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An end-of-fall roundup on corn

Soon, I’m going to have to admit that winter is here. NOT YET, though.

Before that happens, I want to do an end-of-the-year roundup on some of the fun corn recipes and comments from earlier in the year.

When I had shared a chicken-corn soup recipe as part of an Ask Joan answer, Joyce Moul wrote in response and mentioned adding corn syrup or honey to the soup.

Jo wasn’t biting on that one! She says, “To each his own – but I never heard of putting a sweetner of any kind in chicken corn soup and really do not understand the need for one. I only make chicken corn soup when I can bring home just-picked white corn and make the soup right away. Fresh corn is sweet right off the cob. I know some people cook corn in what I think are strange ways, including adding milk and/or sugar in the water. I grew up like another correspondent did – the water is boiling in the pot while the corn is being picked.”

Jo is not one to skip one of her favorite corn dishes during the winter. She says, “Before the corn season ends I buy the chicken and the corn the same day (at market), go home and make my soup – enough to freeze in small containers for the winter. There’s nothing more warming and satisfying on a cold January day than a hot bowl of chicken corn soup. I sometimes borrow some of the chicken broth (broth, Joan, not juice!) and freeze it in small containers. On the cold wintry days I don’t feel like eating much I heat a container of broth in a small sauce pan, and dribble a beaten egg into it, then I add a dab of sesame oil & soy sauce for a quick cup of egg drop soup.”

Jim Fahringer wrote about another favorite of Jo’s – and mine! – cornmeal mush!

He says, “Talking about corn meal mush, my grandmother often made it and poured it into those metal loaf pans to allow it to stiffen. She would then slice it and fry it in a skillet with some bacon fat. She would then pour that delicious King Syrup on it from the big old red and yellow can with the lion’s head on the front.”

Jim adds, “I personally liked corn meal mush made like oatmeal. You would simply add the cornmeal to water and boil until it thickened. You would then put sugar or brown sugar in it and add milk just like you do to oatmeal. … My first year of teaching we were studying a unit on American Indians and I found out that none of my students ever ate cornmeal mush. So, I decided to make mush for them. I entered the school’s kitchen and placed the largest cast aluminum kettle I could find on top of the gas stove. The kettle was almost three feet high. I filled it three quarters full with water. I did not know how much cornmeal I needed. I always like to prepare more than needed rather than not having enough, so I purchased 15 pounds of cornmeal to make sure I had enough. I never took a scientific course on the qualities of expansion but I was about to learn.”

I bet you can see where this is going, right? Jim continues, “First I dumped the five pound bag of cornmeal into the boiling water. I watched and I began to become frightened because the mixture was not getting thick. I thought to myself, ‘I better put another five pound bag of cornmeal into the kettle.’ So I dumped the second five pound bag of cornmeal into the boiling water. As impatient as I am, I decided it still wasn’t getting thick enough so I dumped my last five pound bag of cornmeal into the kettle. Was I ever sorry! The cornmeal began to expand several times its volume and now the cornmeal mush was erupting out of the top of the kettle just like a volcanic. The cornmeal mush oozed down the sides of the kettle and onto the gas stove. It eventually put out the gas flame. That day I learned that a little dab of cornmeal will do ya.”

That’s what the RIGHT proportions of cornmeal will make you, seen in a photo Jo took of one of her finished products. Jim, I bet your mush from that day on was MUCH more carefully proportioned!

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