Sometime in the late 1980’s our family acquired a corn casserole recipe. Some might call this casserole a soufflé, others might call it a pudding – we just call it yummy.
The recipe was passed on to us by Dawn Branton, who cuts hair here in town. I don’t know if Dawn created it or just passed it on to us from someone else – I have seen similar recipes in cookbooks since we started making it – but in our house, it is “Dawn’s Corn Casserole.”
It took only about one meal for this dish to become a family favorite – and it has become a staple at almost all manner of holiday dinners. We took the recipe overseas and it became so well-known and loved – even expected – at potluck dinners that I started making two batches just to make sure I would get a bite.
Recipes don’t get much simpler than this—it’s pretty hard to mess it up, even with substitutions. They don’t taste much better than this, either. That’s one of the great things about it – you can substitute in several ways and it still tastes great, with one possible exception: you really need a Jiffy corn muffin mix, or something pretty much equivalent. And this is where our story picks up…
A few years back, in a kingdom far, far away, we had a rat problem. We knew it was a big one (a big rat, therefore a big problem) because we discovered he was moving aside our traps (even from one shelf to another), eating the trap food, and almost certainly laughing at us. And as bad as it was, I didn’t get too upset with him until he ate into my Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. That’s when he went to meddlin’. This was my Jiffy Mix that I brought all the way from the USA, of which I did NOT have an unlimited supply and which was absolutely not available at the local shop. This was war, and it was personal.
One day during the saga I heard what I can only describe as a scratching sound in the top of the stove. I opened it up and I caught a fleeting glance of the vile critter, but he scurried down a hole out of sight. Lucky for him I wasn’t much of a hunter; I was poised over the stove, a long shish-kebab skewer in hand, ready to do what I had to do to protect my family and my remaining Jiffy Mixes. Pause story. Go ahead and laugh—my loving wife did, and still makes fun of me for this. Restart story. Sadly, I could not coax him back up. I could only assume he had seen the skewer and was terrified. Time for plan B.
I pulled the stove away from the wall, surrounding it with pieces of cardboard covered in rat glue (which SEEMS humane until you catch one). Then I turned on the oven, hoping to smoke him out. After waiting a while without the criminal returning to the scene of the crime, we resigned ourselves to the fact that he had gotten away, turned the oven off and went about our business.
It was just a few minutes later when the scratching started again. So on went the stove a second time, and this time we struck gold; at least it led to some striking of a sort. The rat jumped out of the back of the stove and struck the sticky cardboard. He was the nastiest longest rat I’d ever seen – you need to know this. This was not a cute little white rat you might allow to run along the arm of your darling child. It was nearly as big as your cat and did I mention it was evil incarnate? I promptly made what could be described as a rat sandwich using another piece of sticky cardboard, put the sandwich in a bag, and took it quickly to the great outdoors. I’ll admit I’m not the most mushy-gushy when it comes to animals, but I’m absolutely not mean to them either – and there was no Noxubee Refuge nearby where I could release him. But this rat ate my Jiffy Mix. That was one less corn casserole in my life. I trust he enjoyed his last meal.
The original recipe, with some tested substitutions:
1 stick butter or margarine
1 8oz carton sour cream (or plain unflavored yogurt)
1 can cream corn
1 can Niblets corn (drained) (or any whole kernel corn)
1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (or similar mix of the same weight)
Melt the butter in a casserole dish. Add the sour cream and mix it up until it is homogeneous – that is, until the butter is no longer hovering about the sides by itself. Then stir in the Jiffy mix with a fork until all the dry mix is moist. Add both cans of corn and mix well. Bake at 350 for about an hour.
Jay Reed is a local foodie and pharmacist. The culinary tastes expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect the appetites of the Starkville Daily News or individual members of its staff. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .