Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Corn Scallop

The period spanning 25 years on both sides of the 20th century was one that marked a profound change in the eating habits of North Americans. This was a time when mass produced processed foodstuffs began to buckle grocers shelves. Many of the brand names and pantry staples we grew up with have their origins in this period; notably amongst many others: Kraft, Nabisco, Kellogg; Oreos, Saltines, and Campbells condensed soups. Home cooks had to learn to assimilate these products into their daily lives. Manufacturers often sponsored recipe contests urging women to come up with ways to use their goods and then published recipe booklets as marketing tools.

If you are old enough, you may remember those horrid casseroles made with condensed cream of mushroom or chicken soup, crackers, canned peas and what not that made regular and justifiably maligned appearances at the dinner table. Chances are that most of those dishes had their origins in the 30s, 40s and early 50s. Few people realise the role that these inexpensive and relatively quick types of meals played in social history. For instance, during the 2nd World War, many women had to work in the factories and fields while the men were off fighting. The advent of processed foods eased the task of feeding themselves and their children not to mention the armed forces wherever they might have been.

The recipe that follows is an example of the type of thing that would have been prepared in many North American homes in the first half of the 20th century. I have modified it to suit more modern tastes. The original called for canned creamed corn (aaaaaaagh!) but I am suggesting at the very least to use frozen organic kernels if not fresh corn in season.

Corn Scallop

3 cups of fresh cooked or frozen corn kernels (thawed)*
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp savory or oregano
pepper to taste
3/4 cup crushed whole wheat soda cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup warm whole or 2% milk

Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Beat eggs and combine with corn, seasonings and cracker crumbs. Add melted butter and fold in the hot milk. Pour into the dish and bake at 350° F for 40-45 minutes or until well set.

Serve with a salad and fresh steamed veggies.

* You can process the corn kernels briefly in a food processor if you like or leave them whole.