Memories of July 19: Ros’nears

On June 19th, I wrote about the official Juneteenth holiday. Today I’m sharing a memory that surfaces every year when June 19 comes around.

Ears of corn by mensatic via morguefile

In my corner of the world, Juneteenth marks the time corn is ripe and ready to eat.  Although most people prefer sweet corn, my family ate field corn–roasting ears, commonly pronounced ros’nears–the same kind cattle eat after it’s dried. Considering the amount we ate or froze to eat (usually sheared off the cob and served creamed) after the season ended, it’s a wonder there was any left for the cows.

My father’s uncles grew corn. When it was ready, we made a pilgrimage (or two or three . . . ) to the cornfield on Uncle Maurice’s place. Picking was an itchy job. The men usually took care of that. Shucking and removing silk was no picnic either, but everyone participated. I helped shuck (also an itchy job) and silk, but I wasn’t strong enough to chop the stem end off. More to the point, my chopping technique lacked accuracy,  so I was best occupied elsewhere.

Ears of corn by mensatic via morguefile

The variety was Yellow Dent–so-called because the kernels have “an indentation in the crown of each kernel.” Wikipedia helped me with crown; I didn’t know the word. (I use capital letters in the name because the it deserves them.)

Field corn has a heavy, musky taste; or maybe it’s musty. Neither word is correct, but they’re the best I can do. No matter–boiled, slathered with butter and covered with a sprinkling of salt, it’s delicious.

Several years ago, I mentioned Yellow Dent to some of the teacher-farmers I worked with; they’d never heard of it. I assumed that over the years it had been replaced by hybrids. A paragraph in Wikipedia corrected the assumption:

Most of the corn grown in the United States today is yellow dent corn or a closely related variety derived from it. Dent corn is the variety used in food manufacturing as the base ingredient for cornmeal flour (used in the baking of cornbread), corn chipstortillas and taco shells. Starch derived from this high-starch content variety is turned into plastics, as well as fructose which is used as a sweetener (high-fructose corn syrup) in many processed foods and soft drinks.

So Yellow Dent is still with us, serving a number of worthwhile purposes.

Its widespread use in the American diet has brought corn under scrutiny in recent years. Corn syrup is widely used as a sweetener and is an ingredient in many refined foods. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, in 2001, Americans consumed 62.6 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup. Corn is also used as cattle- and chicken feed, and is indirectly responsible for the high doses of antibiotic given to cattle. Scientific American, citing a 2008 study in which researchers analyzed meat from hamburgers and chicken sandwiches produced by three separate fast food companies in six cities across the United States, reported that “93 percent of the tissue that comprised the hamburger meat was derived from corn.” More recently, it’s been linked to the obesity epidemic.

Other sources claim that health problems arise from a diet rich in processed foods containing products derived from corn. One nutritionist says,

Ears of corn ready to eat, by Jonathunder [CC BY-SA 3.0 () or GFDL ], from Wikimedia Commons
When eaten in an unprocessed way and properly prepared, non-GMO whole corn kernels actually have some impressive nutrients to offer . . .  For example, organic corn is a vitamin C foodmagnesium-rich food, and contains certain B vitamins and potassium. It also supplies a good dose of two antioxidants linked to eye and skin health called zeaxanthin and lutein. Eating fresh corn on the cob also gives you a good amount of the daily dietary fiber you need, along with some complex carbohydrates that are a good energy source.

A friend recently remarked that ours is the last generation to eat “real food.” The corn I remember wasn’t organic, but it was real food. And it makes for happy memories.

Saints, Angels, Bananas, and Bricks

David made banana pudding.

I’d planned to make it myself. We had spotty bananas. David made a special trip to HEB for sugar, flour, cream of tartar, vanilla wafers, and other ingredients Miss Myra required.

Then I ran out of steam.

That was Friday.

Saturday the bananas were even spottier. Definitely on their way out.

I was the same, minus spots.

That’s when David said the magic words: “Shall I make banana pudding?”

Who was I to say him nay? I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

I emailed him the link to Miss Myra’s Banana Pudding recipe. He took his Chromebook to the kitchen, pulled up the web page, located the egg separator I gave him last Christmas (not dreaming he would ever have reason to use it), and got cooking.

I sat.

The result is pictured below.

After the pudding chilled awhile, David sampled and pronounced it good. He said it tasted like someone else made it.

I wanted a bite but, having feasted on the extra vanilla wafers and milk, I was in no mood to partake. Mañana.

The point I wish to make: David is a saint. An angel. A veritable paragon of virtue.

Or, as Polly Pepper would say, David is a brick.

DSCN1640
Miss Myra’s Banana Pudding, Made by David Davis, Certified Saint, on March 12, 2016

Today we take up the question, Is meringue necessary?

Chili Rellenos

When Millie invited is over for dinner, she said she would cook a chili rellenos casserole.

Oh, said I, don’t go to any trouble for us, all the while praying she would.

She did.

I helped. She asked what the difference is between Poblano and Anaheim peppers, so I set up my laptop on her kitchen table and googled.

For the record, Poblanos are hotter than Anaheims, which were bred to be mild to suit the taste of Californians around 1900.

She also made guacamole and sauteed onions and yellow squash. I make squash the same way, but hers tastes good.

Everything tasted good. (I know commenting on the quality of the food one is served violates the rules of etiquette, but bloggers are exempt from that rule as well as from several others.)

Millie shared the chili rellenos recipe, but I doubt I’ll ever recreate tonight’s experience. There’s something–a je ne sais quoi, if Millie had served crepes–about a home cooked meal–cooked in someone else’s home–that restaurant fare can’t duplicate.

I could go on and on, but the movie is about to begin. They’re hollering for me to bring the bowl of fresh cherries I’m hogging to the living room. They said I have to share.