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What Y'all're Saying About Corn ...

You hit my mojo!

I come from a large family, and one of my fondest memories is busting a good juicy 'cob splatter' across the dinner table and into the clothing and eyes of my startled siblings. Ma used to boil it in the husk, fresh picked, riper than an LA debutante and twice as sweet. Big meaty kernels, hot, salted and slathered with (homemade) butter. Heaven, absolute heaven. But there's a trick... You first boil it in the husk, lots of water, and then peel it, season it to taste and re-boil it rapidly until it's ready to fall off the cob. Oh the bliss ... When I first came to this country I took a tour of the Indian reservations along the Pacific coast. They kept harping on Anglo/Indian history, while glossing over the dietary habits. How silly, I thought... screw Custer, how did Mini-Haha make that corn taste so good! I mean really ... I'll probably never attack an Indian village, but I'm damnably sure that I'll eat corn again, someday. Priorities Davey Crockett, priorities! Now I'm hungry. Never shop, or READ on an empty stomach.

Ian


You've gotta love the "butter and sugar" corn with mixed yellow and white kernels. We call it "native corn" here, but I think it's grown everywhere, isn't it? We steam them, so we don't boil out the flavor, although Ian's idea of boiling them in the husk sounds enticing. We also grill them outside- right in the husks, so they cook in their own juices. The husks turn black, but the corn inside is absolutely succulent (love that word). Actually, like Ian, I am a corn freak-- especially fresh-picked and on the cob. I could eat it daily, and never tire of it, but they'd have to hang a "HazMat" sign on me due to the high concentration of oil in my blood from all that butter. Popcorn is popped nightly in this house -- lots n' lots of it. Corn bread is a delicacy, and I SWEAR "Zapotec," a Mexican restaurant on M.V. that I took Powers to last year, makes THE BEST polenta on the face of the earth. Corn? It sits highest on my list of favorite vegetables -- just above Ronnie Reagan.

~Mac


As a wee lad, life spent in the summer amidst the rural grandeur of Iowa was a life surrounded by fields of corn. A great place to explore, fantasize, and hide when it was time for chores. Until I read Stephen King's "Children of the Corn", that is. At any rate, my mother was a canning and preserving fiend. We had an entire acre devoted to gardening, and she saw to it that every last square inch was utilized. For a family of 7, it wasn't nearly enough, far as she was concerned. Each springtime ritual began with my father's rototilling of the plot, accompanied by the aroma of gas exhaust and colorful metaphors which he seemed to use in clusters to keep the rototiller running. Then came the planting, watering, weeding, etc., until the garden was lush and ready for the summer's harvest. Then Ma's preserving software would kick in with a vengeance. It didn't matter what it was: if it came from the garden, it was prepared and preserved. Corn was high on her list of things to render down for preservation. Shucked corn. Creamed corn. Corn on the cob. Corn off the cob. Fritters, pones, powder for batter, and on and on. Even the cob. One year, she tried making corncob jelly. To this day, I haven't the foggiest what went into it; I just remember being exhorted to keep grinding down those mountains of corncobs to a broken pile of cob debris and human skin (primarily from my hands). Then she'd take a pile, boil it down, add assorted and sundry ingredients, chant over it or something strange, and then pour it into jars and wax seal them. I didn't think the wax was strong enough to hold the beast in its lair, but my kid wisdom wasn't appreciated then. I can't recall just what this jelly tasted like, though I think gelatinized cardboard wasn't far off the mark. I just know she only made this stuff one year, along with trying to make jelly out of pea shells, bean stems, water melon rinds, Ivory soap and paper towels. Whatever was within or inadvertently came within reach. During that two weeks at the end of summer, it might actually have been safer in Nebraska. I'll probably never know what all wound up in those jars, though my brothers and sisters were accounted for afterward. I just know that when we moved from Iowa to Colorado, not a jar of corncob jelly accompanied us. It may still be on the loose out there, doing whatever it is corn cob jelly does.

Mike B.


 

I'm enclosing a picture of me, my sister and dad at the Sunday Weekly Cobfest, circa 1956. Mother is conspicuously absent, her cob untouched.

Notice Father's proud paternal smile, as he's poised to dip his ear into a jar of peanut butter and break out into an impromptu Eddie Fisher impression with a Wonder Bread microphone.

Now, understand why Mother did not want to be associated with such a culinary aberration, and why my sister and I are clutching our cobs in a mix of defensive readiness and terrified 'amaizement'.

Best, Elwin.


My daughter and I are popcorn mavens. We love the stuff. We've even invented the 'popcorn game' to amuse ourselves while we enjoy our favorite snack. It goes thusly: Even though we aren't rich and famous like some people, we have a distinct advantage over more than a few famous names in history; those who never got to eat popcorn. Alexander the Great? Sure, he conquered the known world. But he never got to eat popcorn. Cleopatra? A rich and much sought-after queen. But she never got to eat popcorn, so her life couldn't have been complete. King Solomon? How wise can a guy be if he doesn't know about popcorn? You get the idea. Mix that kind of conversation in with crunching those hot buttery kernels and dropping luscious white bits of popcorn down your shirt, and you've got the start to a great evening.

Dave Walter


Cornfields, it turns out, are dangerous places. In Iowa alone there are over sixty corn-related car accidents each year. It seems that when the corn gets as high as an elephant's eye - sorry, that's Oklahoma I'm thinking of - I mean, when it gets tall it blocks the driver's view, causing them to mistake the cornfield for the state fair so they start playing bumper cars. Of course it could be that they just turned a little too much of their crop into corn liquor.

Mad Dog


I don't know anything too exciting about corn, but in Maryland we have a seasoning called Old Bay ... it's what you cook crabs and shrimp in and anything else you want to add zip to. It is also wonderful on corn ... steamed, grilled or roasted! Just mix softened butter with enough Old Bay to taste and smear it on. Oh yeah!

Beez


I grew up a beach bum on the Jersey Shore. You know, boardwalks, Bruce, bikinis, the works. Used to play a ton of beach volleyball back in the days before giant inflatable beer cans were de rigueur accompaniments at "professional" tournaments. One of my most indelible memories of those games was the food and beer. This one dude used to line a trash can with a plastic bag, fill it with ice water and then bury whole unshucked ears of corn in the can overnight. Next day at the beach, somebody would light a fire in a sand pit and what you'd do is see ... You'd grab a soaking wet ear and toss it on the iron grill they had suspended over the pit. Ten or 15 minutes later, you're peeling back the burnt husks and the singed silk and you're chewing on some of the most tender morsels God ever created. Brush on a little melted butter, maybe sprinkle on a little seasoned salt and some cayenne and it was heaven city, baby.

Bob

P.S. I also walked through the same head high corn that the Union Army marched through at Antietam on 17-Sep-1862 but that's another story.


The best way to eat corn is to wheel your barbecue out into the field and bend over the stalks onto the grill, cooking them while they're still alive.

MD


This is true, MD. Scientifically speaking, as soon as the ear is separated from the stalk, the sugar in the corn starts to turn to starch, so cooking corn as you describe would eliminate a lot of the starch buildup and make for sweeter corn. Or, as my mom used to say, better not trip on the way back from the cornfield, or it'll all turn to chicken feed.

Dave


Thank you MD for actually making me feel bad about eating my favorite vegetable now. I usually have this reaction after visiting a dairy farm, and refuse to eat hamburger for a week. But now I can't eat corn for a while. . . . "while they're still alive." Jeez!

Erik


I hate to spoil your favorite cobbler, Erik, but your taste buds are sincerely lacking in a major experience until you've wandered into an orchard and bitten into a ripe peach that's alive and still growing on the tree.

MD


Not only have I chomped peaches off the tree, I've munched grapes from the vine, gnawed cabbage as I cut 'em and sampled a turnip or two after pulling 'em from the ground and sat on my shell bucket and masticated peanuts while waiting on dove to fly over. Amongst other things.

Ben


After working in a Toddler classroom for two years I associate corn with diapers. Need I be more explicit?

Julie


We have corn about once a week. Just plain old basic corn (frozen or canned) as a side dish because it is one of the few vegetables my daughter likes. When it is corn season around here in Canada, (in August), we love fresh corn on the cob and eat it every night! We go out and buy it straight from a farmer. My daughter absolutely adores cornbread as do I and we have it pretty frequently too. She is a purist and has hers plain but I like mine with butter, salt, and fresh cracked pepper on it. If I can get it down south with cracklins in it ... yum! But Canadians don't know what cracklins are. My favourite family recipe using corn is for my grandma's fried corn meal mush. My mom and grandma used to make this all time when I was little and I loved watching them work together, mixing and cooking, talking and bonding as they worked. It seemed like a magical time - the two of them work away to create something for us to eat out of such simple ingredients - I would sit in the background and watch and LISTEN. They would get so absorbed in their work that they would forget I was there and the conversations would start first with small talk about us kids but then lead into more in-depth talks about the rest of the family. This was where I learned that they were worried that Uncle Henry hid a bottle of whiskey in his garage (so that's why he spent so much time working on his car). It was where I learned that I had two great grandpas who fought in the Civil War - on opposite sides and that another was disowned for fighting for the north in the Civil War. It was also where I learned that the depth of the love and relationship between my mom and my grandma, where I learned that my grandpa wouldn't "let go" and die until he got to hug each of us grandkids one last time because he adored us, where I learned that family sticks together through the good and the bad. You know, back then I couldn't even stand the taste of fried mush. But the family history, the love, the bond that went into making it made it one of my favourite family dishes ... and the taste has even grown on me now! Despite the fact that my daughter won't eat it, she helps me make it. I tell her stories about my family as we do - we laugh and cry just like my mom and grandma used to do - we pass along a rich, vibrant family history in the simple act of stirring the ingredients together.

Cyndi


Okay, here's my corn story about dear old Aunt Bet (that's pronounced Ain't Bet for you Yankees J She is the one that likes to eat beans and make "music" with the effects. Well, anyway, we were at the lake one weekend, and Aunt Bet got a hankerin' for some corn. But it couldn't be just ANY corn, it had to be fresh grown corn -- which meant we would have to pick it. Thing was, we didn't have a garden. Well, Aunt Bet's brother (Junior) and his wife lived about 10 minutes away, and she remembered they were out of town for the weekend. Junior had a huge garden, including about a half-acre of corn. So we drove over there, and picked a good couple of bushels full. All the while we were hurrying, because Junior's next-door neighbor was a snoop and wasn't afraid of running garden thieves off with his shotgun. Anyway, that was the best corn! Aunt Bet always said stolen corn just tasted better. The next week when Junior got home, he called Bet and told her that someone had stolen a whole mess of his good white corn. She replied, "You don't say? Honestly, you just can't trust people at all nowadays!"

Yes, I make my own corn bread, and it's GOOD. I use my Mama Grace's recipe (my mom's mom). The key to it is you don't use ANY eggs. Just self-rising cornmeal mix (preferably Aunt Jemima), buttermilk, and hot oil.

Donalyn


I fry cornbread (cornbread & milk - yum!), and instead of muffins or pones I drop by the batter by spoonfuls in a little oil, flatten, cook it quick. Not quite a hushpuppy, but similar. Crumble in a glass, add milk. once when I was about four, we visited my grandmother at the family plantation. Now she had one of those big old houses with a dog trot and detached kitchen, the house was built up so you had about 6 - 8 tall steps and either four or five chimneys. There was a smokehouse, barns, hay house, firewood shed and several corn cribs. Around the house itself was a wooden fence. Now there was a mean old rooster. Just loved to peck you. So one day I was out near the corn shed and the rooster chased me to a stump. Eventually I managed to make it to the corn shed, where I could shut the door. Ever tried sitting in cornhusks for a long period of time. You sure get covered in dust & get the itchies. I do remember several of my cousins smoking corn husks behind one of the barns. And corn liquor. Now rumor is it was the source of income for one of my uncles, by marriage. Still today, we find empty bottles in the woods. In the country today, it's still popular to plant an acre of corn for the deer, than put your deer house just over the edge of the field.

Alice


We are not huge corn eaters. I think it's because I spent to many hot summers shucking it at the farm. The husk always cut my hand and I couldn't stand it when a worm crawled out on me. It was even more gross when I stuck my finger in one of those black rotten spots. Yuck! I do remember thinking my dad had lost his mind when we went trout fishing and he opened the can of corn for bait. This was after he cut his hand using a knife to open the can because we forgot the can opener. Who takes a can opener fishing anyway? Occasionally we will eat corn on the cob but I promise you it's from the freezer and I'm not doing the shucking!!!!

Rhonda


I don't care how many times you chew it, corn re-forms in your stomach and when you "process" it, it comes out whole kernels! Cornbread is nasty...period. It has the consistency of sand. I love eating corn on the cob (Silver Queen is the best) dripping with butter and some seasoned salt. It is all the more better when you get it all over your face.

Traci


The secret to mixing and good risin' cornbread is to add "warm" to "hot" water to the mixture ... after the milk. I never measure anything - I just throw it in a bowl and mix. I bake it in an ole' iron skillet with butter and oil mixture, then throw it in the oven till nice and brown, I like my cornbread to have a really crunchy crust.

Tammy


My favorite corn dish is spoonbread, but don't make it often, cuz it takes so long, and I always want it NOW! I make corn muffins all the time. I put sugar in my cornbread, and Granny, born and raised in Birmingham, AL, says that isn't technically cornbread, but rather Johnnycake. I lived in the south 3 years and never ate grit one! My husband lives for sweet corn season, which is mid August up here in Buffalo. Our favorite is the bread and butter corn, which has white and yellow kernels on the same ear. We could have corn on the cob 3 nights a week and he'd be happy. A good summer dinner for me is corn, cukes and sliced tomatoes. They grow lots of corn in Nigeria, and you see people roasting or boiling it on the street corners to sell to passersby. Sort of like the African version of the hotdog stand. You also see huge piles of the shucks everywhere, due to their relaxed sense of public sanitation, and quite frequently, there will be chickens and goats feeding on the piles. Their corn is shorter and fatter ears than ours, a lot chewier, and nowhere near as sweet. But it was good.

Hey did you know that in Europe they call most grains corn? And they call our corn maize, and it is a new world veggie, shared by the Native Americans. It is one of their 3 cultural foods, corn, beans and squash, called the Three Sisters, and highly revered.

I was just cooking supper and thought of some truly awful corn puns (or was that cornpones?) you could use. Hominy do you want to hear? Your story on corn is sure to have your readers grinning from ear to ear! I know I said I have a corny sense of humor, and they say you are what you eat, so there must be a grain of truth to it. Oh shucks, that reminds me of another one. There was this guy who used to come and hang around whenever I was making cornbread. It was kind of spooky, I almost had to get a restraining order against him. Guess you could say he was a corn stalker. Well, that should help you get down to the nitty-gritty.

OK, and here is a terrible corn joke from my son. When I was a kid, we wuz so poor, that when we would ask what's fer dinner, Momma would put her foot up on the table and say, Corn! Well, if you didn't like that, I got some tortilla jokes that will knock you flat! Ba-dum-bum.

Lou


Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the term "corn" referred to any plant that produced grain-like seeds, such as wheat or barley. It wasn't until the colonization of the New World, and the discovery by the settlers of what was called generally by the natives "maize," that corn took on its now familiar meaning. If you do a little research, you'll find many references to corn in Medieval texts. This can be confusing (since what we call corn is exclusively New World) if you don't know a little about the word's etymology. Class dismissed.

Robert F.


We used to produce really small ears of corn until we got chickens. Chicken manure is the best thang to use for fertilizin' corn. We had a bunch corn cobs left over. Mama would burn em up in the cook stove when she would bake, we'd also used em in the outhouse when the Sears and Roebuck catalog would run out.

Daddy


When I was about 8 or 9, I remember asking Mama what made her cornbread crust so good. She said it was the browned corn. I misunderstood and thought she said, "Brown Corn" so I spent a goodly part of the day picking rotten ears of corn from the corn crib and then shelling the brown corn for Mama to make her good cornbread crust with.

Aunt Wanda


My grandmother had a broom made of corn shucks. It made the floors nice and white.

Genevieve


In the sixties me and my friends would sometimes raid a field of young hog corn, cover a tabletop with butter, drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of corn.

JonRobb


Thanks to my Net Wit buddies, family, and my email loopies! ~Angela


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