Tag: corn

Getting out of Town & A Summer Recipe Roundup

In a few hours the car will be packed with coolers and beach chairs, the bocce set, a frisbee and the biggest watermelon I have ever brought home from the market. We will drive north, ride a ferry, and then drive north again. It will be after dark when we turn off the highway and cruise through a dozey little town, turning off the main drag and ascending up just off the water’s edge into the trees before we stop the car and un-pack at the once RV, now extended permanent structure – a freak of architectural and design standards, it can only be described as part trailer, part cabin. It is known in our family as The Trabin.

There will be a cool beer as we unpack groceries and bedding, making up beds and getting settled. Perhaps a game of cards, or a board game before bed. No cell phones, no TV, no worries. The Trabin is not a place for checking your work email. It is not the place for stress or strife. It’s the place for long lazy breakfasts, afternoon naps in dappled sunlight beneath a tree, long walks by the water, or strolls through the salt marsh to see the family of local beavers. It’s a place where sloth is encouraged and vices are forgiven, where you can wear just your bathing suit and sleep until 11. Stay up late and drink whiskey, playing solitaire ’til dawn. Make pancakes for a crowd and not do the dishes until later when you’re sun-baked and deliriously happy from a day at the beach. Anything goes. This is summer living. The Trabin is a treat. It’s really only comfortable from April to October so you have to squeeze in weekends and some more extended stays when you can. It’s rustic and fabulous – a true oasis where nothing need be difficult, and everything should be fun.

Since there are still some hours in the work week, not to mention packing and preparing for our little weekend away, I’m leaving you not with a new, original recipe but with a round up of some of my favourite summer recipes from the archives. I’ve chosen a favourite drink so you can cool down with this refreshing take on classic lemonade, an easy salsa – just add your favourite tortilla chips , a bright, crunchy salad and a satisfying main and, a decadent no bake dessert that I can’t believe I almost forgot about.

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy the recipes, take care of each other and I’ll be back soon!

Summer Salad with Roasted Corn & Avocado

This house has always smelled the same, and smells most like itself in the summertime. The high, hot sun bakes itself deep into the asphalt shingles and that slow creeping heat slides down through the walls, the floors, so much so that even the basement tiles become less chilly. With that warmth, comes a cache of memories, hanging, gallery-style in the warm air. I have known seventeen summers with this house. I’ve seen it’s lilac hedges fill in, watched the night sky from it’s front stoop, slept and wept and dreamt in its rooms. It would be impossible to count the number of family dinners around its table, and more impossible to forget the family who have sat there, sharing a meal and a laugh, some who will never return.

The dining room table stands at the house’s heart. It is wide and round, a great, old oak relic, a memory from the farmhouse of my childhood, resurrected in the city of my youth. At any chance, without prompting, my grandfather, now nearly ninety, will tell you the story of how he bought that table at auction in 1952 (or was it ’47?) for eight dollars. He’ll tell you that it’s solid oak, and run his hand over the tabletop and remark that it needs refinishing.

When the whole troop is here the table spreads and seats almost everyone, but it wasn’t always that way. By the time there were enough kids old enough to feed themselves and fill the card table in the living room, I was too old to join them. I’ve always slipped in to a seat at this table, preferably by the wall, at the window. This is an especially pleasant vantage point in the summer months when the evening sun is too low and still too hot to eat in the yard, and that old oak table fills up. With your back to the west wall you can catch the breeze from the window in your hair and stave off the heat as you sit elbow to elbow, proverbially breaking bread.

You could cover my eyes and spin me until I couldn’t stand and then lead me into this house and I would know precisely where I was. It’s not the colour on the walls, or the corner cabinet full of Granny’s pheasant-patterned china that makes it so familiar. It’s not the birds nest on the mantle or even that weathered old table, it’s the smell. Like a fingerprint on glass, it is clear and unique and wholly recognizable. But like a fingerprint, it is mysterious in its specificity. Without a particular quality to describe, I cannot quite articulate it for you. I only know that the summer heat brings it out like no other time of year, amplifying the magic and silence of this house. Its what makes the space feel known, what prompts the stories and memories. It is a part of the quiet moments and the raucous laughter. For me the smell of this house in summer is the shimmering thread in this family’s tapestry, woven over nearly two decades, so much of which we have spent simply chatting around an old table, pouring more wine and serving up summer salads.

Summer Salad with Roasted Corn & Avocado

The roasted corn in this salad is most efficiently achieved on the barbecue, but a couple of careful minutes on a hot griddle pan or under the broiler will do the trick. Aim to cook the starchiness from the corn as well as achieving a flavourful partial char which is both pretty and delicious. 

2 ears of corn, shucked, roasted and cut from the cob

1 large red bell pepper

1 large yellow bell pepper

2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped

1 tomato, chopped with seeds removed

1/2 cup chopped scallions, green parts only

Juice of 1 lime

pinch of red pepper flakes

sea salt and pepper to taste

Stir together the corn, peppers and scallions. Season with lime, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Add avocado and stir gently before serving. Garnish with lime wedges for extra zing.

Serves 4-6

Corn Bread

Corn bread seems to be one of those recipes that can, over time, become a closely guarded family secret. There are so many ways to make it, and depending on where your family is from there will be different ‘rules’ that apply. Although it is practically a staple in the American south, cornbread transcends borders and cultures because it is simple to make, economical and extremely versatile.

I grew up knowing corn bread as a pan bread, often baked in a cast-iron skillet, it’s soft, wet  yellow batter baking into a crunchy bottomed, crisp topped round. With this recipe I wanted to look at it more as a quick bread, still unyeasted of course, but more bread-like in shape and almost cake-like in consistency. Employing ‘the muffin method’ (quickly combining wet and dry ingredients at the last moment) to the batter seemed to make sense and I’m happy to say that it worked out beautifully. Using a deep loaf pan made for a long cooking time, but the wait is well worth it; you are rewarded with a moist, tender loaf with a deep fresh-corn flavour. We ate this along roasted chicken and the Radicchio Salad posted earlier this week but it would make a great accompaniment to stews, chili or soups as well. Enjoy!

Corn Bread

preheat your oven to 350 degrees

1 cup of fine yellow cornmeal

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a cup of frozen kernel corn

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups of milk

1/2 a cup of butter, melted

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Beat eggs and set aside.

Add the frozen corn to the dry ingredients and stir well.

Mix the melted butter with the milk, add the beaten eggs. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix quickly to combine. Don’t over mix, allow for some dry spots and lumps. The batter will be thick. Scrape the batter into a large, buttered loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or up to an hour and 15 minutes.  Test for doneness with a wooden toothpick or skewer.

Invert the loaf onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.