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Aug 6, 2015
Supporting the local economy is important in small towns across South Dakota. There aren’t many big business chains in communities with fewer than 500 people. Grocery stores, cafes, auto shops, gas stations and a smattering of retail shops are all owned and operated by our friends and neighbors.
Income gets recycled as this farmer’s great calf crop allows a boost in retail spending, and the extra cash flow through the grocery store means the owner can finally build that deck his wife has wanted on the back of the house. The contractor (local, of course) purchases supplies from his brother-in-law’s lumberyard on the edge of town, and the lumberyard funnels a little support to the youth baseball team. In a small town, one person’s money can really be everyone’s.
This time of year, my favorite way to support the local economy is to buy sweet corn. Drive the main highway of any little town, and I bet you’ll find boys and girls in the corner of a parking lot with a Ranger full of freshly picked sweet corn. They may be selling it by the baker’s dozen, and often the cash will finance football cleats and school supplies. They will happily chat with you, and one will even load the corn in your vehicle while the other collects the cash. It’s the perfect way to support the local economy.
Now that you have this locally-grown, freshly-picked, sweet, tender and juicy corn, you will of course immediately boil a few ears and devour straight from the cob with butter and salt. You may even have bought several dozen from those cute little boys and spend an afternoon or evening cutting the kernels from the cob and processing to freeze. Great sweet corn in the winter is an incredible treat.
When you are done with that, I recommend you try some Creamed Corn with Roasted Green Chiles and Spinach. This delicious side dish combines the smokiness of roasted green chiles with the sweetness of fresh corn and bathes it in cream flecked with colorful (and healthy) spinach and red peppers. A-maize-ing, if you will pardon the pun.
Creamed Corn with Roasted Green Chiles and Spinach
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2-3/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup diced red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4oz can diced roasted green chiles (I used chiles from last year's garden that I had roasted, chopped, and frozen in ice cube trays...then popped into freezer bags for storage...3 cubes for this dish.)
fresh corn cut from 4-5 ears of sweet corn (or, if you must, frozen corn will work when sweet corn is not in season)
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
fresh ground black pepper
4 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
Add the onions and red peppers; sauté until translucent.
Add the garlic, being careful not to burn.
Add the sweet corn and stir to coat with butter & onions in the pan.
Allow corn to cook slowly and almost caramelize or brown, but not burn. Stir, but not too frequently. You want a little crust.
Add the green chiles and heat through.
Add the flour and stir to coat the kernels of corn and cook out the "raw" taste.
Add the cream and bring to low simmer.
Reduce heat and simmer to desired thickness for the cream.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the chopped spinach, stir to combine with other ingredients and coat with cream sauce.
Cover skillet and simmer until spinach is wilted. (Serves 4-6)
Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their two dogs ranch near Colome.