008: Food of the Gods
I’m from Iowa; corn isn’t just a vegetable, it’s a religion. Actually, corn isn’t a vegetable at all, it’s a grain. But don’t tell that to the New York State Legislature, who passed a bill calling sweet corn the official State Vegetable. This is just stupid, squared. Yes, you can call it a vegetable, but the New York State Legislature? This like calling Rachel Ray a chef. You might watch her prepare food on television, but really, deep down, you know she’d spontaneously combust in a commercial kitchen.
And, who the hell are they to call it their official State Vegetable? It’s Nebraska that calls itself the ‘Cornhusker State.’ I don’t think so. You can both just eat this: Iowa produces more corn than anywhere else on the planet. Go Hawkeyes. I do remember being out in the corn fields on hot, muggy summer days, and you could literally hear the corn grow.
Corn originated as a tall grass growing on the slopes of the Andes. However, Pueblo Elders take its origin straight back to the beginning of time; they say that in the beginning, when people were just about ready to step upon Mother Earth, their Creator gave them one last gift – corn. Even so, cultivated forms of the Andes grass spread throughout all the Americas in pre-Columbian times. Ears on this corn were only an inch or two long. It would take another 600 years before corn had developed enough to be served at the state fair.
Hopi legend has it that the First People understood that the earth was a living, breathing entity, like themselves. The corn plant was also a living entity, with a body similar to man’s in many respects, and the people built its flesh into their own. Hence, corn was also their mother. Thus, they knew their mother in two aspects which were often synonymous; as Mother Earth, and the Corn Mother.
A little closer to home, the Chippewa legend of Mandamin is known as the spirit of corn. The Ojibway always portray him as a male. His name is pronounced mun-dah-min, and literally means “Corn.” For those of you actually paying attention, there is no difference between ‘Chippewa’ and ‘Ojibway,’ they both refer to the same people. In Canada, ‘Ojibway is more commonly used.
Goddesses of corn appear in almost every indigenous people’s folklore; The Aztec had Chicmecatl, Maya had the Tonsured Maize Goddess, Cherokee had Goddess Selu, Yellow Woman, and Corn Mother Goddess Iyatiku. And, right here, we have Michele Bachmann, Patron Goddess of Corn Dogs. The reason corn deities are (almost) all women, is because they represent fertility.
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|Yeah yeah, we’ve all heard about the Sever’s Corn Maze down in Shakopee, but have you been there? It’s a total trip! Different every year, it’s billed as “family” fun, but fuggedabout the kidz and hightail it down there with your cronies–finding a way out will drive them absolutely nuts. (Last one out buys everyone a beer?)
Sever Peterson and his wife Sharon have been doing this for 14 years, so they must be doing something right. And yes, your little rugrats WILL enjoy everything from the Straw Bale Maze to exotic animals, a giant potato sack slide and even a giant Corn Pool with 10,000 bushels of the stuff to leap into. Nope, this isn’t an ad–they don’t even know we’re mentioning this–that’s just how much we like this goofy place.
(continued from above)
“Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn”
There are more than 500 different by-products obtained from corn; from flour, to bio-fuel, to synthetic rubber, to explosives, to moonshine, to crop circles and, finally, to soup. So…
Iowa Corn Soup
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 whole white onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2-pounds corn kernels*
2 cups rich chicken stock**
3 cups heavy cream
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup slivered chives to garnish
Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but before it begins to smoke, about 350-degrees, add the onions and garlic, and stir to mix well. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to minimum, and continue cooking another 3 minutes.
Add the corn, and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, and turn the heat to high. When the stock begins to simmer (not boil), add the heavy cream. Cook, stirring frequently, until the coup begins to simmer, about 5 minutes.
Carefully ladle half of the soup into a food processor. Using a pulse action, process the soup until smooth. Pour the processed soup back into the saucepan, and stir to mix well. Cook the soup over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer, (don’t make me say ‘boil’ again!) Reduce heat to low, if you need to hold it, or, duh, serve immediately. Garnish with fresh chives.
Note; if the sauce is too thick, add more chicken stock; too thin, more cream
*Corn Kernels: fresh is best, frozen is good. If you use canned corn, well, you’ve got no business being in
**Rich Chicken Stock: I’m guessing you’re not making your own chicken stock. You can reduce a homemade stock, and the flavor intensify as the volume lessens. Use a boxed or canned broth, they’re passable. DO NOT use those bouillon cubes, they’re just flavored salt.
So, has anyone noticed how crappy those boxes of frozen corn dogs have become? Walk right by that freezer case and make your own:
Iowa “Big Boy” Corn Dogs
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup polenta
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups water
1 large egg
Hot Dogs (All beef, Kosher, turkey dogs, whatever. Just keep away from that ugly stuff.)
In a large mixing bowl, blend all the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, add the buttermilk, water, and egg, and whisk until frothy. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (this allows the batter to tighten up and thicken).
To prepare the corn dog, warm the hot dog through in hot water, then pat dry. Insert a wooden skewer, and coat evenly with the batter. Hold onto the skewer, and dip the corn dog into hot (350-375 degree) oil; peanut oil is good, lard is best…I told you, the flavor is in the fat.
Once the batter has set, drop the entire corn dog into the fryer, and cook until golden brown, about e 3 – 5 minutes, depending on your preference.
Batter will keep, refrigerated, for up to three days…or make a bunch of Iowa Boys ahead of time and freeze.