Larry Ressler’s cornmeal.
I met Larry over a year ago. He was a new co-op producer—selling eggs and smoking wood—and was visiting co-op pick-up sites to meet his customers. We chatted and he asked what unmet demand there was in the co-op. Besides the typical needs at that time—produce, chicken, and bacon—I mentioned cornmeal.
Later he wrote to let me know he planted meal corn. He periodically dropped a line updating me on the corn’s progress. In late June he lamented his corn was 6 inches tall, while his conventional-farmer-neighbor’s corn was 6–8 feet tall. By September his corn was catching up: “It’s as big as an elephant’s eye (or something like that),” he said.
In late February Larry’s cornmeal was ready. He sent me about one pound of finely ground cornmeal. It was a precious gift; I knew how much effort, thought, and consternation went into it.
This year Larry is growing about three times more corn than he did last year. Let’s wish him luck to endure this crazy weather and persevere against hungry raccoons.
Here’s what I made with the cornmeal:
I made one of my favorite desserts, cornmeal cobbler. This time I made it with some apples I canned last year. But I’ve made this cobbler many times: with blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and pears. You can add different spices to the cobbler batter to complement the fruit you’re using. For instance, I added cardamom when I made the pear cobbler.
I made polenta, which I baked on top of sautéed kale and roasted red peppers. Cold polenta forms a firm loaf, so I sliced the refrigerated leftovers, pan-fried the slices, and topped them with Om Gardens mushroom gravy.
I also experimented with a lemon berry cake recipe. I really liked the dense, lemony, cake-like topping that soaked up the juices from the cooked strawberries. When cooked, the batter forms a nice crisp glaze on top. This cake gets baked in a pie plate. (Disregard the springform pan in the photo. That was a bad idea.)
Lemon Berry Cake
:: 3 c strawberries, hulled and sliced (any type of berry will do)
:: 1 3/4 c sugar, divided
:: 1 c melted butter, cooled
:: 3/4 c flour
:: 1/4 c cornmeal
:: 1/2 t lemon extract
:: 2 eggs
Put sliced strawberries in a pie plate. Stir in 1/4 c sugar. In a medium-size mixing bowl combine the remaining 1 1/2 cup sugar with the melted butter, flour, cornmeal, lemon extract, and eggs. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly on top of strawberries. Bake for 40 minutes at 350˚.