A Corny Post

The Corn Palace

Bird beaks peck away at grains of corn on the walls of The Corn Palace. Still, the murals created with several colors of dried corn and grain arrest the eye. On our trip West we visited this grand monument to farmers and the grain industry they represent in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Web_1964_Corn Palace

A Quote about Corn:

“A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine,” said Anne Bronte, poet and novelist of West Yorkshire, England, 1800s

Corn Sex, according to Elizabeth Kolbert in “The Big Heat,” The New Yorker, July 23, 2012 issue



Mennonites and Corn

Mennonites in Lancaster County, including the Longenecker family, participated in the whole process of corn production: planting, hoeing, harvesting, husking, canning, freezing – and best of all – eating the succulent grains of corn on the cob, the buttery juice running down our chins and forearms.

In her book Mennonite Women of Lancaster County, Joanne Hess Siegrist features photos of Mennonite women hard at work husking and cutting corn off the cob (pages 124, 124)



My Mother Ruth loved making her baked corn recipe from the Mennonite Community Cookbook. She served it in a chocolate-brown Pyrex casserole dish nested in a basket of tight weave. We loved every bite, especially tasty during corn season.

Baked Corn Recipe


Want More Corn?

Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet, diplomat and politician, apparently loved vegetables too. He wrote about tomatoes, corn and more. Here is the link to his poem “Ode to Maize.”

Share something corny here. We are all ears!

Coming up next: Going Male, Amish Romance Novels


45 thoughts on “A Corny Post

  1. Marian, you are so so silly. I like that! That corn palace was a fun stop Amazing. My 2 children and I toured the U.S. in 2001 and that was one of our many stops. The thing is, we never made it inside. Sara was in trouble and I couldn’t leave her in R.V. Jon & I are still mad at her! Not really. We’re over it. Thanks for the memories, as usual.


    1. Great to see you here, Patti. You get the prize as first responder. I see your fabulous photos on Facebook but don’t get notifications of new posts by email any more, puzzling to me.

      The inside of the Palace is museum-like and maybe your children would not have had the patience for it. Anyway, to me the exterior is the main thing, a feast for the eyes!


          1. Oh, oh I meant the corn palace was exactly as you said, “A feast for our eyes.” I hope my first post this year will be at least close to that! And thank you for the compliment, Marian.


  2. Good morning, Marian! What a fun post–the great photos, quotes, Neruda poem (didn’t he write great food poetry?), and your “corny” remarks!
    That corn palace is incredible, with its minarets and all!
    You probably know this, but in British English, at least in Anne Bronte’s time, corn could mean any type of grain. In early American and British cookbooks, recipes with corn were often called “Indian”–Indian pudding, Indian bread, etc.
    I love the corn husking photos. Freshly picked corn is delicious–of course, I’ve only had it that way because I’ve bought it at a farm stand or had it given to me by someone who grew it. πŸ™‚


    1. I hope other commenters will read this and become enlightened about the meaning of “corn” from an historian’s point of view.

      One of Neruda’s poems about the tomato appeared here about a year ago. It’s odd to think that a politician/diplomat would write poetry on such homespun topics. I love it too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The tomato poem popped into my mind–perhaps it was from your previous post. πŸ™‚

        Corn is really fascinating, as you touch on with the “corn sex” portion. πŸ™‚ I discuss corn a bit in my History of American Cooking book, but there are books devoted to the subject. There’s the whole matter of nixtamalization–for instance.


        1. Merril is getting really fancy here. I had to look it up: Nixtamalization, typically refers to a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled.

          Who knew?? Maybe you can slip it into the conversation as you are enjoying a buttered ear of corn soon.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Love it, Marian. I remember growing corn in my parent’s garden and enjoying those wonderful sweet ears of buttery perfection. These days with Monsanto and GMOs I don’t eat much of it unless it’s organic and from a garden in the area where I live. For me it’s become a rare delicacy.


    1. I wonder whether corn’s in season now in your neck of the woods. Some of my farm friends on Facebook are showing photos of harvested sweet corn in Pennsylvania.

      Corn as a delicacy: I love it, Joan!


  4. Just this morning we went to the farmers market. My younger son David drove from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay (where we’re on a brief holiday, returning home tomorrow) yesterday morning to surprise his ma on her birthday – a mere 55o kms. The BIGGEST surprise I EVER got!!! Saturday mornings are market day just outside Plettenberg Bay … fresh homemade produce, plants, local clothing etc at reasonable prices. Their breakfasts are the best. Davey had the full monty – 2 eggs, tomatoes, sausages, bacon for Africa, and the biggest CORN fritter you can imagine. O my goodness, deliciousness … we were discussing how to make corn fritters and now I note there is a baked corn recipe Marian thank you so much! I can imagine slicing it (or tearing at it) and adding masses of butter to it …


    1. Corn fritters! Mother made them all the time from fresh corn when we were growing up. The dish she made most recently though was the baked corn. That’s why I featured it here today. I can just picture you getting all excited about what you can do with corn today, Susan.


  5. Corn sex is absolutely amazing; I’ve read something similar before, and it is a marvel that corn ever develops! Your pictures of Mennonite women cutting up corn remind me of one of the slider images over on http://www.thirdway.com right now. Check it out if you have time. It’s a classic too.

    My corn is so far behind everyone else’s around here, and we take too much pride in having “early” corn and then long after everyone else’s has gone away. I see on FB a friend from over in Blountstown has corn by the side of the road today she’s trying to get rid of for 20 cents an ear. If only! I suppose it is in season there where you live as well. Enjoy!


    1. I checked over at “thirdway”.website and saw the slider image. Thanks for introducing other readers to this Mennonite website. Don’t worry too much about the timing of your corn harvest. You’ll have fresh ears when others’ produce has petered out.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Rebecca, thank you for reading and commenting here.You love all things country, including fresh garden food as I recall from your own blog. It sounds like your buttery corn on the cob will be a July event.


  6. Sweet corn is my favorite summer vegetable. We grow our own, but it’s barely a ripple in the field now. “Knee high by the 4th of July” is the saying. I bought some today at the grocer, 6 very small ears for 2.00. But it was calling to me! I hope it is not as disappointing as the corn I bought 2 weeks ago…tasted old. I ended cutting it all off the cobs and making scalloped corn. I think the corn we’re getting now comes from FL.

    My mother’s favorite side dish to make whenever she made meatloaf was scalloped corn, a lot like the baked corn recipe above. She had that cookbook and the red and white plaid Better Homes and Garden…but I never saw her use a cookbook. She cooked everything from memory. She liked to add green pepper to her scalloped corn (she had it in the meatloaf also).

    One family I worked for over the summer as a mother’s helper told me the way I was to cook the corn…she said I needed to add milk and sugar to the simmering water to replace the milk and sugar lost when the corn was picked. I did it as she asked, but I never continued that practice. Maybe it is sound advice, I don’t know. Maybe it would have helped that first batch of corn I bought in May.

    We have been to the corn palace. It’s a sight to see, for sure.


    1. I just noticed it says my comment posted June 14 at 3:10 am…well it is still Saturday the 13th and it is only10:12 pm.


    2. I’m glad you can relate to several items in this post, including the Corn Palace. I smiled when I read about adding milk and sugar to the corn. My mother didn’t know the scientific reasons behind certain ingredients but she always thought milk and sugar made dishes taste better – and BUTTER too. I imagine the green pepper would add some tartness to your mother’s recipes and maybe a touch of color.

      Thank you, Athanasia.


  7. I always enjoy your black and white pictures, Marian. So genuine, and such touching reminders of pictures from my grandmother’s family. And, well, I just have to applaud your Corn Sex lesson. I knew those silks were for something. πŸ˜‰


    1. I’m guessing our mothers asked us both to pull off those corn silks so they wouldn’t interfere with our eating corn on the cob. I know mine did. Until I read this article, I was clueless too about the absolute necessity of those sticky tendrils. Ha!


  8. I grew a corn on the cob once , yes you heard right , I grew one corn on the cob and that was dried up . I think I’ll stick to runner beans they are easier to grow.
    When the better weather arrives here in the UK and we get our barbies out I invairibly throw a corn on the cob on . They look pretty on the plate and taste really good I .
    This week I cooked a delicious summer garden soup and I put fresh corn in with an assortment of seasonal veg …super ( I think there’s a pun hanging around there) with grated cheese and crusty bread .
    Loved to read about the history of corn in your county , it’s so interesting .


    1. Leave it to you, Cherry, to have interesting variations on whatever theme comes up here. I think my readers like your “take” on the topics too – and always with a touch of humor. Enjoy that corn and beans. Thanks for showing up here often.


  9. Marian β€” Even though I’m a day late, the smile on my face is just as big as if I’d enjoyed your post yesterday!

    I only know two things about corn: (1) I love it roasted on the grill and then slathered in butter, and (2) my mom always said, “The best tasting corn is knee high by the 4th of July!”


    1. You are never late, Laurie. Unlike corn, this post will “keep” as long as my WordPress platform holds together. Your # 1 thing I heartily agree with. As for # 2, I guess it depends where you live. I see some PA people eating corn on the cob now on Facebook, probably an early variety. Idaho is known for it’s potatoes, and I suspect for corn too. This is your year to try it out – happy eating, Laurie.

      Thanks for the comment – and the sweet tweet!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love corn on the cob. We eat it with mayonnaise lime grated parmeson cheese and cayenne pepper – oh sooo good for those who love spicy foods. Here they sell them on every corner in Chicago. I make them at home but not often. I love baked corn casserole. And at times with plain butter. We have a French market on the weekend in Wheaton where farmers sell their vegetables. Nothing better than fresh.


    1. I believe it would take courage to bite into corn on the cob with the condiments you list here, but I’d take a chance. Lime and cheese with cayenne pepper – wow! You must have had corn on the cob at Mom’s when your children were young. Best wishes on the Quinceanera coming up soon.


  11. Ah corn! I described how much we loved “roastin’ ears” this way in BLUSH: “The first corn of the season was especially conducive to ecstasy. We seldom talked when we ate it. Instead, we listened to the sounds of satisfaction all around us, a veritable symphony of jaws, teeth, and mouth all moving in a kind of rhythm. The littlest children needed help, so Mother would take a sharp knife and slice off the kernels. Then, moving against the grain, she pressed the knife all the way down the shaft of the cob, leaving a little pool of sweet corn milk at the bottom of the plate. When we cleaned the table after a meal featuring corn, my mother would sometimes be amazed to find six large, cleanly denuded cobs on my plate.”

    Thanks for introducing me to Neruda’s food poetry! The comments on this post are great, as usual.


  12. Your description in this passage is so vivid I recalled it all except the part about the “six large, cleaned denuded cobs” on your plate.

    It takes time and finesse to write about all of those shimmering images from days gone by, I’m learning. Thanks always for your visits here.


  13. Neruda wrote about corn? Corn and America and how plants make a civilization? What a find! Thank you for your corn memories. Here are a few of mine. I think of Grandma’s delicious corn picked from her garden in Missouri when the pot on the wood stove (yes, she cooked with wood, even in Missouri summer heat) was already boiling. When my kids lived at home, I grew three kinds each year–early yellow, midseason bicolor, and Silver Queen, late season white. I don’t grow corn anymore, but buy a few ears along the roadside, especially Silver Queen in early September.


    1. My mother favored Silver Queen and I can picture the pearly white teeth of the grain as I tap here on the keys. Like you, I have first-hand knowledge of corn growing and the joys of harvest that follow. Thank you for the shimmering image of the cooking corn pot.

      Yes, Neruda wrote an Ode to Maize. Some time ago I published a post with his full-length Ode to Tomatoes; here’s the link to the poem. Quite a Renaissance man, that Neruda.


  14. Many memories attach to corn, Marian. We marveled at the Corn Palace some 40 years ago on a road trip to Montana. We stopped again last year and were disappointed that the inside was no longer a museum, but rather was filled with shops. All merchandise was corn related, but still shops.

    We froze and canned corn every year when I was growing up. I remember it being one of the hottest canning tasks of the summer since Mom blanched the corn before we cut it off the cobs. I rejoiced when my mother-in-law came up with a recipe for freezing corn that eliminates the blanching step and results in corn that tastes as fresh as just picked.


    1. Yippee for your mother-in-law! My childhood memories of doing up corn were like yours – hot, hot, and usually on a hot day. After I left home, corn freezing came to be in vogue.

      I suspect our childhoods were very similar, mine without cows, however. Thanks for adding the update about the Corn Palace here too, Carol.


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