Thursday, June 19, 2008

Steam Is Fun

Today K got up early to go help my parents get the corn put up. My mom had been drafted into some remedial math thing at the middle school today and they didn't want the corn to go bad on the stalks before they got it put up. K went over to help pull corn from the garden before my parents went to work and the shucked and silked it before coming to get me and E. That fact that the corn ear worms didn't elicit a comment this time from K shows that she's becoming more of a country girl. The fact that she was freaked out by a cricket in the house says maybe not. Actually, she's starting to like it down here, while I merely put up with it because of practical reasons. Here's a photo of what the corn earworm (really a caterpillar) looks like. I didn't take the photo, but got it from another site.

We dropped E off at daycare and went over to the neighboring county to the canning plant to get the corn prepped for freezing. Canning plants may be a rural thing, so I'll diverge here to explain it. I'm not talking about something huge and commercial. The canning plants around here are kind of like a brew-your-own shop except they're for fruits and vegetables. They've got steam kettles, canning lines and giant pressure cookers set up on a personal scale. This is the gardener's canning plant, not the Jolly Green Giant's. They tend to be run by the local FFA Club and associated somehow with the county high school.

Getting back to the actual story, we went out to the canning plant with our laundry basket full of Silver Queen sweet corn. My parents' corn didn't turn out that productive this year for some reason. The stalks look healthy, but there just weren't that many ears and many of the ears weren't very full with many missing kernels. Usually from the amount they planted we would have gotten more than twice that many ears. At the canning plant, we dropped ears in the machine that sliced it off the cob to just nip the tops of the kernels off and then adjusted the machine and ran the cobs back through the machine to scrape the insides of the kernels out. This is the way we tend to make cream corn. We don't actually put any milk or dairy into the mix, it's just the way we take it off the cob. The starches in the internal components of sweet corn is enough to provide creaminess. All you add is salt and pepper when you cook it. My mom has these special slicing boards that do this job well, but let's just say the machine made it go much more quickly.

After that, we took the pot of corn to the steam kettles in the next room where one of the guys blanched it. Then we came back in to cool the kernels off before packing them up into freezer bags to stick in the freezer for future use. We ended up with about seven quart bags of corn.

One interesting thing is that one of the kids who helped us while we were at the canning plant was horribly burned. My first instinct was to wonder if he'd burned himself on the job. After all, the room with the steam kettles, canning line, and pressure cookers only had a dozen or so places in a 20'x20' room to be badly burned. Then I realized that despite the horrible burns (his fingers were twisted and his legs looked to be missing muscle mass) that these were old wounds. I've got to give the kid kudos for going around in shorts. I'm not even secure enough to take off my shirt and I'm just fat. I always feel uncomfortable about people with serious disfigurement, not because I fear it's catching or I'm disgusted, but because I spend too much time trying not to be a dick and look or sound like I'm disgusted, amused, or entertained by their appearances. It's kind of like being around a very attractive woman dressed in a certain manner. In both cases the person's variation from the norm draws your attention, but in both cases you don't want to be thought of as leering, especially when you aren't. The worst is when a woman wears a shirt with writing across the front. My eyes are drawn to words regardless of placement and I know that if I spend the time to read the woman's chest that she'll end up thinking I'm drooling over her boobs and think I'm a jerk. My curiosity usually turns this into a painful tug-of-war with my shyness. I know I can't even ask to read the shirt without risking the appearance of being a lecher, but I really want to know what those words say. I'm a curious person by natured. It's not the same with a guy. He's not going to question why you're reading his shirt. Only if a guy had a slogan on the fly of his pants would he wonder about why you were staring there. That's why it's nice being married. If K has a shirt that draws my attention I can read it without feeling uneasy. If she questions my reasons, I'm comfortable enough to tell her. If she assumes the wrong thing it's not like it's going to be an uncomfortable situation.

And that's correct, I equated beautiful women with burn victims. They're really just one and the same.


JustinS said...

I grew up around a kid with some severe burns like that... Apparently, when he was a wee lad, he pulled a pan full of hot grease off the stove and all over one of his legs. He was in 4th and 5th grade when I knew him, and had pig skin grafted to his wheel from just under the crotch down to about the ankle.

Still wonder if that stuff had to get replaced as he grew, or if it would stretch to accommodate him.

Oh, and like the dude you mentioned, he wore shorts all the time, too.

And I'm worried about looking too pasty.

Julie said...

How quaint that you grow your own food. They have things called stores here.

Actually, I'm kinda jealous. I have a pot of cucumbers and one of tomatoes on my back deck, but that's pretty much all we have room for.

And aren't you thankful that Juicy started writing things across women's asses. That way, they don't notice you notice.

Jacob said...

Julie: Actually, it's my parents. I didn't bother with a garden this year, although I do have beets and carrots in pots at the front of the house.

Courtney said...

Ew! Corn worm.

Meaghan said...

I'm jealous of your parents. I think we may be growing our own veggies next year, but corn won't fit.

I completely know what you mean about the words on a woman's shirt and thinking you are looking at her boobs, etc. I think some women wear those types of shirts to draw attention to that area - just some, not many. And yeah, I'm always afraid people with deformities think I'm leering at them in disgust or something, so I try to avoid looking at all.

Chris said...

I ordered a sandwich at a Chick-fil-A counter last week, and the girl who took my order had a prosthetic arm and hand. I was trying so hard not to stare, but I really wanted to observe how she did her job with the prosthetic. Mostly she just used her natural hand. Unfortunately for her, she didn't have the high-tech prosthetic with movable fingers to grip things --- pretty much just a plastic forearm and hand, from what I could tell.

Crap, I probably stared.

Mickey said...

But then by trying not to stare we end up interacting with the person differently than we would otherwise anyway. I go for eye contact, which is something I'm uncomfortable with in general.