Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Last Chance to be Corny

With all the High Fructose Corn Syrup rants out there, it's hard to know what to do.  I believe the research that says that HFCS does not provide sweetness satiety to the human brain.  When people doubt this, especially those who knew me as a child, I like to remind them that never was there enough pecan pie to satisfy me!  And, pecan pie is LOADED with corn syrup.  While my Pecan Pie gluttony has abated over the years, this year's Thanksgiving Pecan Pie is going to be made with Lyle's Golden Syrup.  It's a pure cane syrup (no this is not a plug).  It's my own little experiment.  I wanna see if it makes a difference in sugar satiety. Not that I can eat whole pies any longer -- probably shouldn't even eat a single wedge.  At this point if I don't lose some pudge there won't be any pecan pie around here at all. But that's another story...

Around here, during the summer months, folks don't think about the pros and cons of HFCS.  Instead, everyone looks forward to the opening of  a little place called Burwinkel's. It's a farm market. In an area peppered with a fair number of farm markets, the Burwinkel's location near me is one of the smaller farm stands.   A very nice farm market, no doubt,  selling  tomatoes, green beans, corn, potatoes, watermelons and the like.  However, their true claim to fame is sweet corn.  Not just any old sweet corn, mind you. Burwinkel's sweet corn! They are growers and purveyors of incredibly good and,  by some standards, the best sweet corn -- tons of it.  Folks drive in from miles around just to buy Burwinkel's corn.  Burwinkels sells corn wholesale to just about every food retailer around these parts. Let's just say they really get their corn on... acres and acres of it strategically planted to be harvested all summer. When someone asks about the corn, all you have to say is Burwinkel's -- enough said. Now, sadly, the fields are slowly emptying as corn season wanes.

My very dear, late father-in-law was sweet corn-on-the-cob's greatest fan. He could, if given the opportunity, eat a dozen ears of sweet corn in one sitting. Corn and tomatoes.  That was his preferred summertime meal, when there was really good corn to be had.

Newly married and not forewarned, I sat in silent awe, as I watched this summertime ritual unfold.  Sitting at the head of the table, a large napkin at the ready, he would slowly and happily polish through up to a dozen ears of steaming, sweet, white corn, savoring every glistening-with-butter morsel, crunchy with salt, speckled with pepper.

My in-laws always seemed to have wonderful corn on the table. My mother-in-law's frozen corn was wonderful.  Sweet, fresh tasting.  A little butter and it was heaven on a plate. When I asked her why it was just so darn good,  she would smile her sweet smile and say her trick was a teaspoon of sugar.  Sugar, not corn syrup.  I don't advocate putting sugar into vegetables but I have to admit that her frozen corn was extraordinarily delicious!

My husband tells me that when he was a child he would watch as his parents processed corn for freezing. His father would cut dozens and dozens of ears. His mother would put it into bags and into the freezer it would go.  Dozens and dozens of bags.  Granted it took quite a bit of corn to feed eight hungry mouths over the winter. But my in-laws' devotion to the corn preserving process is legendary.  They knew their corn.

Loath to give up on summer, for the last week we've been buying corn than usual, eating an ear or two as the mood strikes.  We buy half a dozen at a time and, as there are only two or three of us, there are bound to be leftovers.  Can't throw it away -- that would be a travesty of agricultural justice!  So I save it, raw or cooked, and the next day or so, cut it off the cob and fry it.  For anyone from mid-west corn country fried corn is a summertime treat. The historical frugality of the region's inhabitants  live by waste not want not, especially if you grow it yourself or have to pay for it. So I fry corn. Like my mother.  Like my mother-in law.  We frugal gals fry corn.

In the winter months, this recipe works just as well with frozen corn.  I've never tried it with canned corn but I suspect it would work just fine as long as you drained it first.  It would be a pretty tasty addition to the wintertime veggie side dish repertoire.

So, next time you have a few extra ears or a bag of frozen corn hanging around, give this a try -- and forget about all that high fructose corn syrup -- with all this corn, it has to be in there somewhere.

Fried Corn

Per Serving:

2 ears of corn cut from cob or 3/4 cup frozen corn
1/4 diced red or green bell pepper or combination of both
1 TBS finely diced onion
1 tsp olive or other favorite cooking oil
1 tsp butter (optionalbut it tastes incredibly good with the corn)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste (lots works well)

In large non-stick skillet over medium heat add oil and butter.  When hot saute onion and bell peppers until soft (about five minutes).  Add corn and continue to saute, stirring constantly, until corn is heated through and a crust (or fond) begins to form on the bottom (another 5-10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. 

When I have some, I push the corn aside in the skillet and add a few ham slices.  Heat covered on low for five minutes, add a few sliced tomatoes and you're all set.

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