It’s mid-afternoon and off in the kitchen I hear the play-by play of a Giants baseball game coming from the bake-lite radio on the counter near the stove and the faint roar of the crowd when the Giants get on base. Grandma hums while she works. It’s the smell, however, that draws me in. I can envision the freshly hewn corn stripped of its protective layers and its juicy kernels headed for the butter in one of her well-worn saucepans. All her pots and pans are so worn none are level on the bottom and rock around on the burner as their contents cook.
It’s not long before I am seated at the Formica kitchen table, the plastic seat covers sticking to my legs, sweaty from summer outdoor play. My grandma often cooked delicious food I wasn’t given at home like gooey baked goods, scrumptious noodle casseroles, and my favorite, creamed corn.
There must be a cabillion recipes for creamed corn and nearly all of them contain sugar. As a diabetic, I try to avoid sugar (unless it’s in something as overwhelmingly tempting as a piece of cheesecake that I simply can’t resist). Corn is one of the starchiest of starches. An ear of corn contains six to eight grams of sugar or approximately two teaspoons of granulated sugar, which is way too much for my glucose levels.
Chemistry aside, I love corn, and I’ve learned to love it best when it tastes more savory than sweet. I prefer creamed corn the way my grandmother made it, and I have great memories of her making it just for me. When I think of the non-sweet version of creamed corn, I can see her, paring knife in hand, slicing kernels off the cob into the bubbling butter in the wobbly pan. She’d use the dull side of the knife to scrape corn cob juices into the pan as well. Then she’d add cream and plenty of salt. As a sort of thank you, I’d wrap my tiny arms around her from the side as she stood at the stove, and bury my face into her hip, fingering the apron, tied around her grandmotherly waist, the apron being so soft from a million washings.
To this day, I’ve never tasted creamed corn quite like Grandma’s. Oh, how I wish I’d gotten her recipe for this savory starch that spoke of her love for me. None of my attempts to replicate her dish have come close. She probably used at least one ingredient that was added straight from her heart.
Antonia Albany is a writer and blogger who lives in Northern California with her husband and three-legged cat. Antonia’s work has appeared in Tiny Lights, Sonoma County Update, TheSeniorPlanet.com, and the Oprah Magazine.