Monday, October 29, 2007

Local Cornmeal

This is pretty exciting, just on the grounds of my being a mostly local eater: Local cornmeal from Full Belly Farm. Because there isn't a lot of corn processed into second-generation products in my area.
Fresh corn, I can get.
But local cornmeal earned a squeal of delight.
Turns out it's even more exciting, on the grounds of It Tastes Good. Much more complex and sweeter than any stone-ground polenta I've ever tasted. It tastes not so much like "corn," but "lots of corn." Fresh, summery corn, dried and ground up.
Cooked into a polenta-like consistency and then refrigerated, it doesn't seem to set up so well. You won't be able to cut it into fancy shapes; it's a little wet.
And there is a tiny flaw in the farm's production of cornmeal. They seem not to have figured out how to filter the kernel skin from the meal. So when you cook it up you'll find little glassy shards in the mix. I may take the trouble of sieving it out myself.
But the flavor is definitely worth the dental pain.
UPDATE: I want to be fair to the farmers. I just examined a bag of cornmeal we bought more recently, and it appears to be more finely ground. It's a shame to lose that great, gritty texture, but perhaps the kernel skins are more pulverized. I'll cook some up and let you know.


Sam said...

I wish they sold in the city somewhere. i would love to get hold of more of their flour too!

Can you use this to make grits? It's the same substance, right? I do get confused with all these polentas and corn products...

I am going to see King Corn tonight.

claudia said...

and that right there is why god created dental floss...

ChrisB said...

I'm more interested in the four legged chef!!

Liz said...

Mmm, yes the old conundrum: do we stick with the consistently-ground factory made stuff, or do we accept shards of corn glass in our porridge? ;)

We've been growing and grinding our own cornmeal for the past couple of years (occasionally some wheat, too), and I'll tell ya that it takes a while to get used to. But you do get used to it, and then wonder how you ever tolerated the homogeneous factory stuff in the first place.

kudzu said...

Jumping in immediately to tell Sam that grits and cornmeal are n-o-t the same. Grits are made from hominy: corn that has been treated and dried and has its own specific flavor. Cornmeal can be used as oolenta, but --
grits is grits, honey.

Moonbear said...

I'm squealing too! Good ol' Full Belly Farm. And coincidentally, I prepared polenta for our dinner tonight. Minus glass shards, I hope!

Dagny said...

I just knew that someone would correct Sam on the grits thing. My first thought was, "No, they are made from hominy." While I love polenta, it will never taste the same as grits.

And speaking of grits, yesterday I just met a woman who will be opening a soul food restaurant in San Leandro by the beginning of December. She assured me that grits would be on the menu all day. (Because if you don't have much money and you're in the South, grits are for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.)

b'gina said...

It may be those "glass shards" that give it that fresh corn taste. Just think of the crunch as roughage. ;+)

Kat said...

How I do love polenta. When I was in SF my ex's grandmother, who was Italian, would make this polenta, but she put stuff in it - it was so good though. I can't remember what she put it in though - do you have any suggestions?

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: I can get you some. I just took a bag of flour and one of corn to Anita on Sunday!
Grits, which I love, come from a different variety of corn, and it has been "nixtamalized" (treated with an alkali).

Claudia: Sometimes food hurts. Like a good bagel.

Chris: For you, my dear. I added him to the photo because it was so DULL otherwise.

Liz: No conundrum at all. From the first bite, I was devoted, shards and all. It tastes that different.
I'm very impressed you grind corn. Must take a real muthah of a mill.

Kudzu: "And now a word from our Southern Eating expert."
Thank you.

Moonbear: I'm so in love with Full Belly. I'll forgive them their learning process.

Dagny: It's hard to imagine how I came to love grits, being basically a Northern girl. I could eat 'em all day too. See you in San Leandro.

b'gina: Where the heck you been, baby? I hope all's well.
Yes, roughage. My intestinal tract is well-scrubbed.

Kat: I'll tell you what we put in our cornmeal. Chopped up pickled jalapenos and grated cheese. It's a favorite breakfast at our house. We also think it would be nice with maple syrup and a blorp of yogurt.

Sam said...

maybe i need the flour more than the corn then? Maybe I'll ask you to get me a couple of bags and i will collect and make payment for them when i bring mum to see beansprout?

Sam said...

if you don't mind of course I forgot my please and thank yous, sorry.

Era said...

Yay for locally processed goods! And that's my CSA farm, Full Belly. They had a great Hoes Down Festival this year, you should mark your calendar for next October and go for a farm tour.

Lannae said...

You got fresh ground cornmeal too? The reason why your cornmeal is finer bits (like my fresh cornmeal) is because the stones that ground it are nearly touching, and the corn bits have to pass through the small opening.

OK, so it sounds like you have cornmeal like my cornmeal, so I am looking fwd to recipes! I tried making little corn cakes, but they ended up hard as rock.

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: Of course I will get you some flour. I'll wait until November so it'll be fresher. Or maybe I'll get it now and freeze it for you.
(Etiquette-wise, doesn't your mum also want to meet ME?)

Era: Yeah, I knew you CSA'd with Full Belly. And I read your post on the Hoes Down on your blog. How cool. Sleeping under the stars. I'd have loved to go, but it's just a teensy bit far away, and they don't allow dogs at the event. Poor Bean Sprout, y'know?

Lannae: Recipes. Sigh. This is not a recipe blog. But I will give you inspiration.

Mimi said...

I have been soooo jealous that you bay area folks got to buy wheat at your farmers market, now I get to be so jealous of your cornmeal too. Harumph! :0)

KathyF said...

You won't believe this, but I was just thinking yesterday that it's been a while since we've seen Beansprout.

About cornmeal, I'd love to try that. Bring some over, why doncha?

cookiecrumb said...

Mimi: It is a blessing. :)

KathyF: Bean Sprout appreciates your noticing! He's been so non-photo-worthy lately; hair's grown out like a haystack.

Monkey Wrangler said...

I am a slave to the Belly and their cornmeal. In fact, I've consumed at least 10 english muffins in the past two days that are about 1/4 cornmeal.

The last bag I bought from Judith was a 10 pounder and I'm moving through it at a clip. With the occasional shard or two.....but damn tasty!

cookiecrumb said...

MW: We've got 4.5 pounds of the cornmeal in our freezer now. I did not know they sold it in 10-lb. sacks!
The flavor is dee-vine. Really eye-opening. Cranky and I have ordered stone-ground grits and cornmeal from Saveur-touted mills... but the flavor isn't there.

Kat said...

Thanks - I'm gonna have to try that. Sounds yummy.

cookiecrumb said...

Kat: Get some quick. It's a seasonal item, and it's really fresh now.