to burst, turn.
Do not press down on the pancake! Cook for about another 2½ minutes or until both sides are golden. Serve hot, topped with salsa and sour cream.
Makes about 12 pancakes.