Sunday, January 15, 2006

I'm as Corny as Kansas in August

I'm as corny as Kansas in August,
I'm as normal as blueberry pie...
(from South Pacific)

Born and bred here in Ohio, you can well imagine that I grew up with a deep and abiding love of corn: corn on the cob, cooked corn, popcorn, you name it!

(And given my offbeat family, I developed another love of corn, too, as you can probably tell from my exasperating use of word play on this site.)

But lately, my corniness has completely revolved around a rapidly-dwindling bag of locally-ground cornmeal.

Even though I love corn as a vegetable, cornmeal itself has never been very high on my list of favored grains, and I have to be in the right mood to enjoy it thoroughly. In the past week or so, though, I have definitely been in the mood.

First, I started off with a sweet potato pot pie that used cooked cornmeal to form a polenta base for the spicy lentil-tomato mix and the baked sweet potato topping. Though the entire dish was good, I often found myself eating the top two layers first and saving the well-seasoned polenta layer for last, savoring every bite.

Then yesterday morning, I decided I was really in the mood for cheese grits, one of my old Southern standbys. I'm out of grits specifically, but the cornmeal is coarse enough that it made a slightly more creamy version of this dish, thickened with some good locally-produced sharp cheddar cheese. A comforting meal on a cold morning!

And today, I finally got around to making the pot of chili I'd been wanting all week long... and how can you have chili without cornbread? So once I'd gotten the chili started and simmering, I whipped up a pan of cornbread (from the excellent basic recipe found in the original Moosewood cookbook) and a bowl of guacamole.

Hot and spicy chili, cool and creamy guacamole, and tender, tasty cornbread... what more could I want?

Well, the answer to that lies in the second line of the song quoted above, because once the song got into my head, I knew I needed to make a blueberry pie. But let's face it, none of my friends would class me as "normal," so of course my pie must be a little out of the ordinary, a small concoction made with a leftover whole wheat pie crust and local blueberries from the freezer plus a streusel topping of local oats (from the same grist mill), maple sugar, spice, and oil. Bliss!

And "if you'll excuse the expression I use," such good food always makes me "high as a flag on the Fourth of July"!


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