Thursday, August 20, 2009

Attack of the Killer Corn Zip

I don’t usually buy super-specialized tools. For many of them (including the ones I have), a paring knife will do the trick. Stumpy and I have a small kitchen, and it doesn’t have much storage. And I’ll admit, I don’t optimize the storage I have (and I have no real intention of doing so). Despite not being on board with too many specialized tools (how many is too many? Two more than I have, I guess. It's like the saying that your doctor will only say you have a drinking problem if you drink more than your doctor), I still have a couple, most notably a cherry pitter and a corn zip. They are used rarely but still get valuable drawer space.

Cherry season is more or less ov-ah, but corn? Corn season is in sweet, full swing, and it’s time to have it on the cob, browned in butter, made into a soup, and, one of my favorites, in succotash.
As in, sufferin’ succotash. That’s the stuff. I both love the name (have it with some sarsaparilla, now, y’all), and the flavor. Wikipedia says it’s basically corn and lima beans or other shell beans (although notes that in Indiana it's made with green beans; I suppose my Midwest childhood would be why I think of succotash as having green beans), and basically that you can add other stuff, or not, as you wish. Wikipedia also says it was popular during the Depression, if you’re hoping to mine an echo of the Depression in the present, but I’m not really going to go there, because also? During the Depression produce was less expensive than processed foods, and now, it’s cheaper to buy the jumbo bag of Doritos than good tomatoes in season. So, right. That doesn’t really lead anywhere but my many personal pet peeves. Moving on. I generally skip the shell beans and use green beans. I often throw in some sort of squash (zucchini, patty pan, whatevs), and sometimes some halved cherry tomatoes.

Key to the prep of any corn dish NOT eaten on the cob is removing the kernels from the cob. A paring knife or larger knife works fine, but a corn zip works like a dream. As promised in its name, it zips the kernels right off. But you need to pay attention, because it has sharp little teeth, and if, say, you’re gripping the cob firmly while zipping and turning to talk to your 7-year-old about when you'll take her to the beach again, you may jab yourself deeply in the thumb with one of those sharp, corn zipping teeth, and bleed into the bowl of corn kernels. Which will be delicious, whether or not you add the extra bit of your own protein.

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