Our time at the cottage is strategically planned to coincide with two things: first, the end of haying season in South-Western Ontario. To my mind, there is nothing quite so beautiful as a freshly mown field, all ready to be scooped up and rolled into gigantic "muffets" for the barn animals during winter. The colour of that hay is the most beautiful golden yellow you can imagine, and there have been times when I have been so overwhelmed by the beauty of a "perfect field", I have been compelled to pull my car over and take a photo of it.
And speaking of beautiful golden yellow, the most IMPORTANT thing that we plan our time at the cottage for is the beginning of our Sweet Corn Season.
People, there is absolutely nothing in this world that is more delectable to eat on a hot summer evening than a perfectly prepared ear of Ontario Sweet Corn. I don't know why, but it just seems to me that our farmers do Sweet Corn better than any place else on the planet. I've eaten corn all over. Don't get me started... I've been to a lot of places, and each place I go, I look for CORN before I start feeling tempted to put down any roots at all. No good corn? I pack up and go home. The slogan goes, "Good Things Grow In Ontario", and they're not kidding, ESPECIALLY when it comes to Sweet Corn.
Two weeks ago, my girlies and I began our yearly Quest for The Best. The cottage is located right smack in the middle of one of the finest farming districts in the province, and we scoured it for as many varieties of Sweet Corn as we could find. We tried common-a-garden yellow Sweet Corn from the local Independent Grocer's. We tried a variety called "Bodacious", which, in spite of its compelling monniker, failed to impress the family critics. At a local market, I was "wooed" by a farmer selling what he called "Candy Corn: The Sweetest Corn You Can Buy!" He claimed that he had picked it himself that morning, and loaded a dozen into a bag for me to try, free of charge... When we got home and peeled the husks back, we discovered that not only were the kernels a bit on the small-and-mean side, there were also little patches of mildew on a few of them, thus bursting the bubble that they were even remotely fresh. Yick.
Now that we are home once more, the unpacking is done, and we're settled back into routine, I decided that it was time to throw the kids into the loser cruiser and take them up the road to a local farm, which, in the summertime, sells a magnificent variety of locally-grown produce.
And today, we FINALLY found the best Sweet Corn of the 2007 season.
I stood there as they unloaded the ears out of the tractor-wagon that had pulled up out of the fields when we arrived. I carefully picked out six, and was told that it was nothin' more than regular "Peaches-and-Cream". Not "Super-Sweet-Bodacious-Candy", just plain old yellow-and-white.
We bought the corn, some beautiful tomatoes still warm from the vine, a gigantic cucumber, a handful of red potatoes and a link of summer sausage, and brought it all home for dinner. I sliced and dressed the cucumbers and tomatoes, boiled the potatoes with mint from my own garden, and the corn with a spoonful of white sugar thrown in the water... All of that, with a big dish of cottage cheese, is what my girlies call a "Farm-Fresh Supper". It's what they like to eat best in the summertime, with plates on their knees, sitting on the patio steps, their hair still wet from swimming.
Oh, the CORN, people, THE CORN...
The Corn was purrrr-fect. I smothered it with butter and salt and pepper, and handed each kid an enormous ear. We sat munching and slorping noisily, butter running down our chins, and waxing ecstatic.
We compared notes as to what technique each of us uses to eat corn. I have long been a devotee of the "typewriter" technique, as, long ago, my elderly grandfather explained that being meticulously careful about keeping track of all the kernels would allow me to eat them all, without missing any on the cob. Child Number One and her six-year-old sister are fans of the "round-and-round" method. They explained to me that it keeps them from getting butter up their noses as they eat, so long as they work downwards and not upwards. I tried it, and damned if they weren't absolutely right. Child Number Three, aged three, is still just developing her corn-eating technique, but suffice to say that this evening, she just chomped away haphazardly, cramming as much into her mouth at a time as she possibly could.
We ate the half-dozen ears I had bought in about five minutes flat. We COULD have easily eaten more... And we WILL be eating more, when I go back tomorrow morning to buy another dozen or so (Daddy will be home for dinner tomorrow night, so we'll be needing all twelve, I have the feeling).
I knew we had found our Winner of the Sweet Corn 2007 contest when Child Number Two turned to me in the evening sunlight, her face glistening with butter, and kernel-skins stuck between her wiggly little front teeth:
Child Number Two: (earnestly, with her brown eyes shining) Mum, can we have corn for BREAKFAST tomorrow?!!
Bring it on, baby, bring it on... And pass the butter, please...