Friday, August 7, 2015

Corn Cobs

Corn seems to be the prevalent crop in the area where we live, and corn fields are *everywhere*; almost all the farms have swathes of them, and patches are even seemingly squeezed into (albeit relatively large) gaps between urban houses and in fields next to the numerous churches around here.  They almost change the landscape from season to season.  

Apparently one of our neighbours grew his own little corn plantation in a corner of his back yard last year.  Unsurprising, then, that sweetcorn is confirmed as Pennsylvania's largest vegetable crop.  

Sweetcorn season is from early July to the end of September, and you'll often see "corn countdown" signs by the roadside market stands in early summer, counting down the days until the fresh corn is available.  I guess the warm, wet springs and humid summers make perfect growing weather, and it seems the corn grows from tiny stubs to tall (over 6 feet) crackling fields of green in a matter of weeks.  And it's grown really closely together - not like in the movies where you see people tramping (or frequently running) between the rows - you'd be hard-pushed to get more than a foot in between these stalks!

The fresh produce stands are great - we have several within a few miles drive of the house, but have only recently properly discovered them.  Corn is relatively inexpensive, and often sold in bulk (ie ears sold still in their husks, by the dozen), although we haven't yet found a good place to store it when the temperatures are so warm, so we try to stick to small amounts. You can still get pre-packaged corn in the supermarkets like we're used to at home, but they also sell it loose in husks too - providing big black bins next to the shelves where you can strip the green leaves off yourself and pay less weight-wise!

Fresh corn is a treat, boiled or steamed on the cob and served simply with butter, but it's also lovely on the barbeque, slightly char-grilled.  There are also plenty of authentic Pennsylvanian Dutch recipes for chicken and corn soup dishes.  According to The Project Gutenberg EBook of Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking, by Unknown:
"One of the favorite summer soups in the Pennsylvania Dutch country is Chicken Corn Soup. Few Sunday School picnic suppers would be considered complete without gallons of this hearty soup."
Their traditional recipe:

Not yet tried it, but maybe a nice warming dish to cook up in the autumn!

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