“You know we used to feed corn to the pigs to fatten then up, eh, Stace?”
“Sure. It is full of sugar.”
“Oh”, I said in dismay. “But it is so good.”
“It is good for you – just don’t eat as much as the pigs do.”
“Thanks, Dad”, I would respond.
This is the conversation that played over in my head as I shucked the corn my husband and I had just purchased from Farmer Brown. The trip out to the farm itself was rather nostalgic. I had made this trip at least once a day when I was growing up – as we lived past Farmer Brown’s farm and my school was in Barrie. Nothing really seemed to have changed – other than there were new street lights about to line the exit for Dalston – the exit leading off Highway 400 to Farmer Brown’s farm.
“Are you Connie?” I asked of the pleasant looking woman waiting to assist us at the corn stand beside her home.
“Yes.”, she answered.
“I’m Stacey. Paula Duff’s daughter.”
“Oh, Stacey. I’m so sorry I’ve never connected with you since your Mom passed away. She was a wonderful woman.”
“Connie,” I began, “Mom used to freeze your corn and it tasted absolutely wonderful. I never watched her freeze it as a young person and now I absolutely regret it. Her corn was the best in the world. You don’t happen to know how she did it, do you?”
“I gave her the recipe. Would you like it?”
My heart leaped as though that recipe was going to lead me back to Mom. “Yes! I’d love it, thank-you. And I’ll take two dozen corn while we are at it.”
“Yellow corn, or peaches and cream?” Connie inquired.
My answer was obvious. Dad was one of the first farmers in Simcoe County to grow peaches and cream corn. He was always so proud of it – he had planted it in the front yard of our country home. Corn brought nutrients to the soil that would eventually allow grass to grow in the sandy soil that existed throughout the farm. I remember he had a staff party at the farm once, and he had promised his staff a corn roast. He and I went out to pick the corn the afternoon of his party. We’d examine a cob on the stalk and if it was “perfect” we’d pluck it off and holler out a count. He would take the first cob, “one”. I’d take the next, “two”. That way we’d know how many we had both picked to keep track of our harvest. Almost at the count of 20 it began to rain. We didn’t care. We kept on plucking the corn.
“25”, I shouted through the rain.
Dad responded, “26, 27”.
And on we went until we counted nearly 200 cobs. He wanted to make sure everyone was able to feast on this very unique, very special corn.
That afternoon, the rain cleared, the guests arrived. The driveway looked like a parking lot. There must have been 50 people or more all feasting on the corn that Dad grew in our front yard. It was fantastic corn – Dad received rave reviews. It was not too long before the body builder came out and songs were sung – adults slid down my very own little kids slide (the one that used to usher us into the pond that Dad built). Fun was had by all. I think at least until the next morning when a few of Dad’s staff experienced the body – builder head-ache.
And then my thoughts caught up with my hands. I finished shucking eight cobs and put the water on the stove to boil. Mom always said, “Don’t cook the corn too long – only five minutes.” She religiously put on her egg timer so that the corn was sure to cook for ONLY as much time as necessary to cook to perfection. “Don’t overcook the corn. You’ll spoil it.”, Mom said.
“I know Mom.” I remember saying while rolling my eyes as a kid.
I don’t have an egg timer – but I will use the electronic timer. And the corn will not go in the pot until everyone is ready to eat.
Ben arrived home from life-guarding moments ago. “Ben”, I announced. “I have fresh corn from Farmer Brown’s.”, expecting him to understand the significance of my statement.
“Oh, I’m not hungry, Mom.” Sigh. Oh, well. And Ben continued, “.. and don’t they feed corn to pigs to fatten them up?”
Oh good grief.