Have you ever picked corn in the morning, shucked it that afternoon, and eaten it for supper that evening? If you were born after 1920, the answer is probably “no”. That’s the date of the first U.S. census that indicated over 50% of Americans were “urban” versus “rural”.
Aw, shucks. You don’t know what you’re missing. We rural folk may not have easy access to 5-star restaurants with world-renowned chefs, but trust me, that doesn’t mean we don’t eat well.
Imagine this: It’s early spring, and the sun is barely visible above the horizon as I step out my back door on my way to the barn for morning chores. I happen to glance at my asparagus patch as I pass by and Lo, and Behold! Three shoots have sprung up overnight, the first of the season. Now, that is not nearly enough for a meal for Danny and me. I could pick them and store them in the refrigerator until the crop produces enough shoots for a meal, but that might still be several days away and these three spears would lose some of their just-picked yumminess.
So, I make an executive decision. I snap the spears, shake off the dew, and eat them raw right then and there. You know that eyes-closed look on the face of a chocoholic taking the first bite of a designer-made truffle? That’s the look on my face as I take my first bite of my first spear of the season.
I do feel a twinge of guilt for not saving them and sharing with Danny, but that quickly disappears with my second bite.
That “just-picked yumminess” is the reason why I no longer purchase asparagus from a supermarket. Or cucumbers. Or beets. Or basil. Or dill.
Or corn. I have been spoiled. Now, don’t get me wrong. “Fresh” corn from a supermarket is good, but once you’ve tasted corn the same day it was picked, you just can’t go back.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my great-nieces visited our farm with her friend. They just happened to be here during our annual sweet corn harvest. They helped us clean and preserve the corn, and in return, we gave them just-picked sweet corn to eat for supper. They thought it was a very fair trade.
They helped shuck:
And they helped wash and preserve:
Even the horses enjoyed the leftovers!
Every spring as I prepare my garden for another season, I ask myself: Is it worth it?
Is the fresh produce worth all the hours spent in my garden and in front of the kitchen sink and a hot stove? Is it worth the muddy knees and sore back muscles?
And every spring the answer is the same. Yes. Definitely, yes.
(Growing up, raccoons were an annual threat to our corn harvest. Read the July chapter of Another Year on the Family Farm.)
Next Week: What the Heck is Schwartzbeeren?