Sow There! 7-23-15 How to cook corn without heating up the kitchen

Jerry Bonds handles some corn from the secret stash Saturday at the farmers market in Chico. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record
Organic corn is also sold at the Saturday farmers market, while in season. People often tear through the husks to see how the corn looks. The task is not needed and will actually decrease the freshness. Chances are, if its organic, you will find a worm. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record

Something about corn screams summer. Of course, there are other noteworthy seasonal fruits and vegetables — watermelon, pumpkins, cranberries and peaches. Each deserves their own festival weekend and a crowned princess.

Food adoration is a popular trend.

If you’re into peaches you just missed the Marysville peach festival. However, you can still make it to the Kelseyville Pear Festival, Sept. 26.

There really aren’t that many pear groves remaining in Lake County. However, that doesn’t stop anyone from dressing up in pear costumes.

Paradise, for example, is down to just one remaining apple orchard, Noble Orchards, and that doesn’t keep anyone from celebrating Johnny Appleseed Days, Oct. 3 and 4 this year.

California doesn’t have many corn festivals.

I looked it up.

Even an event long-held in Brentwood has been renamed the “Harvest Time Festival.”

Locally, we have the California Nut Festival in April.

I’m surprised we don’t have a local rice festival. I’m thinking Lundberg Family Farms could pull off an event. They could hire me to book entertainment. I might also invent new ways to throw rice ritualistically, rather than as punishment to young lovers.

Bryce Lundberg could have a special booth to promote fava bean jewelry and there could be festive games like rice cake disc golf and mallard duck egg hunts.

Food-specific festivals are fairly common and proof that if you get a lot of people thinking about the same idea, the idea gets kind of wacky.

Vermontville, Michigan, has a Maple Syrup Festival that includes the town’s trademark maple syrup cotton candy.

This weekend is the Gilroy Garlic Festival, where this year Tom and Stacy Davenport will renew their wedding vows. The couple are the winners of the Garlic Dream Wedding, which will include garlic bouquets and boutonnieres.

A lot more could be said about food festivals, however, I have some important and useful information to share about corn.

Last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Jerry Bonds, who will turn 85 this August and has been selling at the Chico Farmers Market for almost as long as the market has been in town. The occasion was the 35-year birthday for the Saturday market.

Jerry wasn’t selling corn last weekend, but he keeps a stash of the golden ears tucked among his other veggies.

I felt like a pampered princess when he picked out a few cylindrically shaped vegetable units and placed them in my market shopping bag.

Jerry recalled a Sow There! column from “just a few years ago,” where I talked about people who jab their fingers into corn kernels to make sure they’re fresh.

I looked it up. That column was in 2005.

The poke and squirt mode is a lot of fun, however Jerry explained that pulling back the silk will degrade the freshness of the ear of corn in no time.

Organic corn will almost always have a corn earworm near the tip of the ear. Jerry said this is normal, and the caterpillars can easy be cut off with a knife. I love a great ear of fresh corn, however, I hate boiling water in the middle of summer. Usually if I go to the trouble of making corn, I’ll make eight ears at a time. We’ll gorge that night and add fresh corn to salad and salsa for the rest of the week.

Jerry’s grandson, Jason Shirley, said the easiest way to make corn, without causing your cooling bill to spike, is to cook corn in the microwave.

Without unwrapping the husk or silk inside, wrap the corn in a dampened paper towel. Microwave for three minutes. The silk and husk will easily pull away.

Jason also grills corn outdoors, silk and all. You know when the corn is done when the outside husk is crispy. Before eating, you’ll need to let the ear cool a bit, so you can cut away the inevitable worm.

Those nice folks at the Glenn County Master Gardener program are at it again. This time it’s a workshop all about drought — how to mulch, finding an irrigation balance, taking out your lawn and choosing drought tolerant plants.

The free workshop is 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Willows Public Library, 210 N. Lassen St.

No registration needed. Just show up and be prepared to take notes.

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