A Kettle Full Of Memories

This holiday weekend has me wondering what happened to the corn kettle. This oversized pot would appear on the stove at my parents home each summer holiday. It was the only kettle large enough to hold more than a dozen ears of freshly picked corn on the cob.

I hated the job of husking the corn because of those awful worms that sometimes appeared in the silk surrounding the ears.

When not in use, the metal pot hung on a rack near the stove. It was a reminder of good times at the backyard picnic table.

The pot had a miraculous quality. No matter how many or few ears of corn went into it, there was always enough to go around. Later I learned that Mom knew how to stretch a baker’s dozen of corn by breaking the ears into smaller pieces, claiming they were easier to eat.

There were often discussions on the best way to butter an ear of corn. While the sophisticated types would cut slices of butter and apply them to the corn, we had another, less challenging way to accomplish the same task. Mom would put whole sticks of butter on a plate and we would roll the corn on top of the butter.

The corn kettle came out again in the fall. It was then used to make huge batches of popcorn we consumed when watching “Gunsmoke” or “The Carol Burnett” shows. There was a level of talent needed to keep the popcorn from burning as it cooked. You had to slide the pot back and forth across the heat on the stove. Making popcorn this way included a little exercise, unlike the instant variety made in a microwave.

The pot was especially useful for making enough popcorn for those caramel coated popcorn balls Mom made around Halloween. Those treats were delicious with that homemade sugary coating, but played havoc with our teeth.

The corn kettle certainly was not attractive. After years of wear and tear, it last reminded me of something that came off of a battlefield. Maybe the Civil War era. Yet it was strong, held the heat well and the handle was like a thick, metal rope in your hand.

Most likely I will cook up some corn on the cob this Labor Day weekend but in a much smaller pot than that of my childhood. I just might break out those fancy cornholders, too.

I’m not sure who among my family members ended up taking the corn kettle after Mom died. I kind of miss it and the good times that echoed from its deep interior.

Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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