For as long as I can remember, there has been one unwavering staple that has defined every summer of my life:
What? You were expecting a bottle of Summer Shandy? Please, I may enjoy booze but I wasn’t drinking Shandy when I was nine, it’s not like I have a problem. Nor was Shandy in existence at that time. Brush up on your Shandy history, my friends.
Anyway, sweet corn has always been a huge part of every summer for me. Maybe because I hail from the sweet corn capital of the world. Yes, Mendota is the official home of the Annual Sweet Corn Festival. Yeah, we’re serious about corn. Don’t believe me? Part of the annual fest is a Sweet Corn Queen Pageant. And guess who was a contestant?
I'm the non-Asian with the overly pouffy hair, in case you don't recognize me...
Shockingly, I did not follow in the footsteps of my beautiful friend Karen (to my right) who had won a spot in the prestigious Queen Court the year before. There was, um, a small microphone malfunction and when I confidently answered my question (“What historical figure would you most like to meet and why?”) half of the county suffered mild hearing loss. Which is a shame, especially because my answer was Anne Frank.
The girl who won, who coincedentally did not have any microphone issues, had been given the question, “If you could be any Beanie Baby which would you choose and why?” How her answer -which I belive was Spangle, because he represents the freedom our great country fought so bravely for (I know, gag) - trumped my heartfelt affinity for the girl who could still see the good in humanity despite having endured one of the worst wars and acts of genocide our world has ever seen, still baffles me to this day. Apparently using the word genocide in a beauty pageant is frowned upon…
So, no Sweet Corn Queen crown for me. Whomp, whomp. But, hey – I did get to ride the loser float in the parade the next day.
That's me in the upper left hand corner, waving proudly from the top of my loser float throne...
Eh, you win some, you lose some. At least I’m not still bitter about it over ten years later. At least I’ve got that.
These days, though I do try to make it home for the annual SCF (yeah, it’s so cool it has an acronym), I enjoy sweet corn outside the city limits of Mendota. And in less traditional ways.
Summer Veggie Flatbread. Otherwise known as my lunch for the next month or so.
Look, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I feel strongly that your life would be exponentially better if you made this. I truly do. It’s a tad more involved than my typical “throw a bunch of stuff in a pan and call it a meal” recipes, but I promise you it’s worth the extra time. Trust me. Also, this recipe contains presto, er, pesto – so you know it’s going to be good.
Summer Vegetable Flatbread
Flat Bread Dough
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 package dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of Italian herbs (optional)
- Cooking spray
- 2 ears of fresh sweet corn
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pesto
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in 6 tablespoons warm water in a large bowl and stir in 1/4 cup flour. Let stand 30 minutes or until bubbly. Add 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup warm water, salt and Italian herbs to yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Then add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough. Punch dough down, then cover and let rest 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray or olive oil and evenly roll flatbread dough into pan. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until center is set.
Meanwhile, wrap cleaned corn in waxed paper and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then cut the corn from the cobs. Brush the zucchini, tomatoes and corn with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and sauté in a skillet until tender, 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally.
After your vegetables are done, brush the pesto onto the flatbread and then top it with the vegetables and cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is slightly golden and the cheese is melted.
Slice it up and enjoy it hot and fresh from the oven. Or have it cold the next day. Both are acceptable. And delicious.
A meal fit for a Sweet Corn Queen. Or, you know, the girl who should have been Sweet Corn Queen.