The Augusts of my childhood in Hawley, Massachusetts, were golden, both literally and figuratively.
The landscape was filled with the bright yellow of sunflowers and the duller yellow of hay. The sun seemed to shine every day as we swam and swam and swam.
And corn was consumed every single evening—just before all the neighborhood children rushed from the dinner table to engage in a spirited game of Kick the Can.
I loved corn then. I still do. The act of eating it takes a certain amount of deliberation. With its lovely long rows of kernels, this vegetable stretches on like a perfect summer day or evening.
The freshest corn (and of course we ate and eat only the freshest) is sweet and not starchy, purchased the day of its picking at the farm on which it grew.
Most of the time I still serve corn as I my mother did when I was young. I quickly boil or grill it and add butter, salt, and pepper.
I’m a lot less lavish with the butter than I was as a child, of course; in fact, sometimes I omit it altogether.
Once in a while I feel the urge to get go beyond straight corn, particularly with leftover kernels.
My mother’s favorite use for leftover corn is in succotash. She loves to combine it with cranberry beans (those whitish beans with pink stripes that appear in farm stands and stores only at this time of year). As soon as I find some cranberry beans, I’ll post her recipe.
Meanwhile, here is one of my current favorite ways to use leftover corn kernels. It combines the corn with another iconic August food, the tomato.
However I eat it, the texture and flavor of corn always take me back to those August days and nights of my childhood when time stood still, children played and laughed, and the landscape glimmered with yellow.
This post is my own contribution to the Loving Local Blogathon, taking place from August 22 to 28 as part of Massachusetts Farmers’ Market Week.
It also raises funds for Mass Farmers Markets, a charitable nonprofit organization that helps farmers markets throughout Massachusetts. Please support this worthy cause if you can; here’s the donation link.
for the Salsa:
3 medium farm-fresh tomatoes or 5 plum tomatoes
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped (white part plus some green)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
Core and chop the tomatoes. Using a slotted spoon, move them into a medium bowl. Discard the remaining juice or use it in soup.
To the bowl add the peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and salt. Allow the salsa to sit at least 1/2 hour so the flavors can meld.
for the Fritters:
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (if you want plain traditional fritters, omit this, but I like the hint of spice)
1/2 cup (generous) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
chopped parsley and/or cilantro as desired
2 cups leftover corn kernels
peanut, canola, or even olive oil as needed for frying
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
In a bowl thoroughly combine the flour, the baking powder, the salt, the pepper, the cumin, and the cheese.
Whisk together the milk, the oil, and the egg. Add the herbs if you are using them. Stir this liquid into the flour mixture. (A few lumps are just fine.) Stir in the corn.
Pour oil into a frying pan until it just about covers the bottom of a frying pan when you swirl it around to distribute it. Heat the oil until it is about 350 degrees. (It will shimmer!)
Pop spoonsful of batter into the hot oil.
Cook the batter quickly, turning as needed, until it is golden brown. Do not crowd the fritters in the pan! They will be idiosyncratic but lovely. Add a little more oil if you really must for frying.
When individual fritters are ready drain them on paper towels and store them in the warm oven until all the fritters have been cooked.
fritters (see above)
salsa (see above)
sour cream or crème fraîche to taste
Top each fritter with a spoonful of salsa and a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.
Serves 4 to 6.