Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Putting Up (with) the Corn

Nora tried to convince me it was day by opening the blinds in my mom's hibernation-dark guest room.
"I don't think it's time to get out of bed yet, Nora."  I know it is.  Nora has been singing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider Song" for at least 2 hours now.  I've been pretending it's all a beautiful dream.
"Yes, it is.  The sun is up.  Look."
I'm nearly blinded.
"AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!  Shut the drapes!  No, I'm sure it's still night time.  It feels like night time."
"Get up, Mommy.  It's time to get up."

I stumble out of the cave with one hand over my eyes and another feeling around to see how my hair did last night.  Not good.  I haven't had bangs this tall since the 80's.

"What time is it?" I ask my mom who has already had a cup of coffee.  I can tell because she's smiling.  I'm not smiling.

"We need to get started on that corn.  It's about to get hot out there."  Mom has definitely had a cup of coffee.  She's talking about work already.

I don't even have time to stop myself before I'm talking out loud.  "Okay.  Let me get my bra."  Now, this might be more information than anyone really needs, but this is real life, and all women know that before you do just about anything, you make sure you have a bra on.  That's all I'm saying.

I come out within 30 seconds with a red sweatband around my head singing the theme from Rocky and making corn shucking gestures.  "Let's do this."  Little did I know that six hours later, Mom and I would be sitting on the couch in a corn processing stupor unable to relate to each other in complete sentences.

"That was.  [cough/burp]."
"Did you just cough and burp at the same time?  Is that even possible?  What is happening to us, Mom?"
"Don't speak.  Too challenging.  Feet hurt.  Hate corn."

So what could have driven two demure, polite, gentle women to this point?  Let me show you:

1.  First, there was the corn.  We sat on the deck shucking for about an hour and a half.  It was lovely.  The coffee was kicking in.  The sun was shining through the trees, the lambency of light shimmering over the day's promise of good work.

2.  Nora would bring us pile after pile of corn.  She decided to adopt three ears, which I found tucked away in the playhouse, all three lined up on a chair.  Grandma looks up from the ear she's stripping clean.  "Who's the corn in Veggie Tales, Nora?"  "They don't have corn in Veggie Tales."  "What?!  They don't have corn?!"  (That was me.  I'm outraged.)  "Why wouldn't they have corn?"  "Too corny."  "You're funny, Mom."

3.  After the corn is cleaned up, we drag it into the kitchen and set up shop.  First you drop as many as the pot can hold into water that has reached a rolling boil.  When the corn is dropped in, it will stop boiling.  The trick is to bring it back up to a boil and then pull the corn out.  That's when it's ready.

4.  Submerge the corn in cold water.  And then drop the ears in a Gatorade cooler with ice.  Yes, it has to be Gatorade (copyright).  People have been doing it this way for centuries.

3.  The first half of the day, I used this de-corn-enator.  (For those of you familiar with Phineas and Ferb, that last statement should have been hilarious to you.)  I got it at Et. Cetera for 50 cents.  They're selling them down at the Walmart for 4 bucks.  I suppose it's worth it if you don't mind a little waste.  I mind waste, so I eventually switched to the tried and true knife method.

I was surprised Mom actually let me use a knife today.  I practically have to call her if I'm planning on using scissors out here on the farm.  "What if you cut yourself?  How will you get help?"  "Well, I'd probably go outside and write S.O.S. in my own blood in the hopes that someone passing by overhead will see me and then..."  This is when Mom will turn to Nora and say, "You're mommy is a smarty pants."  Yes.  Yes, I am.

4.  After you get the corn off the ears, you pass it on to your mom who will put four big scoops into Ziploc (copyright) bags and remind you to be careful with the knife, the boiling water, and to not try putting the Ziploc baggies over your head because...

Any of the water left over from cooling the corn, we'd take out to water all the flowers and things around Mom's place.  The whole process takes a lot of water.  I know this because we were able to water everything out there, and there's a lot out there.

5.  So, after you're done, you end up with a lot of cobs and a few bags of the most delicious sweet corn there is.   Proof:  I went to the Pac n' Save and they were selling 5 cans of corn for 2 bucks.  Now, part of me wanted to get down on my knees and weep when I saw the sign.  We ended up with 51 bags of corn.  I'd bet each bag held about 2 cans of corn.  So, we basically made 100 cans of corn.  I could have bought 100 cans of corn for...uh...wait for it.  Let me grab some paper.  40 bucks.  Mom and I saved a total of 20 dollars each today.   Where are my keys?  I'm going back to the Pac N' Save to cry in front of the giant stack of canned corn.

But, and you know this, there's nothing like Nebraska sweet corn straight from the field.  And I love messing up my mom's kitchen, so it was worth every kernel.


  1. Ah the corn season is upon us. I too am awaiting the phone call from my aunt that says the corn is ready, ship the kids off to the other grandma's for the day so we can spend the day up to our eyeballs in corn. And none of us can form words other than "hate corn," "not hungry," and "no more corn" either.

  2. I giggled my way through this whole post. Sounds like a fun (but crazy!) day! I LOVE the picture of Nora. Just look at that grin.

    You are so funny. :)

  3. So many truths in here...and so much humor. And there's something very fun about messing up Mom's kitchen. Somehow it's not as amusing when Mom comes and messes mine up, though. :P