The father-in-law of one of the secretaries at my school has farmed his whole life. Though he reached the age when many people retire years ago, there are parts of farming that he can’t let go. Every year he grows sweet corn on a scale that must be considered more crop than garden. Everyone at our school benefits from his efforts.
I decided to preserve the corn I received after finding food.com’s instructions for freezing fresh corn. Step 1:Shucking the Corn is the kind of chore that can be done while your mind is a million miles away. My mind was on the back porch on a hot summer day in the early 1970s. Sitting on the concrete stoop I happily worked through a stack of corn that someone had given to our family helping to stretch the food budget required to fill the bottomless bellies of so many growing children.
Corn on the cob was one of the best things about summer in my mind. I could make a meal of buttery, sweet corn. I loved pretending with my brothers that our corn eating was like fingers flying across the keys of a typewriter reaching the end of the page with a ding and returning to the other side for yet another line.
I took pride in my ability to remove more of the corn silks than my older brothers could. No one would get a silk caught like floss in their teeth as long as I was performing quality control. I often reworked ears of corn my brothers had deemed ready for the pot of boiling water shaking my head at their feeble attempts.
Step 2: Cook the ears in boiling, salted water for four minutes. The steam rising above my huge soup pot as I drop in each ear causes my glasses to fog over. I think of my mother in her hot kitchen. Our house was cooled–on those summers that it was cooled at all–by a single window air unit positioned in the living room at the farthest point from the kitchen possible. Standing near the steaming pot in my own comfortable kitchen I suddenly remember that there was at some point during my childhood a unit in the window by the kitchen pantry. I don’t recall it ever being there, but a memory of my dad removing it floats through my brain. I am peeking at him from inside as he works outside the window. Normally, he would grin at me but in this memory he is discouraged. Why had I never made the connection between this memory and the many memories of my mother’s flushed face as she stood working at the hot stove?
Step 3: Lay the ears on a clean dishtowel to drain and cool. Step 4: Once cooled to the touch, stick the end of an ear into the opening of the center tube of an angel food or bundt cake pan. Using a paring knife cut the kernels from the cob letting them fall into the cake pan. Going through the motions I can’t help but notice how much my hands have come to resemble my mother’s. Her hands are the things I remember most vividly about her perhaps because they were always moving, always delving into some project that would directly benefit me.
Step 5: Melt butter (1/3 cup was perfect for a dozen ears) , drizzle over the corn and toss. Place corn in an airtight container and freeze.
I tasted the corn before slipping it into my freezer and smiled at the same buttery goodness I remember from my childhood. I started this project with the idea I was preserving corn, but came to understand I was really preserving memories. Memories of childhood summers with simple pleasures in a family who surrounded me in love.
I found a really, really delicious recipe for cinnamon bread on Pinterest. The original recipe feeds a large family; it makes five loaves and calls for seventeen cups of flour. I cut the recipe in half, and it turned out perfectly.
The dough puffed up so nicely. When I saw this at the end of the rising time, I started to feel really lucky. The dough felt so nice the whole time I worked with it, I could just tell this was going to make a good bread.
And I was not disappointed.
Slices of the cinnamon bread made tremendous French toast. Though if the kids had been home the warm loaves would have been devoured as soon as they could be cut.
Shared a pin you actually tried.
The idea for the post came from Mama Kat: Share something you learned, bought, read, and cooked in November.
First, I planted fruit trees; then I felt the need to learn to can. Long before the first juicy piece of fruit formed on a branch, I wanted the know-how to safely “put up” my harvest as generations of savvy women have before me. November finally provided the moment (lots and lots of moments, actually) I’d been waiting for. I bought an assortment of jars in fun shapes and sizes. I read about pectin, water baths, pressure canning and botulism. I collected recipes and a bushel and a peck or so of apples. Finally, I jumped–head long without a net–into the world of food preservation.
And here is where our story takes an unexpected turn. There is something the jar folks, be they Mason, Ball or Kerr don’t talk about. If you have an addictive personality, canning may not be the kitchen activity for you. The ping of a lid that has just completely sealed in freshness is oh, so gratifying. Add rows of other freshly filled jars so that the ping becomes a chorus…. forget about it. Totally hooked. Sometimes after a day of particularly heavy canning, I would lie awake in bed wondering about those couple of lids that had not pinged. Agitated, I would toss and turn until at last the welcome sound of a distant ping would reach my ear, allowing me to relax and drift off to sleep. And those jars–wide mouth or jelly, squat or tall–line them up side by side on a shelf in the pantry and see if you don’t find yourself returning just to stare glassy-eyed at their shiny presence. It’s a heady feeling, this canning scene. It shouldn’t be entered into lightly. As for me, its too late. I’m addicted.
Explanation of canning terminology: simplycanning.com
Recipes: Apple jelly tallcloverfarm.com Applesauce in a Crock Pot cooks.com
Apple Butter foodnetwork.com Apple Pie Filling foodinjars.com
Testing when jelly is set: National Center for Home Food Preservation
When to use pectin: pickyourown.org
Water bath canning: foodinjars.com
I saw this Christmas light display on my way home tonight. I could only shake my head and think, You poor sap! Pretty sure the canning addiction just claimed another victim.
Recipe here. A Pinterest find.
I found a recipe for homemade apple fritters at The Kitchn. Being a fritter fan I decided to stretch the concept of bread for this week’s “loaf”.
The dough and filling steps were not at all hard. Trouble shooting tips for the frying stage were provided.
Bonus tip for cheap decorating: We have been combining entertainment and decorating in order to get more bang for our buck, first with the puzzle and then with souvenirs of our travels. There are also studios of different varieties where you meet friends, and produce something artsy while socializing. This is a way my oldest daughter has added personal touches to her place. She has done ceramics at a pottery place and made a colorful plate at a fused glass place. Most recently, she met a group of her dental friends at an Oklahoma City establishment called Wine and Palette. You sip wine and create a painting for your place while enjoying an evening with friends. Two birds, one stone.
Late summers of my childhood brought bags full of friends’ excess produce from their gardens. Thoughtful folks with far too many vegetables to contend with on their own, graciously remembered all the mouths my parents had to feed. I can’t imagine the gift these bundles of fresh produce really were to my family’s budget. We loved to see tomatoes and watermelon arrive, but my mom would shudder with disgust when a bag of squash was brought to our door. She didn’t have the slightest idea how to fix squash so that it turned out any way other than slimy and soggy. And it came in such mass quantities! Finally, someone shared with her the idea of baking one of the most prolific varieties into a delicious bread. Thus began our family love affair with zucchini bread.
Recipe from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl mix oil, eggs, zucchini, walnuts and orange peel. Stir wet mixture into dry until just moistened.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 1 hr. 10 min.)