on corn and love (aka the first one)

This week has been consuming.

I’m surrounded by summer lovers. Living in Michigan, it isn’t too hard to fall into that camp. When the snow keeps falling, when the ice destroys the roads, when the wind chills keep you inside and even waiting at the bus stop is considered a dangerous activity, people long for summer. Not me. I like watching the snow fall. I like the feel of crisp, cool air rushing into my lungs as I run on slippery streets (wearing yak tracks and having a nice, solid reason to run slowly). I like declaring “SNOW DAY,” even before my children were at school age, and we could stay in pajamas all day baking and cuddling and taking life slowly.

Summer is full. We soak up beaches, u-pick fruits, farmer’s markets, street performers, parks, splash pads, zoos, bikes. We wake up early because hey! the sun is up! We go to bed late because hey! the sun’s still up! We are warm, we are sweaty, we are burnt. Nap schedules are harder to keep, and bedtimes are near impossible (see earlier: hey! the sun’s still up!).

But there is one particular way in which summer delights me: produce. We are fortunate to live in a town with a bustling farmer’s market that is held twice a week. It is charming and friendly, with children playing keyboards and accordions and college students covering Mumford and Sons. The tamale food truck runs out of tamales almost immediately, and they’re very sorry, would you like to try a churro? Every time I walk through the market, I wonder what food adventures are waiting for me this week. I first discovered kohlrabi at this market, found out I loved goat cheese, and learned that fresh heirloom tomatoes on crusty homemade bread with a little sea salt on top is the closest thing there is to summer food perfection.  It’s true, winter doesn’t have this. Winter has roasts and stews, don’t feel bad about winter. But winter doesn’t have fresh, local, available, ripe. We eat like kings and queens (or better yet, like farmers) all summer long, and then comes winter, with “fresh” produce from countries far away and food that never comes from a grill, because who can get to the grill? It’s covered in snow.

This year, I’m setting out to change this. I bought three dozen ears of corn from the farmer’s market, and I’ve spent the last few days shucking ears, wrapping them in tinfoil, grilling them, cutting off long, thick strips of corn, separating that corn with my fingers, spreading it out on a cookie sheet, puttng it in a deep freeze, and finally, transferring it to a freezer safe container. It takes a lot of time (can I get an amen for netflix?), but as I grill and cut and separate, I think about my family in those cold winter months. I think about icicles forming on my husband’s beard while he snowblows the driveway and my four year old’s bright red cheeks after he’s sled down the hill in the backyard some 8,000 times. I think about taking the corn I spent hours preparing in August and adding it to a chicken corn chowder to feed my cold and hungry boys. I’m immensely thankful to have the time and the means to do this, to eat this way, to love this way. Surely this is not the only way to eat or love, but it’s the way that helps me feel I am giving my best to those around me.

And isn’t this what God asks of us? To show love through our individual gifts, be they ministry, or fellowship, or preserving corn (now I’m not sure this is a “spiritual gift” per se, but cut me a break here). So I plan to preserve and prepare, to embark on new food projects (next week I’m tackling homemade relish, stay tuned!), and to listen to how God whispers through canning jars and stock pots.

If you want to join me, or cook along with me, I welcome you on the journey.

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