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Sun

23

Sep

2007

Everybody's a farmer. Have some cornbread.
Sunday, 23 September 2007 17:32
by Jimmy Montague

Jimmy stands by the crop in Buchanan County. Jimmy is 6 feet tall: How tall is that corn?Time was, every farmer’s child grew up knowing that all real wealth comes from the land. He or she knew that every human being is tied to the land, that everybody is a farmer with muddy boots, and that most of the world’s troubles are caused by people who either never knew or have forgotten the fact.

Today’s America is most entirely full of people who know that money is real. Tell them it ain't so, them they're all just farmers, they think you’re crazy or that you’ve insulted them. When occasionally they mention “feet of clay” they speak of their crank religions and not of reality. They are averse to reality and their aversion makes them dangerous. They would rather have blood on their hands than have mud on their feet. Small wonder they pick leaders like George W. Bush.

All of that comes to mind today because, here in Iowa, this time in September sees the start of our corn harvest. The land is a glorious, tawny jungle of ripe, towering grain. A drive to Cedar Rapids yesterday showed that reapers have already opened a number of fields. Though the weather is sunny and warm, the farmers aren’t working today because there was a heavy rain last night. The ground is muddy and the moisture content of the grain is up from yesterday, so the machinery stands idle. In a day or two, when the ground and the grain dry down again, the reapers will go back to work. Barring additional rainfall, operations will go full-throttle next week. The shining acres will for a time resemble a vast freeway construction site as giant machines swarm in the fields and fill the air with clouds of fragrant dust. The roads will shake while an army of thundering, heavy-laden trucks race frantically between reapers in the fields and storage facilities in one or another of the small towns that speckle the Iowa prairie.

If that sounds exciting, that’s because it is exciting. You can’t live in rural Iowa, you can’t know this part of the country and not be thrilled by the pace of the panoramic spectacle that happens here over the next few weeks. In the famous German community of Amana they’ll soon have their Octoberfest, and any number of other towns will throw shindigs of one sort or another.

For me, though the beer and the sausage and the celebrations are grand, the harvest itself is the whole show. When I climb up on a wagon and see golden wealth pour from the reaper’s spout, when I feel the grain run through my fingers, when I wake in the night and the smell of shelled corn wafts through the open window, then I see and touch and smell what we were all put here to make and to do and to be. I know then that I am whole and that it’s been a good year, and for a blessed time I don't care what sort of poisonous filth spews from lying, greed-head wowsers in Washington and Wall Street and Des Moines. The last few farmers in America are still on the land and they will stay on the land because if they are pushed off the land, America will starve to death. The greed-heads ought to be smart enough to know that -- even if they resent or cannot grasp the why of it.

Some yuppie queen a week or two ago thought she had caught me out. Certain I could never describe it, she asked me what shelled corn actually smells like. I told her the simple truth: “It smells like cornbread on the hoof.” The stupid look on her face was priceless. For a second there I felt like Cyrano at the top of his game.

The Best Cornbread in the World

Dry Ingredients —
*1.5 C all purpose flour
*1.5 C corn meal
*3/4 C cane sugar
*3 T baking powder (Karlin’s or Rumford gets the best rise)

Wet Ingredients —
*3/8 C corn oil
*3 jumbo eggs
*3 T honey
*1 14.5 oz can of cream-style corn
*condensed milk

Instructions —
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.
3) Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl — no sifting necessary.
4) Add oil, eggs, honey, and cream-style corn, and stir to mix thoroughly.
5) Still stirring, add UNDILUTED condensed milk — as necessary — to make batter that pours readily but is not TOO runny. This normally requires a little more or less than a cup of condensed milk.
6) Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until toothpick test shows done.
7) Serve hot or cold with real butter.

BUSY PARENTS NOTE! Prep time is ten minutes for this delicious treat. With tall glasses of ice-cold milk and a chunk of fruit for dessert, the stuff makes a perfect, healthy, high-energy breakfast or lunch for school-age kids. They will gobble it like a herd of ravenous hogs and they will holler for more. So will you. Result guaranteed.


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