"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

THE GARDEN GOURMET--March 2008

There are many joys inherent to gardening--and some setbacks--but generally speaking the good times roll from the time peas and the early root veggies come on to first frost the plusses outweigh the minuses.

The early rooters reach maturity earlier, so it makes sense that they should be first in the earth.

“First in, first out!” my father, the late Jacob Wesley Scifres, used to say in the early spring, when we were planting early veggies, and again when they were harvested for the table a scant month or 40 days later.

 There were some veggies that always spelled trouble, but he stayed with them in planning and planting. We never seemed to do well with sweet corn, for example. But the four or five rows of corn always anchored the garden and it always produced roasting ears very poorly.

Fortunately, Mel Ballard, a nearby Tampico farmer with a very green thumb, would drive his horse-drawn wagon to Crothersville with veggies of all kinds (including watermelons) to make the resident rounds twice a week. And though our garden produced many veggies, Mel’s melons and corn were always welcomed on our kitchen table.

Incidentally, I once worked for a newspaper that had a columnist imbued with the notion that to be really good, tasty food sweet corn had to be jerked from the stalk and minutes later plopped into boiling water.

“Hogwash!” I told him every year when he ran his fresh-corn column. He thought I was some kind of nut (maybe I was, and am), but in today’s modern world there are as many ways to prepare sweet corn for the table as there are Heinz Soups or English sparrows on my bird feeding station.

(Note: Contrary to popular feeling, I rather like--and favor--my little covey of English sparrows--and the plethora of others. The song sparrow sits high and sings its song to tell me spring is nigh, but I haven’t heard it yet.)

I submit, in this modern day, that the best way to cook corn on the cob is to microwave it. Just remove most of the shucks, and plop it into the micro for four minutes per ear. The silks will come off with the shucks when done, and butter seasoning will put one in business.

Be assured, one does not have to break a leg hastening from corn patch to micro.

If one is inclined to work a little harder, Susan Kelly, Indianapolis, tells me that if you want the really best corn, you should shave it off the cob and fry it.

Frying corn gives the dish a little extra mileage with those dining. My mother and grandmother used to serve more people by adding to the corn in their old iron skillets a cup or so of well-cooked dried beans and at the end of the frying a cup or so of good crackers, well crumbled, and a cup of finely chopped sweet onion. It is a fantastic, stick-to-the-ribs dish.

To fry corn, one must cover the bottom of the skillet with cooking agent (some bacon fryings in the oil), but don’t overdo the cooking agent.


CREAM PIE--I recently ran across a recipe for Pumpkin Cream Pie (a no-cook version) while visiting with Mrs. Kathryn Keith at my old hometown, Crothersville, in Jackson County.

On making this pie, I found it so tasty, that I would like to share the recipe in this space. It follows: 

Pumpkin Cream Pie

 Ingredients:

1 large box instant vanilla Jello pudding
1 ½ cups cold milk (condensed OK)
1 ¼ cups pumpkin pulp (fresh, cooked and pureed OK)
1 small tub Cool Whip (sugar free OK)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie mix

Procedure:

First: bake 9-inch pie shell. (Have it ready before pie is mixed.)
Second: Mix other ingredients in large bowl.
Third: Immediately, after mixing ingredients, pour them into baked pie shell.
Fourth: Refrigerate pie. It will soon set up.

Note: Kathryn believes the recipe--or slight modifications--would produce a pretty good pie with the sauce or rather thick puree of many other fruits and veggies--especially mashed sweet potatoes.


HOT TOMATO--This Beefsteak tomato from last year’s garden was photographed on a dinner plate. Eleven of the tomatoes surpassed a yardstick and ran to more than four feet, not to mention some fine “tomater” dishes.



 
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All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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