Closest I’ll get to sunshine this cold, gray early spring day
Sugar Corn Pops, Bugles, Niblets, Jiffy Cornbread Mix, Fritos, and summer’s long-awaited treat corn on the cob was my childhood understanding of corn. Then Chi Chi’s changed everything when they showed up with the tortilla chips and salsa. And, if I hadn’t married a man who loved polenta, that would have been the complete, quickie version of my entire corn history.
Somehow, without any informed, factual reason, corn just got pushed to the back of my brain and marked second-class; lesser somehow than other whole grain options.
Is it because Corn’s crackie relatives are always attracting controversy for their freakish DNA , their miscreant behavior and their Big Food/Big Ag shenanigans?
Not sure, but my brain somehow decided corn = not so good and locked it away.
Well. Boy, do I ever owe Corn an apology. Turns out there’s a lot more to her than the few commercial varieties used by industry in about a gazillion-and-one products. Check out what the Whole Grains Council has to say about this useful, delicious and nutritious grain.
My deeper exploration of corn started with polenta. Then came home made cornbread. And is there any more filling and satisfying breakfast than a steaming bowl of cornmeal grits with their delicious pool of melted butter or, even better, cheese?
I have yet to grind my own cornmeal, explore hominy or make my own tortillas, but that’s sure to happen eventually. Particularly since planting my own corn is one of this summer’s projects, and I’m very excited about the open pollinated Early Riser variety waiting in its box for the soil to warm.
But you know what is a truly underrated use for corn? Cakes and cookies. Ask the Italians- they know. Corn makes some super-delicious (not too) sweet treats. Recently one chilly gray day I made these Italian cornmeal cookies, masa zaletti.
In case you haven’t noticed, I am an unashamed lover of cookies. There is no occasion that isn’t improved with a cookie, and if there’s a person who isn’t cheered by one, I sure haven’t met them. Since I am so helpless to resist, I prefer to keep cookies around that are more rustic, wholesome, less processed and not so sweet as store-bought brands.
And, of course anytime I cook something entirely from ingredients raised here and/or bought from local farmers instead of the grocery store, it’s a real bonus to say the least.
This particular recipe from Whole Grains for a New Generation adds a more savory element by mixing the raw fine yellow cornmeal with the New World ingredient masa harina. Check out the printable recipe here.
The whole batch only calls for 1/3 cup sugar, and no white flour at all, so I’d say these were a truly guilt free way to make a little sunshine of your very own.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy corn?