“This little light of mine.”
My grandmother sang everyday, the mornings were when she was at her most holy.
No matter what ached, no matter what pained, she sang.
A litany of soprano gospel notes flowed from the kitchen doorway to the back room where the screen door stayed ajar.
“All in my house, I’m gonna let it shine.”
I remember asking one day, “Why do you sing this song so much?”
She simply told me, “Because my light will always shine, no matter what darkness may be standing in my way.” This was terrifying to me. The last thing anyone wants is to have to stand in the face of darkness. I wanted to have the same strength as my grandmother, so I began to sing too.
“Out in the dark, I’m gonna let it shine.”
This particular day as we continued to sing, she was meticulously removing the kernels from several ears of corn. They would eventually go into a mixture of buttermilk and flour to make the creamiest corn pudding. Ever the storyteller, she began to tell me more about why she sang this song. How in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer stood outside the Democratic National Convention and sang this song. She was fighting for the right to vote.
During the civil rights movement, this song was sang at rallies, protest, sit ins and standouts. Songs of freedom, songs of woe, breathed both a prayer and complaint of the anguish faced by the souls of African Americans. Each note was a testimony.
“Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine.”
As we sat down for dinner that evening, my grandmother turned to me and asked what I had learned that day. Her eyes were filled with amusement, her foot tapping to an unknown beat on the floor.
I’d learned to shuck corn, I’d learned to save the cobs and boil them with milk.
I’d learned to let my light shine.
Speaking of shining lights. I was shocked to have been nominated for a Saveur Food Blog Award. Did y’all nominate me? I know one person who did, she also was the one who told me I was even on the list. Cindy, I Love You!
It feels weird asking people to vote for me, clearly some of y’all did. Whoever you were, I THANK YOU! It means a lot, especially when these awards and recognition when it comes to food media are so often limited to who gets to be a part.
So now I’m one of 5 in the running for the Food and Culture category. Would you mind voting again? I’ve included the link if you good folks have the time. You can vote once, you can vote often, either way Thank You!!
I’m thinking I should take my Sunday Suppers on the road so I can start meeting some of y’all.
Chilled Sweet Corn Soup With Red Pepper Puree
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 40 mins Yields- 4 servings
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine
Sweet Corn Soup
6 ears of corn, husked
3 tablespoons EVOO
1 valdia onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Red Pepper Puree
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Remove the kernels off of each cob. Place kernels in a large bowl along with 3 of the cobs. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the onions stirring until softened but not brown. About 10 minutes.
Add in the corn kernels and cobs, 4 cups of water, bay leaf and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat and allow to cook for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs and bay leaf.
Add in 1 cup of ice and stir until melted.
Using a blender, blend the soup until completely smooth and creamy. This works best when you do it in batches. To get a super smooth texture, pass mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
To make red pepper puree, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in the peppers and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add ¾ cups of water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Blend red pepper mixture in a blended until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove any red pepper skin.
To serve, ladle the soup into chilled bowls and garnish with spoonfuls of the red pepper puree. In the photos I was testing out how this would look in some chilled glass cups and garnished with drops of red pepper puree, extra corn kernels and herbs.