I just read an awesome poem by a friend and former colleague’s daughter, published in the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) Navigator online blog. Source: beth and bella and bree and brielle.
beth and bella and bree and brielle
went down to the park (to relax one day)
and beth found a firefly that flew to the sky; forward to tomorrow and back again to yesterday that made her run as fast as the wind, and
bella ate some wonderful fruit that made her feel like she could float;
and bree laid down in the soft, summer grass and watched the leaves sway and dance: and
brielle climbed a tree that was as tall as forever and its view stretched out to the green studded meadows and back to her home.
Whatever we think, whatever we were taught to believe will keep on changing with the world’s scenery.
Wow! This beautiful, gentle, tranquil and philosophical poem is rich with imagery, illustrative of the concept and value of mindfulness, and fills me with hope. Are you with me?
Click here to read the poem online and navigate to other contributions.
Copyright belongs to Brielle Burns, a 6th grader from Texas
It was a perfect late autumn afternoon this Saturday last when my son and I took a drive out to The Oasis in Austin for a libation and a chat. The wind was brisk but the sun warmed our faces, and the view was stunning.
I noticed that our drinks looked beautiful in silhouette against the backdrop of the lake and distant shore and took out my camera to snap some pics.
It took a few moments to get the angle right and include the shadows, and there was some grumbling about the delay. While waiting to drink his delicious Dr. Pepper, the Musical Millennial threw down this off-the-cuff haiku.
perfect photo op… impatient millennial: “ok, time to drink!”
Holiday dinners are about tradition, traditional recipes and taste memories that carry meaning beyond anything our taste buds can comprehend; here are some from my family’s table:
The yeast rolls from “Mema’s” recipe, almost the basis for a religion (you know I’m right).
The stuffing/dressing. It.Must.Be.Right. There’s a whole, as-yet unpublished story about the evolution of the dressing in my family, a North-South conflict that threatened my parents’ marriage until it was resolved. I’ll come back to that later, but before Christmas, because I promised a dressing devotee that I’d document it.
That green bean casserole that no one should like because it has all those extra-processed ingredients – hello, “French”-friend onions from a can!!!??? Someone in my family always manages to sneak that dish in, and they all look at me to see if I will break into food-snob mode and castigate them. This year, I relaxed my standards and had a few bites at Thanksgiving. Surprisingly, the world didn’t stop spinning on its axis. Yet.
The faux cranberry-something in a can (another anathema to me, but hey, some of my loved ones swear by it, and so does Rick Bragg). To counter this abomination, I actually make cranberry relish from scratch, and I’m usually the only one who eats it. I’m ok with that.
Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping (where o’ where did that come from???)
The fresh creamed corn made from a 75-year old recipe.
That last bit, the creamed corn, is the subject of today’s post. This is serious business.My Dad always made my grandmother Mema’s creamed corn (once she was finished making it; she’s been doing Thanksgiving for the angels since 2000). Dad earnestly took Mema’s recipe and made it his own. The documentation of her recipe is below, from a school project my aunt undertook years ago.
My aunt’s notes below the instructions are a testimonial:
This was the way I had eaten corn all my life until I married. It was a big let-down to try canned cream corn and I have made it a point to use this recipe often.”
I wanted to get the latest take on this, so in 2015, I asked Dad, via email:
Dad – I found Mema’s recipe for creamed corn (from Aunt Lynda). It used corn, butter, water, salt and pepper. I think you said you used cream instead, and white pepper. Is that right?
He was immediately forthcoming, as this was an important issue in the family:
Kim, last year I followed mom’s recipe to the letter and I’m sure you remember it had too much butter. This year I followed my recipe with just a lot of white pepper, maybe a tablespoon of butter and less than a cup of water. Much better.
Dad is gone now. I’m having a hard time believing that he will not be bringing creamed corn every year, or ever again. Last year at Thanksgiving (2016), because of an illness, he was out of the hospital but on a stomach feeding tube, and couldn’t eat – or even taste – anything, but he still made his famous creamed corn. Did I mention that this creamed corn is from scratch, starting with fresh corn on the cob and never, ever frozen or canned – don’t even think about it!
Dad was an amazing optimist; taking a bit of every dish at our 2016 Thanksgiving table of bounty, he made a to-go container that he froze for a time in the future when he would be able to eat again. That time didn’t come. He left us in June of this year, never having gotten clearance to eat normally again, never thawing and enjoying that belated Thanksgiving feast. I miss him every day. But I feel his presence every day, too.
But here I go digressing again. Let’s do the recipe! This year, I made the creamed corn myself for the first time in advance of our 2017 Thanksgiving celebration. Hoping not to create a family controversy, I made some minor modifications to update the classic recipe while preserving its simple elegance. Since no one noticed, I think I’m in the clear. The major differences were that I used cream instead of water, added a bit more of a savory taste with a small amount of sautéed leeks, and the secret ingredient – ground nutmeg.
Using the vintage corn scraper handed down from my father and grandmother, and with their recipe notes as a guide, I was deep in the heart of family taste memories when I made this dish.
Harvell Family Creamed Corn (serves 8-10)
8 large cobs of fresh corn
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced and chopped leeks
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg or about 50 scrapes of fresh nutmeg (preferred)
1 green onion, very thinly sliced
Shuck the corn cobs and wash off any stray silk. Use a corn scraper or knife to cut all of the kernels from the cobs, collecting them in a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add the leeks and sauté for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add the corn and “corn milk” and continue to sauté on medium for 7-10 minutes until the mixture is thickened and the corn is soft. Add the cream, salt and white pepper and cook for about 5 more minutes until the cream has thickened. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Serve hot and garnish with the sliced green onion.
Note: The creamed corn will keep for several days in the fridge, so you can make it early. It won’t seem like a large amount, but it is very rich, so a small serving is just right.
The end product is a rich, creamy dish that makes you nostalgic for the old days when life was simpler, people were kinder and you could borrow an egg from your neighbor, even if you never experienced any “old days” in that way.
Check out my post about the usefulness of a corn scraperhere, and check out this other blogfor the deep-dive into the mechanics of the use of a scraper. And let me know if you make the Harvell Family Creamed Corn for your holiday table.
I think corn is a magic vegetable. It is good on its own, unadulterated and on its humble cob: grilled, boiled, or just fresh off the stalk. It is a marvelous added ingredient that brings both flavor and texture to muffins or savory breads, main courses like meat loaf, or hearty soups, chowders or risotto. It can star in a variety of salads or adorn a gourmet pizza. Highlighting its flexibility, there are dozens of ways to showcase corn with all types of international flavors, from Italian to Peruvian to Southwestern to Scandinavian to African and more.
We eat a lot of corn here at Glover Gardens. It is my go-to quick vegetable when the main course requires intensive effort. I often cut it off the cob and pair it with peppers and tomatoes and give it a quick, hot sauté. I also like to use my antique corn scraper to get the most of the creamy “corn milk”, which both thickens and provides a richness to a corn-based dish.
Do you have a corn scraper? Here’s what mine looks like.
This scraper was handed down from my grandmother to my Dad, and then to me when he decided to buy a new one. I treasure it! It is an antique but still very much in use, the best kind of inheritance. I think of my grandmother (“Mama”) and my Dad every time I use this wonderful tool.
Here’s a photo of a new corn scraper in action, from a company that sells them, Lem Products (see the link below).
The picture above is very much a styled image; the real thing in action looks very, very messy. See all my denuded corn cobs below? And how creamy and juicy the output is? And how the corn is all over the countertop? I was documenting the family creamed corn recipe while I was making it for Thanksgiving, and got corn bits everywhere from my enthusiastic corn-scraping, including on the computer and the camera. I’m still finding little bits on the keyboard (this makes me smile.)
So, if you like corn and don’t have a corn scraper, you need one! This handy little tool retails from various places for about $10 – $15, which makes for a great stocking stuffer for a cook or a foodie. If you do have one, do you use it often? I’d like to know…
I would really like to blog more often, but time is at a premium. However, there is always incredible material from other bloggers that can and should be shared. Here’s today’s contribution, a lovely photo and quiet couple of stories that have been woven together in one of my favorite blogs.
“The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go and you can’t hold on You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get…
Thanksgiving weekend, eight of us family members spanning three generations packed into my Honda Pilot and headed down to the Bolivar Peninsula where I grew up. We were on a mission to visit Dad’s favorite restaurant down there, and remember him. It was a perfect autumn day to walk the beach and reminisce.
So of course, I wrote a simple little haiku:
back home at the beach the day after thanksgiving remembering Dad
When I looked at the pictures later, I saw each of us drifting in our separate thoughts:
that day at the beach my son was looking forward ~ I was looking back
Somehow, Dad was there with each of us, in that place where we have so many memories of him. I know I can always find him when I look out to sea.
the salty air’s kiss joins the sundancing-sparkles: Dad’s eternal hug
For a look into what it was like to grow up along the beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, check out my days by the water. Dad really liked that poem, and I cherish his comment on the post.
Our musical millennial is at it again. Click below for his latest composition, New Flame, recorded at the November 17 performance of the University of Texas at Austin Jazz Orchestra, under the director of Department Head and Professor Jeffrey Hellmer.