Getting an earful

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One of my current means of gainful employment is paraprofessional subbing with the local school district. During one such gig earlier this year, I heard some kindergarteners telling knock-knock jokes, but they weren’t quite getting the format right. They would say the “knock-knock” part, but then would just insert nonsensical words instead of coming up with an actual pun.

So I resolved to teach them a real knock-knock joke, and happened upon this gem:


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Gorilla, who?

Gorilla me a burger, please?


I’m not sure my young charges actually grasped the word play, but soon they were telling this joke to the janitor and the lunch ladies as we waited to get in line for food, and they continued to do so for several days in a row.

Yes, it’s truly a corny joke, but it was the best I could come up with and get 5-year-olds to repeat.

Which makes me think, how did the term “corny” ever get applied to bad jokes. Because to me, sweet corn season is no joke.

This week, I’ve been working my way through a bag of corn that was left on our doorstep by a good friend — a really good friend! — whose family grows some of the best ears around. The corn is sweet and delicious, needing nothing but some butter, salt and pepper to enhance its flavor.

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Since I usually only make a couple ears of corn at a time, I almost always use the microwave method for cooking it. Here’s how I do it:

Using a sharp knife, cut off the excess husk and stem at both ends of the ear. Remove the outermost layers of husk, leaving just a couple layers in place over the kernels. Loosen the remaining husk and run the ears under cold water, or soak in cold water for a few minutes.

Place in microwave and cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on number and size of ears, turning once in the process. Let ears sit for a few minutes to further steam the corn. Use hot pads or oven mitts to remove the husk and silk from the corn. You can also pull the husk back and use it as a handle for eating. Consume.

While it certainly isn’t the case with this batch of corn, occasionally you come across an ear or two that isn’t so sweet, or maybe it loses some flavor with an extended stay in the refrigerator. Such corn is the perfect candidate for making street corn, which utilizes 

mayonnaise instead of butter. Most often, this is referred to as Mexican Street Corn, but I’ve changed it up a bit, so I’m going to call it Minnesota Street Corn instead.

Minnesota Street Corn

¼ cup mayonnaise

½  cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

½ teaspoon fresh basil, chopped

4 ears corn, husked and silk removed


Preheat grill.

Combine mayonnaise, Parmesan and seasonings. Spread a thin layer of the mixture over each ear of corn. Wrap ears in foil and place on grill.

Cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes.


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