The first time I had dinner in an Amish home, my Amish friend Susie Riehl served us an absolutely delectable meal of baked chicken, noodles, green salad, homemade bread, and buttered corn. Susie also made a layered Jell-O dessert in fluted glasses, one for each of us.
The whole meal reminded me of my growing up years where home cooked meals were a daily occurrence and good food was as much about love as it was about satisfying our hunger. Like the Amish, we canned and put up and stored the harvest every autumn to prepare for the coming winter.
The corn at Susie Riehl’s table brought back a very distinct and fond memory for me. Growing up, we never ate corn from a can if we could help it. It was tasteless and watery. We only ate the corn we had processed and frozen ourselves in what we affectionately came to call “Corn Day.”
Every year we froze bushels and bushels of corn. The bags took up half the space in our freezer.
The first job on corn day was to scrub out the bathroom tub—yes the bathroom tub—and fill it with ice water. Soon after that, my uncle would show up with a pickup truck full of un-shucked corn. My mom, my aunt, my sisters, and I all had a specific job. Mom boiled two huge pots of salt water on the stove while my sisters and I shucked corn. It was an amazing amount of corn to shuck.
Once the corn was shucked, we blanched it in one of Mom’s boiling pots. Then one of us was assigned to take the steaming hot corn into the bathroom and dump it into the bathtub full of ice water. Once the corn was cool enough to handle, one of the older sisters took it from the tub and cut the corn off the cob, being careful not to get a finger chopped off. One of the younger sisters put the cut corn into a freezer bag and twist-tied it closed.
Those days of putting up corn are some of my best memories of time spent with my family.
Work brought us closer together.
Here is my aunt’s easy recipe for corn chowder. It’s made with evaporated milk, so it’s not as thick or fattening as chowder made with cream.
2 T. butter
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
1 ½ cup raw potatoes, cubed
2 cups frozen corn
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 ½ cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
½ tsp. thyme
3 cups evaporated milk
In a medium saucepan melt butter, add onions and celery, and cook until onions and celery are tender. Add all other ingredients but the milk. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add milk. Heat through and serve.
Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014. Visit JenniferBeckstrand.com for recipes, upcoming events, and news about books and giveaways.