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Kirk's Traveling Kitchen News and Blog


237 Ears of Free Sweet Corn.

As the summer harvest comes rushing in, it's not just tomato and zucchini plants that produce fruit at a rate that makes it difficult to keep up. Most amateur growers have experienced the joy and stress of one or all of their plantings ripening at just about the same time. The joy comes with the knowledge that you must have done something right to have such a bountiful garden, the stress follows shortly after with the question "what the hell am I going to do with 20 pounds of eggplant?" In rural America most small farmers deal with the same issues, just multiplied.

This past week I ran into Lee and Laurie Arboreal (Eater's Guild Farm in Bangor, Michigan), who I've been buying produce from in Michigan for the last few summers, at the local coffee shop. They greeted me with the seemingly harmless question "want some sweet corn?" Having recently returned from the Saugatuck farmer's market they were loaded-down with their delicious organic sweet corn (not an easy trick, as even corn that's encrusted with every chemical known to man can be littered with worms) and I was the last option before they threw enough corn to their ducks to produce some nice lobes of foie gras. So not as a stand against fattened duck liver, for I love the stuff, but rather because any food-loving person has a difficult time saying no when offered great ingredients for free, I agreed to take four-plus cases of corn off their hands. It was only as I was driving away, my little hatch-back riding low because of a hundred pounds of maize, did I confront that age-old question "what the hell am I going to do with all this corn?"

Hours later, just as I was beginning to think investing in some ducks would be better than shucking all that corn, I had the eureka moment of turning all of that corn into a small token of thanks for my clients. Something I could leave behind to say thanks for using the Traveling Kitchen, appreciation for allowing me to make a living doing what I love: COOK. Some ginger, many dozen mason jars, ground coriander, and a bushel of green tomatoes later I had every space of the kitchen littered with my creation: Organic Sweet Corn Chutney with Ginger, Green Tomato & Coriander. Then, as I was feeling satisfied, reveling in what I felt was a major accomplishment, even though spending all day and most of the night of one of my few free days working on this rather than the myriad things I needed to do for my fledgling company is not exactly accomplishing, a new question came to me. Probably the same question cooks who work with seasonal goods, who are passionate about preserving the ingredients that they love while they're at their best, have been forced to answer for generations: "Where the hell am I going to put...".

Here's a good recipe for sweet corn. Try to purchase your corn from local farmer's markets or farmstands where the corn has seen little or no refrigeration, it'll be much sweeter.

Dairyless "Creamed" Corn Soup serves 6
This soup takes advantage of the natural milk in really fresh sweet corn. By pureeing the soup while warm it will have a delightfully creamy texture, without the fat and calories of cream or milk.

Sweet Corn, shucked and removed from the cob 4 Cups (about 3 ears of corn)
Sweet Onion, minced 1 Medium
Garlic, minced 1 Tablespoon
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tablespoons
Chicken Stock, preferably homemade 6 Cups
Kosher Salt and Fresh White Pepper as needed

To Serve:
Cherry Tomatoes, halved 1 Cup
Fresh Basil, chiffonade 1 Tablespoon
Avocado, peeled, pitted and diced 1 ripe
Sea Salt to taste
Good Olive Oil to drizzle to taste
Smoked Paprika (Pimenton de la Vera), optional pinch

In a medium pot, sweat garlic and onions in olive oil over low flame until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add corn, cook until aromatic five minutes or so, add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, remove from flame and let cool. While still warm, carefully puree in blender, leave slightly chunky. Return to pot and season to taste. Serve in warm bowls garnished with tomatoes, basil, avocado, salt, smoked paprika and drizzled with oil.