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What can you do with corn?

Although corn is a major crop in the U.S., most of it is used for animal feeds and industrial purposes. Except for corn on the cob (sweet corn), most people today eat very little of this grain, and then mainly in corn chips and corn bread.

However, corn is very versatile, as the following ideas show.

Corn meal mush

In all its many variations, this has been a staple food in many areas where corn is grown. It's not very popular today, probably because of its lack of glamour or because it's not "instant." But hungry people who don't care about glamour and have more time than money should know about corn meal mush.

The basic recipe is simple.
1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
4 cups boiling water

Combine the meal, salt and cold water, and slowly stir into the boiling water. (Mixing the cornmeal with cold water first eliminates the unappetizing lumps that often form otherwise.) Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20-25 minutes. This can be made in a double boiler to avoid scorching.

Top the mush with butter, sorghum, molasses, honey or maple syrup.

Fried mush

Pour leftover mush (or make a batch for this purpose) into a loaf pan and refrigerate overnight. When it's set, remove from pan, slice, and fry in hot oil. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Hasty pudding

For some reason the mush recipe above, when made with a total of four cups of water instead of five, is called hasty pudding.

Corn breads

A basic corn bread can be quite simple, or it can be somewhat elaborate. Here's the one that's somewhere in-between, which is a Countryside favorite.

Heat oven to 425 [degrees]. Grease a cast iron cornbread pan (or an 8 x 8 pan) and place in oven until sizzling hot. Meanwhile, combine:
3/4 cup wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt

3/4 cup corn meal
Beat in a separate bowl:
1 egg

Beat into it:
2 tablespoons soft butter
3/4 cup milk

Combine ingredients and stir lightly. We like to let this sit for a few minutes so the corn meal absorbs some of the moisture. Then spoon or pour the batter into the hot pan and bake at 425 [degrees] for about 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

When served with chili or beans, adding finely chopped hot peppers makes this corn bread more interesting. But there are many other possibilities, including adding everything from yogurt and buttermilk to onions and cheese.

Add more water to make a runnier batter rather than a dough, and this same recipe can be used to make cornmeal pancakes.

Cornmeal wafer
2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
water to make a dough (about 3/4

Combine the meal, salt and oil with a fork. Slowly add the water while continuing to stir, until the mixture can be worked with your hands. Then knead it until it can be pressed onto a greased cookie sheet, and rolled thin. (The thinner the better.) Score the wafer with a knife or pastry wheel into squares or diamonds the size you want. Put in a preheated 400 [degrees] oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325 [degrees]. After 20 minutes, further reduce the temperature to 250 [degrees]. Bake until dry and just slightly browned. Watch carefully, as these burn easily.

Tortillas are made with specially prepared corn called masa harina, a flour made from dried, lime-soaked parched (toasted) corn. Here's how to make tortillas from homegrown corn.
2 pounds corn
2 tablespoons slaked (hydrated) lime
3 quarts water

Wash the corn. Put it in the water, add the lime, and boil it until the skins of the kernels loosen. Remove from heat. When cool, rub the corn between the palms of your hands to remove the skins. Wash the corn thoroughly in cold water to flush away both the skins and the lime.

Grind the corn. You don't need a grain mill for this: use a food mill or a large mortar and pestle.

Divide the soft dough into small balls about the size of a golf ball. Work each one into a very thin round pancake. (A tortilla press is a big help here.)

Bake each one individually in a hot, ungreased cast iron skillet. It only takes a few seconds for the first side to become tinged with brown. Flip and bake the other side. Keep the finished tortillas warm by covering with a cloth until they're all done.

It takes a little practice to flatten the tortillas, to find the right baking temperature, and if using masa, to get the right consistency. But the results are worth it!


3 cups masa harina (corn flour; see
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup soft bacon grease or
2 cups broth (reserved from filling)


1 pound of meat--beef, pork, chevon,
rabbit etc.
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
bacon grease or shortening
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1-2 hot green chiles, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder

You will also need 24 clean, dried corn husks for wrappers ... although parchment paper or even aluminum foil will do. Separate the corn husks and soak them in warm water until they become soft, or overnight.

Cook the meat in salted water until it's done and tender. Drain, saying the broth. Chop or grind the meat.

Saute garlic in fat, and stir in the chiles, chile powder, cumin, 1/2 cup broth, and meat. Cook until thick, stirring constantly.

Combine the masa, salt and bacon fat in a bowl, and stir in 2 cups of broth. Knead until you get a doughlike mixture that holds together, adding more masa or water as necessary. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Flatten a corn husk on your work surface and spread about a tablespoon of dough over half of the heavy end of the husk, shaping the dough into a rectangle. Put a tablespoon of the filling in the center of the dough. Starting from the heavy end, roll the husk like a jelly roll. Just before reaching the end of the husk, fold the ends of the tamale in so the final roll or two holds everything together. This can be tied with a string or a strip of corn husk.

Repeat until all ingredients are used. You should have about 24 tamales.

Stack them on a rack above (not in) boiling water in a large kettle for about 45 minutes, or until the masa coating is firm.


This corn beverage dates back to the Aztecs and Mayans, who sometimes flavored it with chile, herbs, or chocolate.

Wash two cups of corn kernels and boil in water to cover until tender.

Drain, cool, and grind or mash with enough water to make a light dough.

Dissolve one cup of the dough in 8 cups of water. Break up or strain out lumps. Add a stick of cinnamon if you have it. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy. Add 3/4 cup sugar (or honey or maple syrup) and cook until dissolved.

These are only a few examples that show the many possibilities of corn.

Many recipes use wheat or corn

Baked beans with bulgur wheat

Vegetarians can leave out the salt pork and still have a high-protein meal. Beans and wheat combine well to meet that nutritional requirement. Bacon or ham can take the place of salt pork.
1 cup dried navy beans
1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 3-inch cube of diced salt pork
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
3 cups stock or water

Soak beans overnight in cold water, or bring them to a boil and let stand for an hour. Simmer beans until tender. In an eight-cup baking dish, combine the cooked beans and bulgur. Add chopped onion, salt pork, brown sugar, molasses, salt and dry mustard. Cover with bean liquid along with the water or stock. Bake covered at 250 [degrees] F for three to four hours, adding liquid if needed.
Corny chili
1 cup small red beans, dry
1 pound lean ground beef or venison
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
1 can tomato soup
1 cup bean liquid
1 to 3 tablespoons chili powder

Cover red beans with four cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and allow to stand for two hours. Add a dash of salt and resume heating at low temperature in a covered pot until the beans are done.

Brown ground beef or venison in a skillet, stirring in onion and green pepper once the meat is nearly cooked. Combine cooked ingredients along with tomato sauce, soup and bean liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook at low heat in a covered pot for an hour. Add liquid as needed. Add corn, chili powder, salt and pepper 15 to 20 minutes before serving and simmer briefly to allow the flavors to blend.

Baking fact: Bread and cakes swell when baking, but although they increase in volume, they lose weight through the evaporation of water. It requires two extra ounces of dough to produce a one-pound loaf of bread.

In our April, 1976 issue, a reader from Chiapas, Mexico, told of obtaining lime for making masa by gathering snails from the river and burning the shells to a powder. A handful of this was added to a pot of corn.

Or heat small pieces of limestone until red hot, drop them in water, and stir until dissolved. Use enough to make the water milky white.

Lime is sold with canning supplies.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:corn recipes
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Previous Article:Corn.
Next Article:A homesteader's guide to sprouts.

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