Cabin Cooking Tips

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Tip 1: Get some corn-on-the-cob and a large pot for which you have a tight fitting top. Husk the corn while you boil a large amount of water in the pot (salted if you like, for flavor). Put the corn-on-the-cob in the water and leave the heat on only for a minute, put the top on and turn off the heat. Since there is no more boiling the corn will not likely overcook. In ten minutes or so it will be ready, but it will sit there in the hot water for a long time (did you remember to keep the to on?) as long as you keep the top on.

Variation: If you have a smallish pot, microwave the corn for a few minutes before you put it in the boiling water. You’ll get less long term holding because there is less heated mass.

Tip 2: First, decide if you want to use catchup or ketchup. If you find people objecting to the use of either, call it Umami Sauce. Then, put the Umami sauce and the mustard on the hot dogs BEFORE you grill them. Ketchup, er, I mean, Umami sauce and mustard makes an excellent BBQ sauce. Add any available cooking oil to make more spectacular fire.

Tip 3: The main use of inexpensive bottled beer is to manage the above mentioned fire. Acquire long-necked bottled beer. Hold with fingers around neck, thumb over opening. Shake lightly and using thumb to regulate flow, the beer bottle now becomes an effective and tasty fire extinguisher. As the amount of beer goes down more shaking will be needed. When it is mostly gone feed it to the dog and get another one.

Tip 4: You probably don’t really want to feed that to the dog.

More “Notes from the North Country” here

Photograph by Amanda Laden, used with permission.

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14 thoughts on “Cabin Cooking Tips

  1. Hell, if you have a fire don’t waste fuel boiling a pot. Don’t husk the corn, just pull off 2 or 3 layers of husk then bury the corn in embers. In about 5-7 minutes rescue the corn; ideally the embers shouldn’t have burned through all the husk but at most you should have a few kernels toasted and caramelized – you shouldn’t have any charked kernels. Now you husk the corn and enjoy your toasted corn. All the husk can be gathered up and burnt to obtain lye for making soap … banana peels are also great for making lye but in the Good Ol’ Days bananas were hard to come by.

  2. The problem with boiling corn is that you leave half the flavor in th water.

    If you don’t have coals to work with use an oven. Trim the silk back some and put the ears, un-husked, onto the center rack of an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, husk and serve with a compound butter.

    For the compound butter, you might try something like adding finely minced shallot, thyme leaves, garlic paste, and lemon juice to the butter. Another option might be Dijon mustard, thyme leaves, and blue cheese or, for a little spice, jalapeno peppers, garlic paste, lemon juice, finely minced shallot, parsley, and cayenne pepper. Mix the suggested ingredients to suit your taste. If you are using unsalted butter,and you should be, then you will need to add a pinch of salt.


  3. All those roasting the corn ideas are great, and it is not only a great way to cook corn-on-the-cob but the most widely used method geographically, I’m pretty sure. However, do note that in my recipe we don’t boil it.

    Personally, I never add butter to corn. This way, corn remains a diet food.

  4. Oh, I put butter on things. I just stopped putting it on corn or table bread sometime during the last quarter of the 20th century. Today, I watch my relatives at dinner putting butter on the bread, then putting butter on the corn, and I’m enjoying the bread and the corn as much as they do but I’ve got 200 calories to spare.

  5. Salt in the water? !!! Never. Salt makes the kernels tough.

    The only reason to put salt in the water is ye olde cook’s trick to ensure temperature – same as for pasta. If you want something, put the merest smidgen of sugar in the water. The kernels don’t toughen up. **Then** sprinkle salt (or salted butter) on the cob to eat.

  6. I agree. I thought I was the only one who knew the sugar trick. I suspect it only works, if it does work, if the kernels are a bit dry and will absorb some water. Really, to have enough sugar or salt to be tasted there would have to be a lot.

  7. that wait for local,MN,corn is always hard.the stuff from Mexico arrives to wet our appetite.then Florida chimes in with “better but still not the real thing”.Iowa is just a grade above field corn,which i think they send us just out of spite.
    and then the Real Thing!.melts in your mouth like butter at $1 a dozen,at some point they are tossing it off the back of trucks just to hold off the mobs.

  8. just as a after thought,as a kid in the 50’s and from “out east” i recall corn on the cob as darker yellow and the cobs being long and not as fat as what i seen here now.

  9. Corn today is very different than corn of 40 years ago. Then, you had to start the water boiling before you picked the corn and you had to run from the field to the pot. If you tripped, you had to start over.

    There are enzymes that convert the sugars into starch. That is what happens in field corn, which you want because starches are more stable than sugars (for long term storage). Cooking denatures those enzymes.

  10. Exactly! I’ve been known to husk the corn on the stalk and dip the ear, still attached, into the pot of water boiling on a propane burner. Of course, I’ve also been known to take a lobster directly from a trap pulled from 160 foot depth into a pot of boiling water after briefly checking that it is of size.

  11. But you have to take a bite of it while it is still on the stalk to eat the “freshest” corn in the world. (can’t get any fresher than still attached to the plant!)

    I have done that with some foods that can be eaten while still attached to the plant, lettuce, apricots, peas, berries. But you have taken that to another level to do it with foods that require cooking.

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