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Corn, the Candy of Summer

July 11, 2014

Right now, with summer under way, all of us are planning picnics, parties and family celebrations.  Also in summer is a bounty of farm fresh produce to inspire our menus.  For many, the star of many of these summertime meals, whether is be at a shrimp boil on the beach or a backyard barbecue, is milky-sweet, homey corn, right off the cob.  About now, roadside stands are popping up all over our united states with mounds for the picking, and your local grocery may have a pile of fresh corn to peel right there in the store.  It’s a wonderful time to treat yourself to this almost candy-like vegetable that is a favorite of so many.  

 

With a multitude of other vegetables on the culinary forefront these days, some that really need an acquired taste, corn feels like a guilty pleasure.  In summer, it’s one we should take, enjoying it’s blatant deliciousness while recreating and reliving food memories we’ve been making for years with farm fresh corn.

 

 

While we all know how important corn was as an early American food, it’s taken scientists decades to learn how corn evolved as a domesticated, cultivated grain.  They now know that corn, or maize, like wheat and rice, has a wild ancestor.  Corn is related to a grass called teosinte.  Over many years, but with surprisingly dramatic effects, early farmers began the process of seed selection, saving and planting kernels from plants with desirable characteristics.  This was the primitive beginning of hybridization.  

 

The early corn of our ancestors was called field corn and was somewhat different from what we now grow and eat today.  Some field corn was eaten fresh, but most of it was used dried and ground into cornmeal. It was also used as a livestock feed.  The uses of corn today is almost innumerable, making it one of the most studied, reviewed and important crops of our agricultural economy.  

Many people today wonder if corn is even good for you.  While it’s true that corn is high in sugar and starch, it possesses a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin B6 and Magnesium.  It also contains a significant amount of dietary fiber.  Add to that the simple pleasure eating a fresh ear of corn.  Taking that first bite of fresh corn is a taste sensation; something we shouldn’t deny ourselves. It brings a little happiness, and that has got to be good for you.

Fresh Corn Roasted with Herb Butter

Yield: 6 servings

 

This delicious herb butter is also good on other vegetables,

steak, chicken, seafood, or grilled bread.

  

 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

  2 1/2 tablespoon minced green onion

 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

 1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley

 1 teaspoon salt

 1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 to 2 dashes, hot sauce

 

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, green onion, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, and hot sauce.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 7 days. Leave the husks on the corn, but remove the silk strands.  Spread each ear of corn with 1 tablespoon of herb butter.   Wrap each ear in the husk in foil. 

 

Roast the corn on the barbeque grill, turning every 3 to 4 minutes for 10 to 15-minutes, or use the oven broiler and place the corn 4-inches from the heating element for 30-minutes, turning every 5 to 10-minutes,  or until the kernels are tender. Unwrap the foil and detach and discard the husks and any remaining silks.  Spread the corn with any of the remaining butter.

  

 

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