Each September, I mourn the passing of corn as much as any other part of summer. I love fresh-picked corn, so much so that I’ve probably gained three pounds this summer entirely from corn and butter.

It makes sense to pig out during the short corn season. Good fresh corn is one of the few things you absolutely cannot get off-season. Yes, you could say the same about good tomatoes, but I think those cherries that come in the mesh bag make a decent substitute. The same cannot be said about the corn you see in the supermarket in December.

My love affair with corn dates back to my college years, when I spent several wonderful summers working as a field hand at the Potomac Vegetable Farm in Northern Virginia. In those days, the farm was staffed by a hippiesque bunch of college kids who bunked in various rustic sheds and barns around the property. Sanitary facilities consisted of outhouses that were home to the most fearsome spiders, and bathing (when it occurred) took place in Moutoux’s Pond. It was a great time.

Cornpick started very early there. Each morning, we’d assemble in the chilly pre-dawn darkness and pile into a trailer hitched to a tractor. Soon we’d be rattling down the deserted highway towards the corn field, where we’d fan out behind the moving tractor, ripping ears from their stalks and tossing them into the trailer. By the time the sun was over the horizon, we were back at home base, sorting and packing for the wholesale market. If it was still cold, there might be a bonfire where we’d roast ears till the husks turned black and the kernels inside were toasted and sizzling.

Once a week, there was a big communal meal prepared by Hiu Newcomb, who owned the farm with her husband, Tony. One of Hiu’s regular dishes was delicious corn pudding. This recipe is a close approximation of hers that I’ve made many times since. It’s quick to assemble, can be cooking while you prepare the rest of the meal, and is a good way to use up leftover cooked corn on the cob.

LEFTOVER CORN PUDDING

1 tsp. butter
1 small onion, minced
½ cup cream
1 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
kernels cut from 3 ears of cooked corn
1 tsp. salt, pepper to taste
(optional seasoning: paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper)
½ cup grated cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the onion until soft. Pour the milk and cream into the pan and heat till warm. Add the eggs and seasonings, whisking till mixed.

Pour the mixture into a 1 ½ quart buttered baking dish. Mix in the corn and top with cheese.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the corn dish in a pan of hot but not boiling water, and slide into the center of the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes until the center is set.