Best of the Best: A-maize-ing corn

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Cathy Best

Cathy Best

By Cathy Best

According to the USDA’s 2013 report, issued in late June, it’s estimated U.S. farmers planted a record 97.4 million acres of corn this year; a record held since 1936. Corn stands firmly in the number one spot, out of all row crops, for most acres planted. The National Corn Growers Association reports the U.S. leads the world in corn production, growing 32 percent of all corn on the globe. 10.8 billion bushels were harvested in 2012 at a value of $79.8 billion. Those numbers make quite an impact on the nation’s pocketbooks and wallets. I know. I’m preaching to the choir, of farmers and commodities brokers, on this one. Bear with me, I’ll leave you with a savory kernel.

“There are currently more than 4,200 uses for corn– and that number continues to grow.” On average, each American consumes 25 lbs. of kernels annually. Yes, we do. Some of us can eat that much popcorn in the theater; let’s leave butter out of this. We ingest corn on the cob, kernels, popcorn, starches, sweeteners, cereals, oil, beverage alcohol, flour, grits, meal, and more. That 25 lbs. does not include non-ingestible corn products we consume, like “animal feed, industrial alcohol, ethanol, drywall, carpeting, fireworks, adhesives, antibiotics, textiles, soaps, dyes, rubber tires, fiberglass, sandpaper, plastics, paints, candles, cosmetics, and crayons.”

Now you know the 3-year-old’s shiny, waxy, colored smiles while they attempt to color inside the lines. I’d eat a crayon too; I love corn. Any way you prepare it, I’ll eat it. Like a, vine ripe, summer tomato, it doesn’t get much better than fresh-picked sweet corn. Here’s that savory kernel I promised, Fresh Sweet Corn Salad. I stumbled on this recipe with ingredients I had on hand, although there are similar one’s out there. It’s a colorful, protein-filled, salad that is more than satisfying for lunch, and is pretty on the plate with grilled pork and chicken at dinner. Serve it cold or at room temperature; pack it for work, picnics and gatherings.

Fresh Sweet Corn Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Two 15 oz. cans of Bush’s Black Beans, drained and rinsed

2 fresh ears of corn cut off the cob

1/2 of a sweet red pepper and 1/2 of a sweet yellow pepper, cut in medium slices from stem to blossom end, cut slices in half

10-15 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half

Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing or Newman’s Own Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Mix first three ingredients and add dressing to taste. I go light on the dressing; this salad is tasty with no dressing. At this point, the salad will keep for at least three days in the fridge. Keep it in on hand for lunch or a dinner side; add the tomatoes at serving time.

Options: Add 2 cups of your favorite cooked pasta, rinsed and cooled. If you have a favorite vinaigrette recipe use it, you can’t mess this salad up. I’ve used balsamic vinegar sparingly.

Best of the Best

Websites:

Just so you know… all the smart sounding statistics are paraphrased from the USDA (www.nass.usda.gov/Newsroom/2013/06_28_2013.asp) and the National Corn Growers Association (www.ncga.com/home); I found them interesting and thought you might too. Check out the websites for bushels more.

Washington Farms, Watkinsville, Ga., Corn Maze: www.washingtonfarms.net

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