Friday, 10 August 2007
Hot Summer Corn Days
As a child growing up in Canada, the month of August meant corn on the cob. That was something we longingly looked forward to, the whole rest of the year ... corn season. Farmers would set their wagons up on dusty, country corners, their children coerced into spending the first few weeks of their August days out in the hot sun flogging it to all us townies, who would flock out to them in huge crowds, buying dozen after dozen of the delicious golden ears. It was always a farmer’s dozen too, which meant thirteen ears. The corn was always wonderful, crisp and sweet, fresh picked just that morning …
My mom would set us to work when we got back home, in the garden at the picnic table shucking what seemed like dozens and dozens of ears. I loved feeling the silkiness of the golden tassels at the end of the cob and the sound that the husks made when you peeled them back, a sort of crackling sound that you never heard anywhere else. In the meantime my mother would be heating the water on the stove, ready to plunge the naked cobs into as soon as we brought them back in to the house.
We’d sit around the table in eager anticipation, and it would not be long before the air would be filled with the sweet aroma of boiling corn. That is all we’d have for supper on those hot summer nights, cob after cob of golden corn, covered in lashings of cold butter and oodles of salt. It was a race to see who could eat the most cobs and top the winner of the year before, our hands and faces all buttery and salty and full of corny goodness, the ends of the cobs burning our fingers in our eagerness to get stuck in … You could get fancy corn thingies that you could stick into the ends that you could hold on to, but we never bothered. They never quite worked the way they should have anyways! There was a proper way to eat corn … we’d make our way down the ears like a platen making it’s way across a typewriter bed, the only thing missing … the sound of the bell as we got to the end of the cob and hit the carriage return, starting back at the beginning … We’d eat until our bellies could hold no more and our teeth were stuck full of the little pieces of silk that got left behind, no matter how hard our fingers had tried to peel them away … if you pressed your lip up to your nose, it would smell all buttery and slightly sickly, the smell of hot summer corn days …
I've tried growing my own corn off and on through the years. Mostly it fed the racoons. We tried hanging Christmas lights on it and everything. They (the racoons) were always too smart for us. We'd go out in the morning and find it had all been decimated anyways. Racoons know exactly when the corn is ripe for picking. We gave up. It's always been a lot less stressful to just go out and buy it.
I was thinking about all of this last night when I made our supper after work. The sweet corn over here is not nearly as good as the sweet corn in North America, and I know that, but still, each year when I see it in the grocery store, I relent and buy a few ears, hoping that it will magically have transformed itself into the golden sweet ears of my childhood. Of course it never has, but we enjoy it anyways, although now we end up having to cut the kernels off the cobs to eat it and our faces are not quite as buttery when we are done …
*Perfect Corn on the Cob with Basil Lime Butter*
I love sweet corn and fresh picked sweet corn on the cob is the perfect way to eat it. Accompanied with this delicious butter there is no finer meal. The tang of lime along with the peppery spice of the basil go perfectly with the sweet crunch of the corn, not to mention the underlying heat of fresh garlic. This recipe is a real winner in my books!
8 ears of sweet corn
For the Butter:
¼ cup of basil leaves, lightly packed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup butter
1 TBS fresh lime juice (roughly the juice of one small lime)
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of sugar
First make the butter. Chop the basil fairly finely and crush the garlic. Cream the butter until quite fluffy and then cream in the basil, garlic, salt, sugar and the lime juice until it is quite smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate while you boil the corn.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a pinch of sugar to the water. Remove the husks, silk and end from each ear of corn. Rinse in cold water and then drop the ears into the boiling water, making sure they are completely covered by the water. (Don’t salt the water as it makes the corn tough) Bring the water back to the boil. Immediately cover the kettle and turn out the heat. Let the corn stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain well and serve immediately with the chilled Basil butter. Delicious!