When readers ask my parents and family about the secret to good health and living to a "ripe old age," the credit always goes to staying active and rural farm life.
Besides my dad's sister, my Auntie Lottie turning 90 earlier this month, it's also easy to cite another farm friend neighbor, Emil Smolek, who will celebrate his 94th birthday on July 26 and is still a frequent sight on his tractor, happily helping his sons with farming.
Emil, who was first married for years to Lorraine "Sis" Paulsen, is now married to one of Auntie Lottie's best girlfriends from her school days, Dorothy, who is now also 90, and had became widowed after husband Mike Gundlach died. (Emil said he became reacquainted with Dorothy while cleaning one of the ditches near her farm fields, and then asked her to the town fish fry since they were friends who had both lost their spouses).
Since today's column features corn-themed recipes, highlighting the winner of this month's Crown Point Corn Roast Cooking with Corn Recipes, it's a perfect pre-birthday tribute to Emil, who still farms more than 1,600 acres of corn.
Executive Chef Patrick Scholz of Lucrezia Ristorante, in Crown Point, was the winner with his recipes for both a creamy corn with some zesty zip and a delicious polenta cake side dish. Both winning recipes are shared this week. Lucrezia's was also one of the big winners for last weekend's Crown Point Taste of the Region, hosted by the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce. Dawn Stokes, membership director for Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, provided the names of all of this year's winners.
• Best Specialty Dish – Lucrezia Ristorante, Braised Beef Short Rib and Mascarpone Polenta with Chipotle Aioli
• Best BBQ (Excluding Ribs) – Lucrezia Ristorante, BBQ Pork Belly Slider
• Best Ribs - Asparagus Restaurant, Bangkok Baby Back Ribs
• Best Sausage/Hot Dog/Brat - Zodiac Cafe & Lounge, German White Pork Sausage
• Best Fish Dish - Amore' Ristorante, Crab Cakes
• Best Pizza - Faustinos Italian Restaurant, Thin Crust Sausage
• Best Mexican Dish - Muchos Tacos and More, Fiesta Rice
• Best Frozen Dessert - Jill's Sweets and Treats, Deluxe Frozen Cheesecake
• Best Non-Frozen Dessert - Lucrezia Ristorante, Homemade HoHo
Congrats to all!
Spicy Creamed Corn
6 ears fresh sweet corn
1 large lime
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of cayenne pepper
DIRECTIONS: Cut raw corn from each ear. Heat butter in a sauté pan on medium heat and add corn to cook for 10 minutes. Zest half of lime and add with the juice from the lime to the corn. Add heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes stirring occasionally, until thickened. Makes 7 servings.
Mascarpone and Scallion Polenta
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (avoid instant cornmeal)
5 scallions cut into thin rings
Salt and pepper
Flour for dusting
DIRECTIONS: Bring chicken stock, milk, heavy cream and 4 tablespoons of butter to a boil in a sauce pan. Slowly whisk in cornmeal and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium/low heat for 25-30 minutes stirring often. Add mascarpone, scallions and remaining butter and stir to incorporate. Spread the cooked polenta in 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Let cool to room temp and place in refrigerator to finish cooling. When cold cut into 2-inch by 2-inch squares. Dust squares in flour and sauté in olive oil on medium heat for about 4 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Makes 10 servings.