Monday, April 15, 2013

Do You Know Cornmeal?

From the same food leaflet that gave us Friday’s Post ‘Do You Know Oatmeal?’ – the WW I booklet published in 1917 by the U.S Dept. of Agriculture for the U.S Food Administration -  I would like to give you some of the ideas for using cornmeal.

Corn comes in for a higher level of promotional enthusiasm than oatmeal. It was quite clear from the leaflet that it was not only economically and nutritionally sensible to use more cornmeal, but it is was an act of patriotism.

Do You Know Cornmeal?
Service to Your Country
Nourishing Food for You

On subsequent pages are inserted phrases such as:

Corn Saved Our Pioneers
Corn Helps us Feed the World
Corn Meal - Our Ally!

There are a number of recipes for cornbread, but I like this variation on cormeal mush or polenta – with ginger.
Corn Meal and Milk.
Do you use corn-meal mush for a breakfast food? It is both cheap and good. Cooked in skim milk instead of water it is extra fine and the food value of the dish in nearly doubled.Here is a delicious corn meal and milk dessert.

Indian Pudding.
4 cups milk (whole or skim)
¼ cup cornmeal
⅓ cup molasses
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger.
Cook milk and meal in a double boiler 20 minutes; add molasses, salt, and ginger. Pour into buttered pudding dish and bake two hours in a slow oven, or use your fireless cooker. Serve with milk. This makes a good and nourishing dessert.
Serves six.

The following recipe is not for cornmeal, it comes from a section on vegetables later in the leaflet. I am intrigued by the method – the slicing through the kernels and the scraping of the remaining half-kernels on the cob. I have never come across this before, and would be interested to know if you know it. I expected the recipe to include an egg or two, but I guess it must thicken a little as it cooks anyway, from the starch in the kernels?

Green-Corn Pudding.
This is a delicious way to serve either sweet corn or the tender field corn. A little sugar may be added to the field corn if desired.
Husk and silk 12 good-sized ears of corn. Slice off half the kernel with a sharp knife, and with the blunt edge of the knife scrape out the milky part that remains on the cob. Add a tablespoon of butter, salt, and pepper, and three-fourths of a cup of milk. Bake for 45 minutes, allowing it to brown on top. This makes a creamy dish, which is best served in the pan or baking dish in which it bakes.


Judy said...

Slicing the corn kernel off the cob and then scraping the cob is how my mother's family made creamed corn for canning.

Piet B said...

Hi, Janet -- The cut and scrape method for getting the corn off the cob is actually well known in the US. If the corn is sufficiently young (green silks) the pudding thickens without additional flour or cornstarch, although it generally won't thicken "stiff"; the result is quite delicate and delicious.

peregrine said...


The method of scraping fresh kernels from cobs of corn is common to American recipes, especially savories that use fresh corn kernels, when frozen or canned corn won't do.

I make a corn pudding almost exactly like the one you cite - I use cream instead of milk, and bake it about half an hour. For this recipe, ONLY fresh corn kernels scraped from the cob will do. Fresh corn is surprisingly sweet, and combined with salt, pepper, and cream, makes a heavenly savory pudding. Lovely as an accompaniment to roasted fowl.

peregrine said...

Following up to the comment I just left about corn pudding: I should have mentioned my location: I'm in Connecticut, New England, USA.

I sometimes add a teaspoon or so of flour to thicken the pudding, but as I mentioned, I use heavy cream instead of milk, and the cream thickens pretty well as it bakes. I spread the mixture in a shallow pan - about 1 inch or less deep. So delicious!

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher using the slice and scrape technique-- the liquid was then left to thicken slightly, and fried in butter. The result was called "corn oysters" and served with syrup. She made them from US corn (sweet, I think) that she had raised in Europe.

Shay said...

The technique of slicing through the kernels and then scraping them off the cob to make a corn pudding has shown up on a couple of trendy* food blogs recently.

(*I don't mean that disparagingly).

Cook's Magazine showcased an odd little kitchen device in an issue...this last summer?...that allows the cook to safely anchor the corn while the knife-wielding is underway. I'll have to look for it.

Mercy said...

That sounds a lot like creamed corn or cream-style corn that you can buy canned in the US --the kernels are cut up that way and the liquid is included and it has the texture described, even though there's no milk involved (in the canned version, I mean). It's got the consistency of a thinnish cream-of-whatever soup.

*sigh* That's one of the dishes I miss from my childhood that I can't get over here at all. Maybe I'll try this version if I can get some proper sweetcorn here this summer. Or if I have any after I get sick of corn on the cob (ha!).

Dave in MPLS said...

Milking a corn cob (the process described in the second part of this post) was familiar to me, although I can't remember where I've seen it before. Probably in an article promoting corn milk as a health food. Purportedly drinking it is good for ones skin.

Anonymous said...

I've seen this in a number of other places, but there it's clear that you're just opening the kernel before scraping it (perhaps to speed cooking?). This recipe almost looks like you're only using the scraped innards, but not the sliced-off parts of the kernels.

The Old Foodie said...

HI all, thanks for these comments and explanations. Corn is popular here in Aus as a vegetable eaten off the cob, or canned kernels, but I dont think we are very "adventurous" with it. I love this idea of creamed fresh corn and am definitely going to try it!