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Do not ever give a Queen a home appliance as a gift. Period. Now, an exception can be made in the event she just happens to mention in passing that she wishes she had, say, a full Viking kitchen, and then she goes out of town for a few days; and when she comes back, her entire kitchen is renovated with fabulous Viking appliances. She will be touched. On the other hand, if it is her birthday and you, all on your own, select, purchase, and present her with a Crock Pot, well, you are over."
-Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love
Oh. It's ALL RIGHT?
He's lucky he didn't end up wearing an entire bowl of it on his head.
I was initially incensed (having been up till 2 a.m. preparing it), until Uncle Roland saved the day by mentioning, "hey now, that's high praise in this neck of the woods," adding that "all right" was a southern synonym for "as good as it gets."
He's right of course. I don't know what I could've been thinking.
I was raised in a house where my grandmother and all my aunts and uncles -when surveying the most sumptuous of feasts-expressed their most enthusiastic delight with the casual proclamation, "I guess I could eat it."
I didn't really approve of this tendency growing up, and I think I still don't.
What are we...Amish? I know I was never taught anything about the sin of pride.
I like a rave review now and again, and I've been known to cook for the occasional Yankee just to get one.
My aunt Wilma, to this day, greets every guest at the door with a spoon full of some outrageously delicious concoction, accompanied by the self-deprecatory disclaimer, "Here. Taste this. See if it's fit to eat."
The correct accolade is, "aww, yeah. It's fine."
This isn't modesty (false or otherwise). It's not low self-esteem. It's just southern culinary ritual.
July is my favorite month as a cook, because it's usually the best time for tomatoes (which I could live on, entirely) and corn, and a dozen other favorites.
I only became a corn fan in adulthood, when I realized that I wasn't required to eat it, like a horse, off the cob-which I found messy and undignified. I wasn't prissy, I just didn't like to wear my food. Even as a kid, I appreciated the value of a little decorum.
If you want to gnaw it right off the cob, by all means, go ahead. I won't stop you. (I'd never try to diminish your enjoyment; you can inject it or snort it for all I care).
But I came up with this salad recipe for a lot of reasons: I love corn. I hate to floss after every bite. I don't like it when butter runs down my elbows. I hate to get sticky. And so on.
I've tried to adjust the recipe to a crowd smaller than 250, but my measurements may well be off. The one thing that is important is that you keep the proportions pretty small, and dice everything to the same size-so that every bite allows the vegetables to complement each other.
I noticed a few weeks ago on Martha's Summer Kitchen (a favorite guilty pleasure) that Martha Stewart makes a similar dish. In my defense, mine was first, and mine is better. (Also, I'm not currently being investigated by the SEC-so you can, as ever, trust me.)
There are string beans in her version. And Martha cooks most of the vegetables first, including the corn.
C'mon. A little insider trading among friends is one thingbut you just don't mess with fresh corn.n
Rhonda Reeves is sitting in for Karen Workman this week.
Cumberland Corn Salad
You will need:
* dozen ears of supersweet corn, shucked and silked (slice from cob, but slice it shallow; do NOT milk it, or you will end up either with husk in your salad, or corn chowder); if you find a worm, don't panic: it won't eat much.
* pint of FIRM teardrop tommy-toe tomatoes (quartered; and infused overnight in fresh basil)
* juice of two or three whole limes
*seeded and diced cucumbers (marinated overnight in vinegar and water, fresh dill, and kosher salt-zealously peeled; one bitter bite will ruin the entire salad)
* a slightly-hot pepper, seeded and diced (I use anaheim or poblano )
*one seeded and diced red bell pepper
*one green onion, snipped.
*one garlic clove (rub the bowl with it; then rub the bowl again with lime)
*whatever fresh herbs you have on hand (chives, garlic chives, cilantro, lemon basil, Italian flat leaf parsley)
All ingredients-except the corn-can be prepped the night before (in separate containers). Add the corn as late as you can (bearing in mind it takes a while to shuck, silk, and slice 12 ears of corn)-you don't want the sugar converting to starch.
If you don't have a front porch for this task, add about $10,000 to the cost of this recipe, because you're going to need to remodel.
Also, add coarse kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and more lime juice at the table. Salt is a desicant; you do not want it to pull the natural juices or flavor out of the vegetables.
This isn't soup, it's salad. If you want gazpacho, email me.
A great garnish for this salad is sliced avocado.
A great way to serve it is to hollow out an avocado and fill the empty shells with it, with blue corn nacho chips on the side.
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