Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coffee versus tea service

It happened again last weekend. I was sitting in one of my favorite breakfast places, savoring a cup of Bigelow's Raspberry Royale tea when a well-meaning waitress topped off my cup with--you guessed it--coffee. Now mind you, the tea service looks very different from the coffee service (there's a saucer, for one thing, with my used tea bag resting there in plain sight), and I didn't ask for a refill, yet there I was with a cup of coffee/tea. The waitress was quite apologetic, but since it was neither tea nor coffee, it was not palatable. And she didn't bring me another cup!

But at least my waitress noticed my cup was nearing empty. While coffee drinkers are offered refills ad nauseum, I have to beg to get more hot water. Heaven forbid if I ask for another tea bag as well. Instead, I hold out my cup a la Oliver Twist, pleading for more from a frowning waitress. I guess it's because tea service is more difficult than coffee service--there's the boiling water and the tea bag, a whole two part process versus the simple picking up of an already-brewed pot of Joe.

Tea drinkers are subject to other forms of torture, I might add. No one arbitrarily sticks a slice of lemon in a cup of coffee, yet waitresses insist on garnishing tea cups with lemon wedges. When I add a little cream to my tea, the residual juice ends up leaving curds in my cup. Yuck!

Tea needs really hot water to brew, yet often the water is barely tepid, forcing tea drinkers to drink a watery, barely warm beverage. Meanwhile, my coffee-drinking friends are complaining that their beverage is too hot to sip. That's when I start to boil myself!

Do you drink tea? Do you have any stories that you would like to share? Do you have any suggestions to improve tea service for all of us tea drinkers? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The votes are in!

Corn-on-the-cob eaters are a creative bunch. They eat their corn across the cob, around the cob, and cut off the cob all together. They eat it plain. They eat it with butter, butter and salt, or barbecue sauce. They make succotash, corn casseroles, and corn chowder. They cook corn on the stove and on the grill. They husk it first or leave the husk on to protect the tender ears from the searing heat of the coals.

Out of the responses I received, nine people addressed the question of across or around the cob. Three people said they ate across the cob and two eat around. One of my favorite people eats her corn across and then around (I always knew she was creative!). Three people say they always eat their corn cut off the cob.

However you eat your corn on the cob, enjoy the last few weeks of what has been an exceptional corn summer. By this time next month, local corn will be a memory. That is, until next July when the corn is again as high as an elephant's eye!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Setting change

If you were trying to post a comment and unable to do so, please try again. When I looked at my settings, I discovered there is a new, improved, and recommended comment editor. Mind you, it could have been new two years ago. I haven't looked at the settings since I started posting. As students would say, my bad.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but I hope you will play the corn-on-the-cob game anyway!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Corn-on-the-cob survey

Here it is August already, and I have not posted a word about corn on the cob, the quintessential summer vegetable (remember, tomatoes are officially fruit). Both the Thursday and the Saturday farmers markets have been selling corn for well over a month, but I haven't paid tribute to those wonderful ears of sweetness.

Growing up, I remember helping my mother husk a couple of dozen ears of corn for our large family. The kitchen would grow even more hot and humid while the spaghetti pot simmered, waiting for us to plunge the ears into the deep water at precisely the right moment. Back then, we cooked corn for at least ten minutes, and we would only pull enough corn from the pot for one ear per person, letting the rest keep warm on the stove. We'd slather on butter and shake enough salt on top to induce an immediate heart attack, and then we would attack the corn, letting the toppings drip onto our plates. Messy? Yes. Delicious? Without a doubt.

A few years ago, I had oral surgery in late June. The doctor gave me a list of foods to avoid. Apples, not to hard to give up during stone-fruit season. Gum, not too hard for a teacher to resist. Caramels, a little harder. Salt-water taffy, a test of my will power. Corn on the cob, sheer torture. He said that I could cut the corn OFF the cob, but what is the point of that? I mean, seriously, if I were a political prisoner, that would violate the Geneva Conventions. I must confess that since I wasn't allowed to eat corn on the cob, I didn't buy corn on the cob, and I didn't cook corn on the cob. Call me cruel, but I could not face that temptation without succumbing.

This evening, I'm going to put about an inch of water in my wok, add a smidgen of sugar, and bring it to a boil while I husk the corn. As soon as the water hits a full boil, I'm going to drop the corn into the pot, put on the lid, and let it steam just until the kernels change color. In August, the corn is so sweet and so tender and so wonderful that it doesn't need butter or salt. But if you can't help yourself, go ahead. Indulge. After all, summer--at least corn on the cob--doesn't last very long.

My question for you: Do you eat your corn across or around the cob? Please let me know. I'll post the results the week of August 21.