Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why We Love Our Farmers' Market / Corn Roast

A local tv station did a story about some vendors trying to pull a fast one with the "local" tag.  The story begins at the Matthews Community Farmers Market, where Miss Chef and I shop and volunteer.  In fact, you can even see Miss Chef in the background when they introduce Pauline Wood, the market manager.  (Miss Chef's wearing a kerchief and, I guess, writing a check or something.  We didn't even know she was on tv, since we don't watch it...I just found out about this story at the market this morning and watched it online this afternoon!)

How do you know it's really local?

The rest of this post is my report on today's big event at the Matthews market: the annual corn roast.

Matthews Community Farmers' Market is supposed to have a corn roast every July.  Unfortunately, all but one year since we've moved here, it had to be canceled due to lack of...corn (climate change, anyone?).  As a result, this year was my first chance to enjoy the event, and it's about ding-dang time!  Growing up in Ohio, with corn in my backyard and on every farmstand in the county, I developed a passion for fresh, tender corn on the cob.

Chef Joe is the traditional Roaster of the Corn, and he asked Miss Chef to be his Assistant Roaster.  Since I knew I'd be there the duration of the event, I emailed Pauline and offered to volunteer.  (Our attendance at the market has become irregular, so we're no longer on the official volunteer list.)

She asked me if I could be there at 7:30 to help shuck the corn.  Heck yeah, I love shucking corn!  I know, I'm not quite normal.

When we arrived, the grill was cold, but the corn was waiting.

There was more, but this was enough to get us started...I think I heard someone say we started with 180 ears.  Three of us started shucking, then another couple of volunteers showed up, and a couple of what I affectionately call Market before you knew it, we had lots of hands at work!

We filled two hip-high garbage cans with husks.  The funny thing was the farmers were all asking us if they could have the husks!  Pigs, chickens, compost...they are a valuable commodity.  We even set the silks aside for a vendor who makes soaps.  Apparently the silica in them is good for the skin.  It made me very happy to see everything being recycled back into the market.

It seemed like no time before the ears were shucked and the grill was just about ready.  Miss Chef and Chef Joe loaded up the grates...

...while the knowledgeable ones sat patiently waiting.  These are all Market Kids...the next generation of farmers.

It took awhile for the first line to form, but there was a steady business for the next three hours. Customers paid $2 an ear, and it was garnished with one of Chef Joe's special butters: plain, herb, sun-dried tomato, chili-lime or truffle.

Everywhere you looked, people were gnawing on ears of corn, with looks of pleased amazement.  "This is delicious!" we heard, over and over.  'Cause it was.

When I say "everyone," yeah, I mean everyone.  Even the vendors found time to stop by for an ear or two.

In case you're wondering, I had two--herb butter and sun-dried tomato, which was a great, fun flavor.  I hear the truffle butter was pretty dang good, too.

As the supply of corn began to dwindle, I noticed Chef Joe had somehow procured a few steaks from Baucom's Best.   When the last four ears were sold, the next thing I knew, the steaks were on the grill--followed quickly by some squash Miss Chef bought from Hinson farm, which Chef Joe seasoned with some of the leftover butter.

He somehow talked someone out of a few eggs, for that extra-special something...

With some of the overdone corn, a little focaccia from Chef Charles and a fresh tomato, we suddenly had a picnic on our hands!

The market was tearing down and packing up all around us as we stood around the table sharing a true community meal.  Any of the volunteers or farmers who stopped by were offered a bite or two.  Miss Chef even ran a forkful of steak over to the beef farmer who'd raised it, as he was ready to drive off in his truck!

And that's why they call it a Community Farmers Market.


  1. Love that roasted corn.
    All that produce from within 50 miles is impressive. Within 50 miles of here, it'd be pickly pear hips and ... gee, that's about it.

    1. I suppose out west, "local" has to be expanded a bit. But I bet you'd be surprised to find out how much you can get within your own state!

  2. Wow that "local strawberry" sign was crap. She should get a hefty fine.

    1. It's not her, she's just an employee (I recognized them as a huge vendor with about 3 times the space as any other). She probably has a supervisor who said, "Just put the damn sign up." The moral here is caveat emptor!

  3. Sounds like a great way to spend the day. I love fresh corn. Growing up in Maryland, the Silver Queen corn reined! Not a fan of blackened/burned corn, but I can eat it plain without any butter...and without it even being cooked! Mmmm!


    1. This was Silver King...apparently there's a whole Silver family of corn hybrids. We mostly ate around the black spots. :)

  4. Oh my-- You brought back childhood memories. I LOVED to go to the annual corn roast and have corn slathered in butter. It was my idea of paradise.

    This one looks FANTASTIC! now my mouth is watering.

    xo jj

    1. I hear they have corn in California... ;)


Thanks for dropping by--please share your thoughts!

"Every time we get comment mail, Rosie wags her tail!" (Seriously, you should see that puffy thing go.)