Grandma's Wood-burning Stove:
by Marilyn Woody
The wood-burning stove stood in the long kitchen of my great-grandmother's home. A rag-rug covered the floor and a small pump and sink graced one corner. The brick home, a landmark in Heltonville, Indiana for over a century, was situated on a slight knoll with the hill descending to the garden where summer corn grew.
When husked, my Grandma Ramsey cut it off the cob, scraping the milk with her knife to make it creamy. On the back of her little four-burner stove, she placed an iron skillet with bacon grease, then added the cut corn. She might add a little rich cream and then periodically stir as it began to stick. Repeated stirring of the corn was what caused it to end up with bits of crispy corn, combined with the creamy texture.
While the corn cooked she would start frying a chicken and preparing biscuits to go in the small oven. She had killed the chicken earlier in the morning, one from her coop. Frying the chicken to perfection while stirring the corn and keeping an eye on the biscuits was a masterful art. No turning gas burners down, only the knack of moving the coals in the stove to create the right temperature for each item being prepared.
Her table, only steps away from the stove, was always set and ready for serving. When dishes were washed after a meal, they were dried and put back on the table. They were a soft shade of green, covered by a tablecloth until it was time to eat. The cloth was then folded, revealing the table, ready to receive guests.
Along with the piping hot biscuits and crispy chicken, there was the dish of "stir and stick" corn. Dishes of homemade pickles and garden tomatoes added to the fare. Freshly churned butter and honey melted on the hot biscuits.
As a soft, summer breeze blew gently through the window above the table, it seemed nothing could compare with delicious comfort food and a peaceful setting.
Grandma Ramsey's Corn - Southern Fried "Stick 'n' Stir"
1) Fresh corn: Split each row of corn with a sharp knife and cut off top half of kernel. Now scrape the cob to get rest of kernels. It is this sweet, milky kernel that gives the special flavor.
2) Add tsp. sugar, salt and pepper. Fry 2 strips of bacon. (Butter may be substituted.) Pour corn into hot grease: stir almost constantly until thickens and begins to "stick." If too dry keep adding a little water and continue stirring and scraping for approximately 10 minutes. Use low heat.