Saturday, August 2, 2008

Oh what a beautiful morning

I am not generally a morning person.

I remember fondly the Saturday mornings of my college days, sleeping in until 11 or noon. Waking up and meandering down to the kitchen of the sorority house to eat leftovers and cereal, hearing about various drunken college antics of the night before.

Even after I graduated college and moved to where we live now, it was a rare weekend morning the hub and I were up before 10. Obviously we got up on time (mostly) during the week to be ready for work, but on the weekends all bets were off.

Inexplicably, this pregnancy has rendered me unable to sleep past 6 am. Now that I resemble a small whale, it's discomfort (and having to pee every few hours) that keeps me from sleeping any later. But even before I was massively huge, I would often wake up before the alarm went off around 6 and have limited success with going back to sleep.

I actually really like mornings. The coolness of the air before the sun has hit full strength, the melodic chirping of the early morning birds, the dewiness of the grass. It really is beautiful. It's just so darn early.

Because I was already up, I decided to meander down to the local downtown farmer's market this morning.

This was the first farmer's market they'd been able to have since the first weekend of June due to the devastating flooding that occurred in our city, and major parts of the Midwest, this summer, and I was really looking forward to going.

I like farmer's markets, but I get so overwhelmed with everything (produce! flowers! handmade crafts! wine!) along with the crowds that I browse quickly and leave once I've made my purchases. I was also pressed for time today because the hub needed our fuel-efficient diesel Jeep (more fuel-efficient than his massive truck, anyway) to drive down to a softball tournament, so I had to be back by the time he needed to leave.

I had two things in mind when I went to the market: sweet corn and muskmelon.

Because of the flooding, it's been an off year for crops. An extremely wet spring led to late planting. Then, with all the flooding in May and June, a good number of acres were flooded out and either had to be replanted or switched to a different crop. Normally, the sweet corn would be ready in mid-July, but we're just now starting to see the roadside stands of sweet corn and other produce.

I saw the stand I wanted to by from right away when I entered the farmer's market, but I figured I'd wait until I was ready to leave so I wasn't lugging around two heavy bags while I did my power browsing.

I saw some gorgeous jewelry, cute handmade crafts, delicious home-baked goods, and I even purchased a small bottle of all-natural bug repellent. I finally made my way back to the chosen stand and got my melon and corn.

Muskmelon. Yum! This is what we call a Muscatine melon because it's grown in the sandy soil of Muscatine Island. They're traditionally larger and sweeter than the muskmelon in stores. This melon is about the size of a slightly oblong soccer ball (and this was a medium one!). I wasn't a huge fan of muskmelon growing up, but now, I love it (as does the kiddo, you should see him pack it away!) This baby was a mere $3.

and corn:
Okay, so the corn isn't as exciting because it's, well, corn, and everyone knows what corn looks like. A lot of stands at the market were selling a hybrid called "honey & cream." It's a super sweet hybrid where some kernels are yellow and some are white (as opposed to being all yellow with other hybrids). This wasn't marked as such, but they few ears they had shucked had the mottled coloring, so I'm assuming it's the same, or a similar sweet hybrid. It was $5 for a baker's dozen.

Dad and his brothers would occasionally plant a few acres of sweet corn every couple years, but generally they kept their acres in field corn and soybeans. There were plenty of farmers and stands around my hometown where you could pick your own, though, so we were never lacking for sweet corn in the summer.

Aside: did you know you never boil sweet corn in salted water? It makes the kernels tough. Boil them in plain or sugared water instead.

Anywho, growing up, we'd have our big ol bag of a few dozen ears of corn, pick out the ones we were going to cook for supper that night and sit on our back steps to shuck, listening to the buzz of cicadias. I was a stickler for getting out as much of the silk as possible because I hated the feeling of it getting stuck in my teeth. When we were done, we'd walk 50 yards out to the feedlot and give the cattle the husks. I'm not really sure if we were always supposed to do this, but we did anyway. And then we'd have fresh sweet corn for supper. Yum!

Note: the hub's favorite way to butter sweet corn is to butter a slice of bread and then run the still-warm sweet corn over the bread. Bonus, he gets to eat the bread afterwards. I usually just take either a knife or fork, load it with butter and then run that over the ear. Either way works, you just want to make sure you get the ear nice and buttery.

Once a summer mom would buy 5-6 dozen ears and we'd freeze corn for the winter. I'll have to share about that some other time.

1 comment:

kmm0305 said...

On my side of the state its called "peaches and cream". ;)