It's that time of year again. When I drive around the area, I see cornfields full to bursting of tall cornstalks, their tassels waving in the wind. Although I live in a part of New Jersey that has more than its share of McMansions, townhouses and condo developments, some of the local farms are in farmland preservation programs. When one drives local roads, one has to be alert to the possibility of encountering a tractor tooling along the road like a tortoise. I'm sure others find that an inconvenience, but I don't. I think of it as something that adds value to the neighborhood.
There are farm stands scattered about of course, but in this area, even supermarkets sell corn and other produce from local farms. Yesterday I was at the supermarket and saw some corn from a farm in Monmouth Junction. After some hesitation (my corn-boiling pot is on the small side), I succumbed and got five ears.
Once upon a time, my dad told me the perfect length of time to boil corn. As I recall, this was in response to a Garrison Keillor monologue where Garrison divulged his perfect length of time to boil corn. My dad's response was, "Oh, no, absolutely not," or words to that effect. Maybe it was a cultural difference between Minnesota and Michigan (where my dad grew up). In any case, I wrote dad's recommendation on a piece of paper and promptly lost the paper. It's probably still here somewhere, stuck in a box full of other random pieces of paper.
So there I was last night, with two husked corn ears and a pot of boiling water, trying to remember the magic formula.
The ears themselves were a study in contrasts. They were a mix of white and yellow kernels. One was as regular as a city's grid street plan, while the other's rows wandered crazily across the ear. I'm tempted to say one ear was Midtown and the other was Downtown, in the oldest part of town, but comparing corn ears to the New York City street plan seems so wrong, in so many ways.
Parenthetical note: I really need to get a digital camera. That way this post would've been adorned with a photo of cornfields and another of the two husked ears in all their contrasting glory.
I thought the magic number was either seven or eleven minutes, but eleven seemed too long, so I plunked the corn into the pot and went for seven. I suppose I could ask my dad for the magic formula again, but that would be too easy. At the end of seven minutes, the corn came out of the pot, steaming hot. I applied the butter and waited for the corn to cool off a little. I've been trying to reduce my butter intake lately, but I splurged for this meal. I know there are lots of other good things you can put on corn, but corn on the cob with butter is the way I grew up doing it.
When I bit into the first ear, I knew I'd chosen correctly. It was perfect.