CORN FOR ALL SEASONS: by Shiela Fuller
Originally cultivated in Mexico, corn was transported back to European countries by early explorers. It was a plant that had the ability to thrive in a variety of climates, turning corn into a versatile crop.
In the northeast, corn is planted in spring after the last frost for a mid-summer harvest, but corn, in its many forms is enjoyed year round.
Purchase whole corn on the cob from local farm markets or roadside stands. Bring it home, boil the water while you husk the corn. Drop the whole cob in the rolling water for about 4 minutes. Carefully remove, and smear with grass-fed butter. The quicker the corn goes from field to pot, the sweeter it will taste as corn loses it sweetness over time.
There are so many fun corn recipes to try. Here are a few suggestions to google:
*Make homemade salsa. So easy, especially with added peppers, onion, and tomatillo, all fresh from the farm market. Don’t forget the corn chips!
*Grate corn off the cob, saute, and add to pasta.
*Make creamed corn. I’m sure it’s better than canned.
*Grill corn in husks on a BBQ or open fire.
By September, the farmers sometimes offer the entire corn stalk for sale. Tie a bunch up with some twine and tie it securely to a post. Add a pumpkin or some raked up leaves, and have an instant fall decoration. You may also find a variety of multi colored, dried corn cobs, also called Indian corn, for hanging on a front door. If there are young children at home, perhaps a craft making Indian corn with bubble wrap would appeal to them. http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2008/11/lend-me-your-ear.html
Autumn days are sometimes spectacular and a good way to enjoy weather is at a local corn maze.
http://www.cornmaze.com/Pages/Corn%20Maze%20Cornfield%20Maze.aspx The older kids will love running around and “getting lost”.
With everyone at school or work, winter is the time to think about comfort foods and what is more comforting than old-fashioned corn bread cooked in a cast iron skillet. In Crescent Dragonwagon’s book, The Cornbread Gospels, there is a fabulous recipe, Sylvia’s Ozark Cornbread, so easy, Dragonwagon states, “…you could eat it daily.”
Popped corn is fun no matter the season but have you ever popped it on a stove? As an after school snack, it’s easy and clean-up is quick. Tastier than microwave versions and healthier, too, popping corn is different than the variety eaten off the cob but easily purchased at any grocery store. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_popcorn/
After the popping is complete add your favorite topping such as butter, salt, tamari or grated cheese.
Spring is a time for renewal. The farmers are thinking about preparing their land to support the summer corn plot. The seeds planted may have been saved from the previous year crop or purchased from a supplier. Each kernel on a cob of corn has the potential to be a new corn plant.
Home gardeners can plant corn, too. Browse the seed catalogs and choose heritage or heirloom varieties that will resist pests and require less need for chemicals of any sort. In the catalogs you will also find useful information on the specifications of growing corn. You also can save seeds and learn more about it at www.seedsavers.org
https://kidsongs.com/lyrics/the-muffin-man.html/ Perhaps renew a time from your own past and share this traditional English nursery rhyme with the young children in your life. And if you’re interested to know more about the muffin man and how he came about, read the Wikipedia article:
Dragonwagon, Crescent, and Andrea Wisnewski. The Cornbread Gospels. New York: Workman, 2007. Print.
Fun websites if kids are interested in learning more about corn:
Johanna Staton, Me, Shiela Fuller at one of the NJSCBWI events.