Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day musings

and Mothers' Day past
And I am a mother. I am a mother of the type who could do without the holiday, viewing it as a Hallmark- invented day. My children (or as someone once said, “I don’t have children, I have adults”) are located a distance away so the day is not really significant for me. That said, I have fond memories of, as an adult, spending the day with my mother in celebration. And, if truth be known, also have fun and amusing memories of my children doing the breakfast in bed thing when they were maybe 5, 6 years old. Thoughts of those times still make me smile; undercooked sausage, overcooked eggs, soggy toast. Like recipes, those experiences are more than the sum of their parts. There is great joy in the memories.
Moms are not supposed to cook on Mother’s Day as we are to be treated ceremoniously. This has less impact when kids are grown and cooking becomes pretty optional anyway. Still, dinner out is the tradition. I believe that Mother’s Day is the biggest restaurant day of the year, just behind Valentine’s Day.

A couple of weeks ago at the actual holiday for one moment I thought of doing some cooking. There are some recipes that come to my attention that just don’t feel appropriate for the two of us alone. Too much food, or fat and calories, or perhaps that amounts to the same thing. But recipe curiosity requires an occasion to share the dish, and here it was. Mother’s Day and a family get together. The plan was to go to Steve’s mom’s house and have a celebration there. I originally thought to help in the preparation and offered to make a dish -the new recipe!

It was not the sort of thing that I normally could get excited about. Maybe it was just the challenge. I already have a corn pudding recipe that I have in the past verbally slighted because it seems so ordinary. Yet, everyone who has ever tasted it loves it. It’s very popular, and I like popularity as much as the next person.

But corn pudding is not something I look for yet more versions of.
However, in reading a recent book, a food memoir The Gastronomy of Marriage; a memoir of Food and Love by michelle Maisto, I came upon her corn pudding recipe, with the explanation of how effortless it was. Then, coincidentally while still reading the book, I was visiting with friend Dina, and mentioned the recipe from the book, upon which she said “oh, that’s like the corn casserole recipe I have” and sure enough, it was similar except for the addition of sour cream and a few small differences. So now I have a conundrum; which one to try, if either? Well, it was clear to me that I needed to try both just to compare. Mother’s day seemed like the ideal These days we frequently spend a holiday like this with Steve’s mom, who is still going relatively strong at the age of 92. In years past it has been an occasion to take her out to dinner. Never on the actual day though, we try to celebrate the day or so prior to avoid the crowds and the “special” menu. This year she and sister Therese decided to have a family dinner at her house which really makes sense.

Then, as it turned out, events precluded me from making either one for the occasion. I did not, however, take this as a sign that there were too many things working against this dish and to just give up on it. No, it just seemed to me that this recipe must be made in its new incarnation and it appears to be a weeknight treat just for Steve and I. Steve actually likes the original corn pudding because as I said, everyone does. Really, when I think of it something that is this basic probably should be a weeknight meal.

So even though I first became intrigued by the idea of the “jiffy”version through the book and therefore could have done the Gastronomy of Marriage recipe , I decided to try my friend Dina’s first on a recent Tuesday evening. It was, shall I say, interesting. Actually it was pretty easy and a little more substantial than my original corn pudding. Was it better? Or better enough to throw my original recipe aside and switch loyalty? No. But it is basic and good. I imagine that if these versions were the first I had tried I might be more enthusiastic about them.

Aunt Bev's Corn Casserole from Dina

Preheat oven to 400
1 can whole kernel corn*
1 can cream style corn
1 box "Jiffy" corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream
½ stick butter, melted

Mix the corn, sour cream, melted butter, and finally add the muffin mix until just combined

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30- 45 minutes.

A casserole dish turns out like a souffle; an 8 x 11 pan turns out somewhat firmer. (Annie, I use the casserole dish)

(* I used 16 oz pkg frozen whole kernel corn, thawed)

Corn pudding from the Gastronomy of Marriage

2 eggs
16 oz can whole kernel corn
1 16 oz. can cream style corn
1 box "Jiffy" corn muffin mix
1/2 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl beat the eggs and then add the corn, creamed corn, butter and muffin mix. Stir until just combined.

Bake in 8” X 8” dish for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Either or all appropriate for Memorial Day/long weekend celebration.

Remember and enjoy
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