I jumped out of bed Saturday, fully alert. It was corn day. I had waited all year. Seiberling Corn Farm in Norton would open at 9 a.m. for the season.
At 9:40 I snagged the last parking spot in front of the farm house. A slew of people already were digging through a pile of corn under a canopy. When an an older guy on a tractor putted up with another load, I wanted to hug him. I resisted.
To me, fresh corn on the cob is the essence of summer. It would be on my bucket-list last meal. I love it so much that I think I talked Northeast Ohio into making it the symbol of summer, too. A new managing editor imported from Miami once expressed surprise that my “corn is here” story appeared on the newspaper’s front page. On reflection, he decided that in Ohio, the opening of corn season probably was big news.
No. In all modesty, I think I made it big news by writing so enthusiastically about corn year after year after year. I wrote about Szalay’s vs. Graf vs. Rufener’s. I gave ridiculously detailed directions for cooking it in the microwave, on the grill, and in boiling water. One year I set up a pan of boiling water on a camp stove in the middle of a corn field and cooked an ear seconds after picking, then judged it against ears picked an hour, two hours and four hours earlier, some refrigerated and some not.
Sure, everybody around here already liked corn. But I was nuts about it, and I think my mania rubbed off.
I’m still nuts about it, and was distraught when the wet weather impacted planting last spring. Would there be corn?
I actually was happy when Szalay’s and Graf started bringing in corn from central and southern Ohio to keep the corn-hungry hordes at bay. In past years I disdained the out-of-town stuff. Then on Saturday, the real thing arrived.
Although there are only two of us, I got caught up in the corn-shucking frenzy at Seiberling’s. I stripped a dozen ears naked and, back in the car, dug one out of the bag and took a huge bite, typewriter style. I looked up, cob still to my lips, and locked eyes with an elderly woman. She gave me a thumbs up.
I found this recipe for corn salad in the “Food 52 Cookbook, Volume 2.” The original uses pancetta, cilantro and more olive oil than mine, which allowed the onions to be cooked longer. I sacrificed complete caramelization for calories, cutting the olive oil in half.
The beauty of the salad is the onions, which sweeten and also take on a bit of tartness from the vinegar, forming a built-in dressing for the corn. It is one of the best corn salads I’ve tasted. There’s no reason the salad couldn’t be served warm as a side dish, either.
And of course, you could forego the salad altogether and eat your corn raw, out of hand, in the car.
Fry the bacon in a large, heavy skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels. Pour off and reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Sauté the corn kernels in the skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and turning, for 1 minute. Transfer corn to a serving bowl.
Return skillet to the burner over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat and the olive oil. Stir in onions, vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until onions are soft and beginning to caramelize. Stir onions into the corn.
Cool salad to room temperature. Stir in chopped basil, crumbled bacon and sea salt to taste. Makes 6 servings.
What I cooked last week:
Kung bao chicken, steamed rice; beet, dill and goat cheese salad; eggplant, garlic and basil salad; corn and caramelized onion salad and roast mustard-glazed pork tenderloin.
What I ate in/from restaurants:
Salad with raw tuna, edamame, cucumbers, peppers, pickled turnips and ginger and ponzu dressing from Tensuke Market in Columbus; Cobb salad from Sam’s Club; cauliflower-crust pizza with steak and mushrooms, Bud Light at Pavona’s Pizza Joint on Sand Run Road in Akron (a new place); the Laddie Burger and garlic-Parmesan Jo-Jo potatoes at Wise Guys in Akron; baba ganoush, hummus, pita bread, kibbee, marinated grilled chicken, marinated grilled beef and kefta from Mediterranean Market & Grill in Cuyahoga Falls.
Are you kidding me?? A juicy, double 3-inch-high cheeseburger that’s a contender for the best in Akron, PLUS the ultimate Jo-Jos rolled in garlic butter and dusted with Parmesan, at a fast-food price? Seriously. It’s $7 on Thursdays in the bar at Wise Guys Lounge & Grill in the North Hill area of Akron.
Kathy C. told me a year or more ago about the Thursday special. She didn’t tell me the colossal hamburger is on the menu the rest of the week at just $10 or I probably would have eaten one by now. The thing must weigh 1 pound and chef Dino Reed and his crew have the skill to cook it perfectly. If you want medium-rare, that’s what you get.
You also get real cloth napkins, soft music and upscale Rat Pack decor. I already loved this place for the beautifully prepared steaks and lamb chops at moderate prices. Now I am obsessed with it for the cheeseburger. See you Thursday.
Check out the full menu at wiseguys.us.
BYE BYE BLENDER
I can finally get rid of my bozo Hamilton Beach blender. I bought it for recipe testing. I wanted equipment most people would have, which ruled out a $450 Vitamix.
Now that I’m retired my budget rules out a Vitamix. So I was thrilled but skeptical when I found a like-new smoothie maker for $8 at a second-hand store. It turned out to be a $160 Smoothie Elite that chomps through pineapple and liquefies kale like a champ. It is a powerful machine.
I am telling you this in case you, too, get hooked on the 180-calorie detox smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe (the one near Belden Village is now open). Making them at home with a Smoothie Elite is the way to go. If you lost the recipe, it’s on my blog site at janesnowtoday.com. The search button is above my photo.
From Carol B.:
Regarding your hot pepper incident, I fixed a Pakistani chicken dish for my Dining for Women meeting last week. I had the most beautiful peppers from Kreiger’s on Graham Road in Cuyahoga Falls — plump, smooth, large, crunchy. I stupidly did not use gloves when I minced them. I woke up in the middle of the night with burning hands and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I got a gel pack from the freezer, went back to bed and wrapped my hands in it. It worked! I woke up in the morning with no stinging hands!
P.S.: If you’ve never heard of Dining for Women, check it out at diningforwomen.org. They do wonderful things to empower women around the world.
Boy, you must have gotten a hot batch of jalapeños. I never use gloves for them, although I do for peppers higher on the Scoville scale. Thank you for bringing Dining for Women to my attention. I encourage others to click on the link and check out this wonderful organization.
From Chris D.:
For some weeks there was a sign in a tiny storefront between the Indian grocery and Strickland’s on Bailey Road in Cuyahoga Falls saying “Coming soon Singh Biryani, healthy Indian carry out food.” It finally opened on July 19! I’m leaving on vacation, will visit the restaurant when I get back. I wish them success!
Thank you for the great tip. I hope to get there soon.