having patience and a recipe: skillet-fried (creamed) corn

A handful of days at the beach are like cheap therapy for me. Well, not so cheap, really. There are costs to consider: the cost of the beach house rental, the house and pet sitter fees, dinners out, the cost of gas…

But still.  It’s therapy. It’s good for me.

Each day, I awoke, grudgingly, shortly after sunrise, sunlight streaming through the white shades in the lilac-walled master bedroom. The sounds of the kids whispering in the hallway and clopping up the stairs was enough to get my mind moving, anticipating the day ahead. Breakfast was boxed cereal on most days, but on that special first morning, we were treated to gooey slices of Julia’s cream-cheese-stuffed french toast. Hours at the beach, sweaty and sandy with salt-pinched skin, were followed by cool dips in the lap pool and lunch breaks in the crisp, air-conditioned beach house.

I read books even. Books without bunnies or princesses or dinosaurs. I finished Gone Girl (wow) and moved on to Sharp Objects (completely disturbing but addictive). Gillian Flynn’s novels, so evocative and unsettling, have sucked me in like a bad habit. After finishing her first book on that last day full day spent lounging on the beach, I downloaded Dark Places, the second of her three novels, to my Kindle. I just can’t get enough.

I adore reading – and I got to do it for five days in a row. Can you imagine?

And so, we’re home. Back from the beach, and back to our suburban lives without sand and salt water and sunscreen-sticky limbs.

I’m playing at Stay At Home Mom these during these last days – hours – before the weekend. I’m not very good at this game. Just ask my kids – they’ll probably tell you the same. I lack patience. I like a clean home – clutter and toys and Play-Doh drive me crazy. I like time to write or read or clean. Or sit quietly. None of this happens when I play Stay At Home Mom. I try to be better, try to overcome this problem, but it’s a constant struggle.

So, I’m doing my best. Making it work. And trying not to check my work email, that one part of my life where I feel In Control.

I asked the kids yesterday, our first full day home since returning from vacation, what they wanted for dinner. This corn made the top of the list. I’d made it before, and they were immediately enchanted — as was I. The name is a bit of a misnomer. Skillet-fried corn is really a version of creamed corn, but no cream is added. The special ingredient that makes it creamy is time. Lots of stirring and time.

It’s a simple recipe, but patience is essential.

Much like being a parent, really.

Yield: Serves 6.

Skillet-Fried Corn

This recipe comes from Cook's Country (and is reprinted with their permission). I adapt most recipes, but this one is simply perfect as-is. Stirring and cooking slowly are the key components to making this recipe work.


8 ears corn
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup water, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


1. Remove the kernels from the corn cobs, collecting them in a large bowl. With the back of a knife, scrape the corn cobs over the bowl to catch any remaining liquid and corn bits from the cobs.

2. In a separate, small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil until shimmering. Add corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in the flour mixture, and cook for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup water and cook, stirring continuously until water has evaporated, approximately 8 minutes. Add the last 1/4 cup of water and cook, stirring constantly until water has evaporated, for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat, stir in butter, and serve while warm.

August/September 2012 issue of Cook's Country.

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15 Responses to “when life gets in the way, and a recipe: apple and pear pie”

  1. martina — September 19, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    you can do this 🙂 you are one of the strongest women i know and an inspiration! thinking of you and your family and sending healing thoughts your way 🙂

  2. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — September 19, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    So sorry to hear about your dad – but glad he is doing well now. Hugs 🙂

  3. amelia from z tasty life — September 19, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

    MJ: little daily things – like making a pie – are really the best way to go about big changes and happening like this one… I hope you find comfort in the small moments (and of course wish your dad a speedy recovery). BYW, from your FB page link I clicked on your mom’s blog and started reading a few of her posts: I can see where you get your writing skills and passion to share life, as it is happening, in the moment… you are a beautiful family!

  4. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite.com — September 19, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    Pie crust does sense your fear and frustration. But yours looks lovely. I am sending you healing, peaceful througts for you and your mum and dad. And Amelia’s right – you and your mum ae both so talented. Hugs xox

  5. JulieD — September 19, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    The pie looks wonderful, MJ. I hope your dad is all better and home soon!

  6. Winnie — September 19, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    Sending love your way, my friend, and cannot wait to see you next week xoxo

  7. Paula — September 19, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

    Yes, you can do it and you did do it, wonderfully so and this does not just apply to the pie crust. I’m sorry that what was turning out to be such a good week ended with your Dad in ICU, but thankful that he appears to be on the mend and going to be getting more help at the re-hab centre. Your Mom will hopefully also be able to take advantage of this opportunity to get some rest herself. I can imagine the worry the kids felt when they saw their Grampa but the hugs around his neck must have brought them and him lots of comfort. Hoping that your Dad has a full recovery.
    Congratulations on the FL Times Union publishing, on the Gojee, and on Kitchen Generation’s feature.
    I’ve baked crisp using apples and pears and I can imagine how delicious your pie tastes.

  8. Rachel Winter — September 19, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    Thinking of you and your family.

  9. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — September 19, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    I’m so sorry about your dad’s fall. I’m glad to hear that his condition is improving and that he’s out of the ICU though. Thinking of you and your family. xo

  10. sweetsugarbelle — September 19, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

    MJ, I am so sorry you have been having a hard time lately. Im glad things are lookng bedder. Hoping your dad is well SOON!

  11. DessertForTwo — September 20, 2011 @ 1:18 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, but I’m so glad to hear he is recovering.

    LOVE your article 🙂 I agree-Southern food should not be haute cuisine. It should be made with love in your heart and flour smeared on your face.

    Lots of love to ya,

  12. LiztheChef — September 20, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    I know you can do this but I’m certainly sorry that you and your Mom have to go through this, not to mention your Dad and what he must be experiencing. Lean on your friends…

  13. chinmayie @ love food eat — September 20, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

    I am so sorry about your dad! Wishing him a fast recovery…

  14. Macaroni Mama — September 21, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    Thanks to your friends, MJ, who clicked on my blog link.

  15. Jamie — September 27, 2011 @ 11:13 am

    Baking really centers us, helps us focus, concentrate and think things through. And baking makes those around us happy. Hoping this helped you and those around you get through this rough time. Sending hugs and hoping your dad heals soon and well. xo

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