July 28, 2016

Dear friends,

I miss Ohio corn season. I miss the fun of buying a hot, buttered ear at Szalay’s, of rushing to Graf Growers on opening day before the first picking is gone, and the camaraderie of the group shuck at Seiberling’s. But Idaho corn ain’t bad.

God knows where — or if — it is grown here, because all I’ve seen on the drive from Colorado to Lava Hot Springs are acres and acres and acres of potato plants and wheat. The fields stretch to the horizon.

Still, the ears Tony and I bought last week in a little supermarket were fat and tender. No one but me was rushing to buy it, though, and I haven’t seen a single roadside stand in Colorado, Idaho, or — this week — Montana or Wyoming.

Maybe the Idahoans save their enthusiasm for potatoes, which are indeed delicious here. The russets we bought taste so fresh, with a tender skin I’ve rarely seen on this type of bagged spud.

But potatoes aren’t corn, not by a long shot. I miss my fellow Ohio corn lovers. We know how to celebrate summer, and it isn’t by tossing a tater in microwave.

For the first week when I get back home, I plan to eat corn on the cop every day — plain, steamed corn. Then I’ll branch out to grilled steaks with roasted corn salsa, fresh corn souffe, corn chowder and corn fritters.

One of my favorite corn recipes sounds fancy but is easy to make. Stir up some pancake batter and add corn. Grill some shrimp. Mash a bit of goat cheese with a canned chipotle pepper. Fry the corn batter and put everything together. It’s summer on a plate.

Corn Fritters With Grilled Shrimp and Chipotle Chevre
Serves 4 as an appetizer

4 ounces chevre (French-style goat cheese), softened
1/2 of a canned chipotle pepper, minced
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
oil
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup milk
3 ears of corn (about 2 cups kernels)
2 egg whites
8 large raw shrimp, peeled
In a small bowl, combine cheese and chipotle pepper and mix well; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, cayenne and cumin; stir well. Add 2 teaspoons oil, egg yolk and milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Peel corn and place an ear on end in a bowl. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob. Repeat with remaining ears. You should have about 2 cups kernels. Stir the kernels into the batter.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold gently but thoroughly into the corn batter.

Heat about 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. For each fritter, drop two rounded tablespoons of batter into skillet, spreading the mixture into a 3-inch disk with the spoon. Cook over medium-high heat until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.

Skewer the shrimp, two per skewer, and grill or pan-grill just until tender. Place one or two fritters on each of four salad-size plates. Top each with a skewer of shrimp and a dollop of the chèvre mixture.

Makes four appetizer servings.

TIDBITS

Darn it, we’ll miss the Montana State Fair, which runs through Sunday in Great Falls. We are traveling in the opposite direction. I had hoped to sample some of these midway snacks:

* Lefse (potato flatbread) at the Sons of Norway booth
* Walleye on a stick
* Foot-long (!) corn dogs
* Bacon-beef sundaes
* Deep-fried licorice
THE MAILBAG

From Marty LaConte:
We have our chef’s aprons on for another amazing dinner cooked by Boy Scout Troop 334 in Green at Queen of Heaven Church. On Aug. 13 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. we will be serving an authentic Carolina slow-smoked barbecue.Two of our Scout dads have large commercial sized smokers and they will be camping out the night before in order to get the pork roasts started in the wee hours of the morning. Then at 5 p.m. the public is invited to dig in.

We will have pulled pork roasted with a dry rub and three traditional sauces on the side (red, mustard and vinegar). The dinner will consist of smoked pulled pork, leg-thigh quarter chicken, smoked pork and beans, mac and cheese and cornbread.

We will be cooking for 600 but when it’s gone, it’s gone. The costs will be $10 for adults, $7 for children and $7 for all-sides dinner. The dinner is being held in conjunction with a church celebration with a car raffle, kids’ games and Iive music. It should be a great time so come hungry, bring Tony (but there won’t be any hot dogs) and maybe you’ll win a car.

Dear Marty: Tony and I will be there and, as good as it sounds, so will half of Akron. We’ll come early before the pig is gone.

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