Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Corn

July 15, 2009

Ahhhh, summertime…and the living is……delicious!

I love summer food. Nothing like from the garden or farmers’ market fresh, is there? Right now I’m awaiting the first summer tomatoes and bowing to the tomato gods in the great blue sky for a good harvest and I think they are listening by the looks of our garden this year! However, corn is here and so far, it’s simply fabulous!

Corn on the cob was a great thing in the summer when I was growing up. My father, a tree surgeon by trade and a farmer wannabe was the biggest fan of fresh corn on the cob I’ve ever known.

There was a farm stand near us on County Line Road in Hatboro when I was growing up. I believe it was called Sylvestry’s. Anyone ever hear of it? Long before all that development encroached upon the area, it was located along the roadway not far from the Thriftway shopping center. Sitting on the opposite side of the road from the grocery store, it sat in a gravel parking lot with several large farm fields behind the ramshackle store.

The place was a simple wooden structure, large by farm stand standards, that had side panels that lifted off from halfway up the structure to the roof. Whitewashed with a black shingled roof, there was a line of tables all around the perimeter and a maze of freestanding tables in the middle with the cash register and counter in the center.

Visiting the place, you could feel a breeze blow through the open walls and smell the fragrance of fresh peaches waft through the air. Fresh cut gladioulis sat in tall, narrow buckets with their colorful petals fully open from the bottom to the barely exposed color of the top blossoms on the tall stalks.

My mother used to make weekly trips to purchase melons, tomatoes and nectarines, Italian plums and fresh picked green beans, passing up the tired produce at the Thriftway.

But, it was my father who bought the fresh corn. As a tree surgeon, he was a traveling guy and would make a quick stop at Sylvestry’s on his way home from one of his jobs. A friendly guy; my dad was good friends with Mr. Sylvestry and they somehow worked it out that he could go out into the field and pick the corn himself.

He’d bring a baker’s dozen home, warm from the field. Remember how they used to give baker’s dozens back then? A total of 13 in a sack, instead of the usual 12 for things like donuts, bagels and even corn.

To my dad, there was nothing quite like corn picked just moments before cooking. According to his taste buds, it was so much better than if it were picked fresh that very morning and you know what? He’s right.

My mother would cook up a huge pot of corn and whatever else she was making seemed secondary to this fresh, delicious pleasure my dad brought home. He could and often would eat all but the single ears of corn we’d eat in one sitting. With four of us and a baker’s dozen, that left him with ten ears of corn and you never saw a happier man!

LOCAL TIP: Trauger’s Farm Market is a local gem here in the eastern portion of Upper Bucks County. The family has been farming the land between the Delaware Canal and the Delaware River for decades. When I moved here 17 years ago this month, they had a little stand at their farm that was about the size of a postage stamp and closed for the season sometime in the fall. Today, they are open six days a week, year round and offer all sorts of produce, but I love them for the corn they sell each summer, and the melons, oh and the tomatoes! Check them out at: http://www.traugers.com/

COOKING TIP: Typically I boil corn if I just can’t wait to eat it or time is of the essence. But, my favorite cooking method is to roast it on the grill.

Have you ever roasted corn? It is the easiest and tastiest technique. I remove the husks and silk and roll in foil. Soak in cold water, foil and all for about 30 minutes. Place on the grill for about 10-15 minutes over a medium-high heat, turning about every 5 minutes.

The corn will be hot and hold in the foil for about 15-20 minutes while you cook something else to go with it for dinner. I’m not sure why you would, but for some people corn on the cob just isn’t a full meal.

Remove the foil and the corn ought to have some patches of brown (my all time favorite) that gives a nutty, roasted flavor. For some, flavored butter, a squirt of lime or umeboshi paste (Japanese Plum paste) - http://www.edenfoods.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=110180 - are fun, but for me slather some butter over the cob, add some salt and pepper, you have good summer eatin’.

Guess I’ll have to stop by the farmers’ market tonight on the way home!

1 comment:

  1. Patrick BowersockJuly 15, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    I share your love of fresh corn, and Traugers in our area to get it. The technique I use to grill it is to simply throw the whole thing, husk, silk and all on the grill. When the husks turn black, the corn inside is cooked and has a few of those heavenly brown spots you're so fond of. Just another method for the same results!

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