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Monday, May 2, 2016

Sweet corn season

Friday, August 19, 2011

We were taking a trip to Colorado and were staying at a home in the mountains. We would not be living in close proximity to any restaurants so we planned to make most of our own meals. It would be the best treat ever for the families joining us there if we could bring along some good old Iowa

sweet corn. Our family claims there is no better eating than that. Our own crop was too immature to pick but ordinarily we know several farmer-friends who have corn before anyone else. We made phone calls to check but this year we were out of luck. We went on our trip without any sweet corn.

Eight days later, and two hours after we arrived back home, my husband was heading for the farm to check on the sweet corn. It was ready! He came home with a large bucketful and we had an all-vegetable supper that night - string beans, cucumbers with onions, our first tomatoes and corn on the cob.

We moved off the farm 8 years ago and have had to rely on others for sweet corn ever since. My husband hated that. He loved those years when he could come to town with a pickup full of fat, green shrouded ears of sweet corn and pass them out to town-dwellers who didn't have a patch. He would have a few zucchini squash and maybe a pail of cucumbers to share, too. We never seemed to have as many tomatoes as we could use ourselves so his generosity ended just before he got into the tomato patch.

Currently his garden is on the acreage of our son 2 miles out of town. There are a couple of acres next to it that were once a horse pasture for their riding horses. The horses are gone and those acres were doing nothing but growing weeds. This year he talked his way into his being allowed to find someone to plow it up. He bought the sweet corn seed, has a beautiful crop and is back in the passing-out-sweet-corn business. And we do have corn! Not everyone wants 200 ears but those who freeze it for use this winter are more than happy to claim that many or more.

My niece from Kansas City happened to be in the area today and we asked her to take corn back to our families there. My husband has two sons, a brother and sister, a niece and two nephews who live there all of whom have families of their own. "How many ears did you bring?" she asked as she approached the back of our van.

Her face paled when I answered, "About 300."

"Will that fit into my car?" she asked, "and how can we possibly use that much?" I assured her that is not much when it gets divided between 6 or 7 families. She took it and phoned her mother to let her know it was on the way. She isn't expected to distribute it - anyone who wants some has to come to her mother's home to get it. I know our sons will be the first ones on her doorstep. They do love their Iowa corn. A couple who were with us on vacation said when they have a big family meal they always expect our Brian and Katie to bring Iowa corn. Brian has it because when we visit them our thanks-for-the-hospitality gift is usually frozen produce from Iowa, jars of refrigerator pickles and homemade grape, rhubarb, strawberry or blackberry jams. It is a tactic that guarantees the invitation for a repeat visit.

I know in my heart it is worth it, but picking, cleaning and freezing corn is hard work. We put 40 pints into the freezer one day and were in the process of doing another batch of that size the next day. I was helping fill zip-lock bags with corn and getting a bit weary of handling the sticky stuff. My husband looked up from his job of cutting the kernels from the cobs and asked enthusiastically, "Are you having as much fun as I am? I love doing this."

I wiped a gluey splotch from my glasses - the corn often spits during the cutting process -- looked at the mess we were making in the kitchen, stretched my aching back and answered meekly (and dishonestly). "I guess so." mdroder@yahoo.com

By Mary S. Roder
Musing With Mary

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