A Corn Tale…and some other foods



My grandfather was a man of many skills. A “jack of all trades”, if you will.

One of his talents was gardening.

I grew up with fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, watermelon. And corn. Rows and rows of corn that I was taught how to pick off the stalk when the silk at the top had turned just the right color.

Not only did I learn how to pick corn, but I also learned how to pick green beans…and tomatoes… I was not allowed to carry the watermelons. (“I carried a watermelon?” Two points for you if you get that reference…) Anyway, not allowed…because I might drop them and break them and watermelons were money. My grandpa was the guy at the corner gas station selling his watermelons out of the back of his pickup truck.

And I do not care what you say, these “seedless” watermelons that the government has created, probably with secret transmitters housed inside to record our very DNA so that they can clone us and create a brand new underground society after we meet our demise of some origin of their choosing…yeah, THOSE watermelons? Well they are POOP compared to a home-grown, dare I say it?, FULLY SEEDED watermelon.

We always had an abundance of fresh watermelon straight from the back field during the summers that we rode in on the back of trailer hooked up to the tractor…and we sat at my granny’s redwood benches in the backyard, each with a quarter of a melon, a knife, and a salt shaker.

Cause that’s how you eat watermelon. With salt. T

hese days, I don’t always pull out the Morton’s when I’m nomming on some watermelon, but if I were at your house and you offered me a salt shaker when you sliced up that melon in little heart shaped bite-sized pieces, I would accept…knowing in my heart, that we were kindred spirits.

Every summer, when I bring home the first, not-as-good-as-granddaddy’s, watermelon, I always tell the same story.

“Did you guys know that my granddaddy—-”

In bored unison, they finish, “—used to sell watermelons out of the back of his pick up truck.”

To which I reply, “APPRECIATE IT, CHILDREN! IT’S YOUR HERITAGE!” Or something like that.

Along with knowing how to hug a watermelon while you’re riding it out of the fields on a trailer, I learned how to snap green beans over a big white enamel bowl that had a red thin line around the top. And a little rusted out hole on the bottom. These days, you would NEVER, EVER use a bowl with a rusted spot. I’m pretty sure that whatever problems I may have now did not originate with that rusted bowl. Heck, it was probably even painted with lead paint.

And I learned the fine art of shucking corn and removing their silk tassels…and inevitably, some of those little strings would get left behind all throughout the rinsing and cooking part of preparation. And that corn was served with a, GASP!, silk string or two on it! To us, that was just what corn looked like.

My kids would take one look, declare it a worm or some other parasite and decide they were never touching corn ever again.

One day, having realized that my kids have really only seen corn come out of bags from the freezer, I decided to grab some unshucked corn at the grocery store and bring it home so that they could experience the joys of a “corn-shucking party” just like I used to on a summer morning on the carport.

That’s right, y’all. I said CARPORT.

I lived in a ranch style house, across from a cornfield, with a CARPORT.

Kenny Chesney would write a song about me. Maybe he already has.

But about that corn….so I grab five ears of the unshucked, silky topped beauties and bring them home.

And do you know what my son said?

“Mom! What are THOSE?!”

Good heavens. Granddaddy, I’m just so sorry. I don’t even have words for this atrocity against generations of farmers. Please forgive me while I do my penance amongst the green bean and okra vines.

So, that day, Jack and I shucked some corn together. He called it, “cleaning corn” which seems pretty accurate, I suppose.

And when it finally came time to eat corn, he ate heartily. I’d like to think that it was because HE had helped to prepare it.

But it was probably just because he’s a boy. And he eats…A LOT. The idea of the war that will commence between him and the pantry during the teenage years frighten me.

All of that to say, our new home has some space for a garden. And if it doesn’t frustrate me too much to try to coerce forth a few tomatoes and some squash, I might give it a go next spring and just HOPE that I inherited my grandfather’s green thumb.

My kids need to see more “homegrown/ homemade” stuff. Now, please do not mistake this post for an “I’m never buying Cheetos or Oreos again! All organic, all homemade, all the time!”…cause Heaven knows that I love me some good ole processed-the-heck-out-of doughnuts with white, refined sugar.

I just mean a little return to the roots so that I don’t have “those kids” that think green beans come out of a can.

Which, for the most part, around here they do.

Or that Rice Krispie treats come out of a box, individually wrapped.

Honest to goodness, I made a pan of Rice Krispie treats one day. And you would have thought I had turned into Willy Wonka with the amount of excitement and sheer awe that Caia expressed at the “one giant Rice Krispie treat! In a pan! Mom! These taste just like the REAL ones in the blue packages!”

Oh for the love of Snap, Crackle,and Pop…no.



  1. Terri says

    oops, just in case you weren’t sure, that last comment was from me…didn’t know my fake name would show up

  2. Cornelius says

    After you shuck the corn, you have to let the corn cob dry and have yourself a good ole corn cob battle :)

  3. Carrie says

    Yes, just yes. 1. Did we share a grandfather? Obviously not because mine was the only one allowed to pick the corn because he knew that got him out of the shucking/cutting/putting away. :-) 2. I love Seattle Summers except for we have little to no growing season. I miss vegetable suppers…does it count they were all breaded and fried? 3. A new house? For the love of all things woman, use some of that free time you have now and CALL ME to catch up. I <3 you! Thanks for instilling a love of fresh corn into your boy…and for making a BIG Rice Krispie square for Caia. :-)

  4. Elisabeth says

    OMG Annette, that is hilarious and oh so true!! I feel like our kid’s generation is really missing out! Now we live in Illinois, so we have lots of fields around here, and my kids do see those fields of corn and soybeans. We also have apple and peach orchards and we take the kids there to pick stuff, but for some reason, and I don’t know what it is, it just doesn’t feel the same as when I was a kid. We have had a garden the past few years and have grown lots of stuff and I am so glad my kids get to experience that up close and personal, I bet your kids will love it too!!