Cooking with Barbara: Corn and Les

By Barbara Crady Whitley

Cooking with Barbara: Corn and Les

July – heat waves shimmering from a black-top highway along a country lane, sweet aromas of honeysuckle and yellow roses, hollyhocks dripping after a summer shower! Sweat drips (yes, sweat, not perspiration!) from my husband’s brow as he lights the charcoal for the easiest holiday (and meal) of the year. No frantic preparation, no gifts to agonize over, no huge feasts to juggle along with endless, but delightful, parties.

July 4th – no worry for this meal that’s cooked, or left uncooked, almost entirely outside. We sit at the picnic table just at the back door and partially shuck fresh, locally grown corn to place on the grill for a slow roast. I sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese, sea salt and freshly snipped chives. Les will put them on the rack first with their shucks wrapped loosely around them. (Be sure to poach the ears ten to fifteen minutes to prevent burning!) Then in the last few minutes – sometimes we can’t wait any longer – the four (or more) of us will grab the ears and while hopping them from one hand to the other, eat the succulent morsels before they’re really done. Those that remain, if there are any, will be replaced at the back of the rack just before the hamburgers and hot dogs go on. Voila! Meal is ready! The buns will go on last, just enough to give them a slightly seared crispness. What a joy this day is!

July is also the birth month of my son, Adam, who has always been the risk taker in our small nuclear family. Just before he was born on the 8th, that July 4th, my husband, Les, and my daughter, Heather, and I enjoyed a magnificent holiday display of fireworks at the stadium on the campus of UNC, where Les was studying for a graduate degree. I believe that was when my in-uterine son’s love of fireworks began. Since that time, when he grew old enough, he would beg us to buy enough twizzlers, and dervishes to launch from our front porch to make us at least feel we were having a dazzling display.

One July 4th, we were privileged to be able to view the fireworks from a balcony at North Beach Plantation in North Myrtle Beach. From there we could see all of the displays from Myrtle Beach to Surfside to Murrells Inlet and even to Pawleys Island. It was awe-inspiring to see the blossoming of color and tracers of light without having to hear the concussions that caused them.

Burgers, hot dogs, corn in the shuck – all part of an easy, relaxed day, but also my family and I would enjoy potato salad: little cubes of pearlescent potatoes boiled with the skin on, then tossed with velvety mayonnaise, a touch of mustard, dainty squares of hard-boiled eggs, and dices of Momma’s sweet pickles. Scrumptious. From time to time, I would add my version of pasta salad: al dente penne pasta, olive oil, salt, pepper, niblets of corn, green peas, sweet red bell pepper, green onions, varying herbs, chopped summer tomatoes, and cubed feta cheese – a beautiful combination of colors and textures.

Anyone would be happy and content, particularly on this holiday, paying homage to the birth of this great nation. I hope you all enjoy and saver the day. Until next time, keep cooking!

Barbara’s Pasta Salad

1 lb. penne pasta, cooked to package direction (al dente)
Toss while still warm with 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

Mix the following ingredients and add to still warm pasta:
1 cup garden peas
1 cup cut corn
1 sweet red bell pepper diced
1 cup diced tomatoes
½ cup green onions, chopped or sliced on the diagonal
½ cup diced firm feta cheese

Add following herbs to taste:
Italian seasoning

About this writer

  • Barbara Crady Whitley is a Master Baker and owner of Crady’s Eclectic Cuisine on Main Street in Conway, South Carolina. She offers cooking classes once a month. For more information visit:, find them on Facebook or call 843-248-3321.

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