FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.
CSA Journal: A corny kitchen comeback
This week’s haul:
1 flat raspberries and blackberries
2 bushels corn
1 quart peaches
Before I get back into this column, I have to say a word about the power of a home-cooked meal from somebody else’s kitchen.
I’ve taken a few weeks off because we had our second baby in late June. We haven’t been slaving away in the kitchen at dinnertime every night, thanks in large part to a host of friends who have brought delicious meals to our home, leaving our nights calmer and our bellies satisfied.
I’ve brought meals to people with new babies or other major life happenings before, but it wasn’t until I had my own babies and saw those meals coming through my door that I realized what a pure source of comfort and nourishment they can be.
You don’t need to do anything elaborate. Often the simplest meals are the best, and easiest in hectic times.
Food really does taste better when somebody else makes it, especially when you know that somebody cared enough to want you to spend your precious waking hours thinking about something other than what’s for dinner and who’s cooking it.
If you are organizing meal-bringing with a group, make sure to check out some of the many online meal delivery tools available today.
My own moms’ group uses TakeThemAMeal.com, which allows an organizer to invite people via e-mail to sign up for nights to cook for a family. You can specify how to get the meals to the family, any food allergies in the house and other details. Those cooking meals can make sure they don’t overlap nights, and can see what everyone else is bringing, to get ideas and ensure variety. And the recipient gets a nice little e-mail the day before a meal is scheduled to be delivered, letting them know what to expect.
There are many other tools out there like this, but this one has worked well for our group. Thanks to everyone for the meals, I look forward to cooking for many more new babies in the coming months!
Now, about that CSA share.
Since the last column I wrote, we’ve moved into full-on summer deliciousness. We’ve had generous helpings of tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, bell peppers, berries and peaches, and of course, sweet corn.
In fact, this week I think you could say our helping of sweet corn was more than generous. My husband came home from the pickup at Snead’s with two giant green mesh bags containing 84 ears.
Eighty-four ears. Two bushels.
Since we don’t have time to set up a full-service corn-themed restaurant in our home, we sent one bag into the newsroom at The Free Lance-Star, where I’m told it disappeared within minutes.
We shared a dozen ears with family, another small bagful with another friend, and still, we had a weighty bag of corn on the floor of our kitchen.
Don’t get me wrong, with drought conditions nationwide causing a reported shortage of corn, I’m grateful to have enough to share. It’s great quality, and very fresh, but still, that’s a lot of corn to bring home!
I blanched eight ears one afternoon and put away about six cups of corn cut from the cob to use in recipes later in the year. Corn is easy to freeze, but make sure to portion it out into amounts you’re likely to cook with later on to avoid wasting it, or having to thaw and re-freeze, which is not ideal.
We ate an ear or two apiece most nights alongside our dinners. You can look at all the corn recipes you want, but it’s pretty hard to beat classic corn on the cob with butter, salt and pepper.
But I did need to look to my cookbooks and the Web to find some new and different ways to serve this stuff.
Corn muffins sounded good to me, something I could put in the freezer so we could have homemade bread to pair with weeknight dinners. As I browsed corn recipes, however, most of them called for canned creamed corn. I wanted to use fresh corn.
I’m never one to shy away from shoving as many vegetables as possible into one recipe, so when I came upon a recipe for zucchini cornbread on Epicurious.com, I was intrigued. The problem was, it used cornmeal, but no actual whole corn.
So I messed with it a little. I decided to puree the corn to allow it to become part of the liquid ingredients. What resulted was a moist muffin that is just sweet enough to be a sweet dinner bread, but not so overpowering that you’d expect to find it on a pastry cart. If I make it again I might try adding some cheese to the batter.
I’ve got a few other plans for the remaining corn. This recipe for corn gratin with tomatoes and squash from Good Housekeeping looks to me like a great way to put a lot of summer vegetables to good use–with cheese.
These spicy corn fritters from Simply Recipes look like another good bet, but I’m afraid they might exceed my available time for standing at the stove right now.
If you’ve found yourself with an abundance of corn this year, I’d love to know how you’re putting it to use. Send ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipe: Zucchini and fresh corn muffins
adapted from Epicurious.com
Makes: 18 muffins
2 cups fresh corn, cut from cob (from about three ears)
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or just use more all-purpose)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease a standard muffin pan.
In a food processor, pulse corn until slightly pureed. Add buttermilk, eggs, sugar and melted butter (cooled), and pulse until mixed. In a small mixing bowl, fold the zucchini into this mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix lightly until just incorporated.
Spoon into muffin tins and bake 22 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.