Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you, and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny.
– Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2.
I don’t buy a lot of tools for the kitchen. I have my favorite pan (a 10″ Calphalon saucier), my favorite knife (a wicked sharp Cutco chef’s knife my dad bought somewhere around 1970) of course, but gadgets? We don’t really have room for them, so while I love to shop for them, I rarely purchase.
A couple of summers ago, we stocked up on corn. A local farmer was selling “peaches ‘n’ cream” sweet corn at the market; we bought all that we could afford, and one Sunday afternoon, we spent several hours shucking, blanching, cutting, and freezing. For the cutting, I used a succession of knives, moving one to the next as they dulled. For weeks we told stories to the family of the Great Corn on the Cob project.
That Christmas, my wife’s grandmother gave us a wooden corn cutter.
It’s a very unassuming device: a wooden platform about twice the length of an ear of corn, with a metal dohickey around a hole in the middle that strips the kernels from the cob as you push the ear forward.
We all laughed and smiled and posed for pictures and up onto the cabinet top it went, more or less forgotten.
Last weekend, I had several ears of corn I needed to freeze or discard. I’d purchased them on sale*, more than we could eat at one meal. I shucked and blanched and reached for my knife and honing steel…
…and remembered the cutter.
Why not give it a go? I pulled down a bowl, put the cutter on top of it (after figuring out which end was which – I’d long since lost the instructions), laid down an ear of corn and pushed.
It was amazing: the kernels were sheared off cleanly and consistently. It went a lot easier after the first ear, when the wood was already slick with corn juice. (Note: there is a lot more debris and juice, as the cutter is only butter-knife sharp; I’m totally okay with that.) I was done in about half the time: four zipper freezer bags of corn, 2 cups each, in the downstairs freezer.
And there it is: a kitchen gadget that I only use once a year, that I would not part with, that proves its worth every time I pick it up.
It occurred to me as I was doing dishes that I never officially thanked Michelle’s grandmother for the tool. So, here we go:
Ruby, thank you. Thank you for the great tool, for making my cooking go just a little smoother.
Now, dear reader, if you want one, you can buy one here.
* Stock up while you can, by the way: as of this writing, with the drought the Midwest corn crop is in a nosedive to failure, and prices are going to rise quickly.