I’ve found, in my eleven years living outside of Colorado, that many people don’t imagine Colorado as a place where much food can grow. People always sound surprised when I tell them that the hardiness zone for growing fruits and vegetables in Denver is approximately the same as that of Columbus, Ohio. And while it may be impossible to grow prolific gardens in the high mountain towns, there are many areas of the state known specifically for their produce.
In fact, many of the most anticipated foods of the summer are identified by the town in which they are grown. I’ve already mentioned Palisade peaches, and that area is also a significant producer of apples, plums, and cherries. Rocky Ford melons are some of the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. Olathe sweet corn is grown so prolifically that it appears in heaping mounds at even the most basic grocery stores, not just at boutique food shops and farmers markets. And, though it’s a town in New Mexico, we always look forward to the arrival each fall of Hatch green chiles.
Green chile is a bit of a sport in the Southwest. Most natives will argue that there is NOTHING that can’t be improved by these versatile foods, whether you like your chiles mild (like me) or screamin’ hot. The smell of roasting chiles tumbling around in giant metal barrels outside every grocery store still elicits strong memories of back-to-school evening errands with my parents and anticipation for the imminent changing leaves. Interestingly, I did not like green chiles at all as a kid. It’s only now, as an adult and returning Colorado resident, that I finally appreciate the obsession.
And so, I’m on a quest to learn how to cook with green chile beyond simply sprinkling it on my eggs, my pizza, my fajitas… though those are all excellent decisions. And this quest starts with something I’m supremely comfortable with: mac and cheese! For a Colorado-autumn twist on my go-to recipe, I paired my green chile with sweet corn, another fall favorite of mine.
Finally, the corn has arrived! More than burgers, more than blackberries, more than plump red tomatoes and endless mounds of zucchini, fresh-shucked corn tastes like pure, delicious summer. Though I still love it straight off the cob, plain and warm, it’s also now one of my favorite ingredients to add to other dishes.
And it’s not just for dinner! I’ve now become quite obsessed with using corn in breakfast. In this particular one, it joints a few other mid-summer veggies (also bacon) as a really, really good hash.
We took a spectacular trip to Oregon the first couple weeks of July. We did the normal vacation things: saw beautiful sites, had outdoor adventures, met new people, and engorged ourselves on all the best food the state had to offer. One delicious meal after another, Oregon pulled out all the stops and left our bellies almost constantly full. On our last night in Portland, we ended up at Montage, a cozy little southern restaurant famous for its mac and cheese and the elaborate aluminum foil animals that enclosed their leftovers.
Their mac and cheese was really good. And the foil animals were amusing. But it was the appetizer that stuck with me: deep-fried gems of creamy corn that we ordered on a whim. I knew immediately I had to re-create them.
To be honest, I was a little unclear about what a croquette actually was. My experience at Montage, and a previous one at a restaurant in Durham, seemed to suggest that croquettes were deep-fried balls of, well, whatever one might want. Searches for recipes for “corn croquettes” led to surprisingly few results, but I eventually found a recipe with photos that somewhat resembled the ones we’d had in Oregon.
It felt like spring the latter half of this week. The sun was shining, the last of the snow that has persisted in our street for weeks has melted, and it was nice enough to wander about without a jacket. The thrill of the weather finally breaking is one of my favorite moments each season!
Perhaps associated with the first burst of warm-ish weather, I tend to also get an itch to vacation at this time of year. It might also be years of Spring Break indoctrination, but I suddenly yearn to pack my bags for some tropical adventure! Not that I actually did a lot of that growing up, but the once or twice that we did vacation somewhere warm over Spring Break were enough to permanently spark anticipation every February. Unfortunately, we have no imminent vacation plans for this spring. So! To ease my wanderlust, I’ve settled by making some charred corn salsa.
For most of my life, I’ve eaten corn one of two ways: from a can or on the cob. (And I’m talking about kernels of corn here, not the corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch, and other corn products that certainly make up most of the “corn” in the average American diet.) In the summer, there was no greater thrill than Dad bringing home a bag full of fresh Colorado sweet corn, and I still look forward to the arrival of corn on the cob every time the season rolls around.
But it’s really only in the last few years that I’ve started appreciating fresh corn as an ingredient, as something more than just a cob of kernels slathered with butter. Fresh corn has flavor and texture that give everything from pizza to fajitas a little something extra.
In this dish, corn is not just an ingredient, it’s the star of the show. With two of my other favorite veggies to support it.
With another wedding cake baked and spring semester in my rear-view mirror, I finally feel like summer has begun. No, summer isn‘t quite the same as it used to be; the three-month vistas of free time I enjoyed from age 5-22 no longer lie ahead. I’ve been nostalgic for those childhood summers lately: sleeping in, spending the day flitting about town with mom, attempting badminton on the lawn with my sister, eating dinner off the grill in the cool Colorado evenings. Bliss!
After the sun set, summer nights in our house usually involved a movie. And where there are movies, there sure as Sam was gonna be some popcorn.
Admittedly, most of the popcorn I remember eating at home was microwave popcorn, though there was also brief stint where Kelli and I found an air popper almost as entertaining to watch as whatever movie was selected for the night. I do remember, quite vividly, one attempt to pop corn on the stove and the ensuing clouds of smoke that followed when it cooked too fast and burned to a crisp. Perhaps scarred by this event, up until recently I had mentally relegated popcorn popping to the arts of yesteryear, one that I was unlikely to ever master. But then, after seeing some friends pop corn at a party — quite casually and deliciously and with no clouds of smoke, I might add — I bravely bought a bag of cheap yellow kernels and decided to give it a shot.
It turns out making popcorn is really easy. And really fast. I’m really not sure now what happened that fateful night as a child when I developed a fear of popcorn-making, but I am now here to say that if any of you have similar fears, give them up! Tonight! You can make freshly-popped popcorn with just a few kitchen tools that you already have.
Let me begin by saying that I realize the title of this post doesn’t make sense. Colorado is home to neither capes nor cod. I know.
I also know that I cooked this meal in North Carolina and cooked this meal using East Coast cod.
In addition, I have no idea what chowder from Cape Cod actual tastes like. No idea what the recipe is. So despite the fact that both my mom and grandma have been making “Cape Cod Chowder” (as is written in my grandma’s hand on a splattered recipe card) to ward off the chill of January in Colorado for my entire life, I couldn’t really call it that for fear of the wrath of proper Cape Cod residents with their own opinions on what is or is not Cape Cod Chowder.
It’s rather dizzying.
But I adore this soup. I look forward, each winter, to the stick-to-your-bones warmth provided by this hearty meal composed of relatively simple ingredients.
I try to post recipes on this site that are seasonally appropriate for my locale. There are a few oddballs, but for the most part, strawberry dishes hit in the spring, tomatoes are featured in the summer, and pumpkin treats fill the fall.
You might be wondering, then, why I’m giving you this pizza that (at least to me) screams “Summer!!” as we leave the last vestiges of autumn behind and move full-steam into the winter holiday season.
In truth, I feel a bit seasonally confused. I spent the last week in Florida with my family visiting magical places, seeing magical sights, and enjoying 70-degree weather surrounded by palm trees while Christmas carols blared from speakers across the parks.
So in celebration of this confusion, I give you this! Barbecue, Bacon, and Toasted Corn Flatbread Pizza. It’s a shout out to the last summer produce, the last summer cookout, that many of us celebrated months ago. I used the tail end of the summer’s corn to make this pizza, but you can also easily use a can of corn that has been drained.
c) corn on the cob
If you raised your hand for none of these things, I question your culinary sanity. If you raised your hand for all of these things, THIS, my friend, is a recipe for you.
Here’s how this happened. I had corn on the cob and bacon in my fridge. I recently saw a recipe for a breakfast hash featuring them, and wanted to make it immediately. Buuuuuuut I wondered: could I make it a little cake instead? Like a latke? Or wait! Even better… a pancake? Or what about a cornbread?
Then it became clear: a cornbread-y pancake (the latke idea was cast aside for another day) studded with corn kernels and bits of bacon? Couldn’t possibly be all bad.