Back to New England

How appropriate it is that we are talking about food of New England here in the chef’s cooking corner during this 4th of July season. After all, the American colonies began in New England.

The early Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Colony—part of today’s Massachusetts—too late to grow many crops, and they lacked fresh food. It was a very hard winter for them as food was very scarce.

When the weather was warm the next spring they grew fruits and vegetables and had more food to eat. The Native Americans were very helpful. They showed the colonists what to plant and how to plant. They taught them how to grow corn (maize), barley, pumpkins, and many other crops. The Indians showed them how to pound corn into meal, and how to cook with it. This helped many of them survive the harsh winter of 1620–1621.

Now, corn on the cob is a special food for many 4th of July cook-outs. There are many ways to fix it. You can boil it , steam it, microwave it, and even grill corn on the cob.

The fresher the corn is, the tastier it will be. There is a saying that corn should be on the table two hours after its been picked. As soon as corn is picked, its sugar begins to gradually convert to starch. This then reduces the corn’s natural sweetness. Some folks add a teaspoon or two of sugar to the boiling water if the corn is past its prime.

Here is how to boil corn:

Add cold water to a pot large enough to hold all the ears of corn you want to prepare. Set on stove to come to a boil.

Shuck the corn, that is, pull off the outer husks of corn and pull off as many of the pesky little silks as you can.

Have an adult slowly lower the ears of corn into the boiling water and cover. After the water begins to boil again, leave the corn in for about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the freshness and softness of the corn.

Then, with tongs, have an adult remove corn from boiling water. Be careful to lift cover away from you so the steam doesn’t burn your face. Roll corn on the cob in real butter, add a little salt and you have a grand feast!

To microwave corn:

You can microwave corn with the shucks on or off. If you shuck first, wrap the ears in damp paper towels, and put them in the microwave. Cook them on high for about 6 to 9 minutes for two ears or about 12 to 15 minutes for four ears. Halfway through cooking, turn them over. If you are going to shuck the ears after cooking, use something like a clean dish towel to protect your hands from the hot ears as you shuck.

Whichever way you fix your corn on the cob, you will be eating a patriotic food on this day celebrating freedom.

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