Kernels of Light

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

   I have fantastic news. Exciting, fun, giggly, amazing news. I have a new job....


   I can hardly believe it. It is still in medicine, in a different specialty that is near and dear to my heart. As a child (a shy and, sure, sometimes weird child) I fancied myself a scientist, a whisperer of microscopes and all things strange and molecular. As an awkward but fascinated college student I spent countless hours at the bench, looking over slides of onion root (it's gorgeous, trust me) and different plant pollens (nature's airplanes!).

   Now, what feels like many years later, I am fortunate enough to be departing from one specialty and embarking on a career as a pathologist. This change has been a long time in the making, involving a lot of anxiety, thought and hard work. Now that the day for a little positive change has finally arrived, I couldn't be happier or feel more fortunate. I have so many amazing, supportive people in my life, both personal and professional, and I feel overcome with gratitude and hope for the future.

   To celebrate, I have, of course, a recipe to offer you. It's one of the first southern foods I fell in love with and therefore quite fitting with which to celebrate a return to my first love in medicine. I present to you- succotash! Just saying succotash makes me smile; it's one of those silly and whimsical names that's easy to imagine a child came up with many years ago.

   Succotash can have many guises, but at its most basic it is a saute of corn and some kind of bean. I like mine with tomatoes and onion for depth and color, and I like to use one of my absolute favorite beans- the baby lima, aka butter bean. Quality baby limas can be hard to find fresh and so I encourage you to buy them frozen. They taste just as good and frozen vegetables are often picked and flash frozen at their peak season. Flavor won't be sacrificed, trust me.

   That said, frozen corn is an absolute no for this recipe. Corn straight from the field, freshly peeled and kernels cut from the cob is a flavor that is quintessential summer to me. Growing up, my summers were spent sweating it out in the hay fields and barns. Lots of manual labor was a given, but if I got to end my day with three or four butter drenched cobs of corn, I was a happy girl. This succotash is like that buttery, drippy, messy cob of corn, only all grown up and dressed in its Sunday best.

   That's enough talk. Go forth. Make succotash.

Summer Succotash

1 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, divided
coarse kosher salt, to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4-5 ears of corn on the cob
11-12 ounces frozen baby lima beans

   Heat the olive oil and one tablespoon butter over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan or dutch oven. Add the onions and about 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until translucent but not starting to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
   Add the tomatoes and cook at a simmer, covered, for about 5-10 minutes. You want the tomatoes to break down and start to make a sauce. Stir occasionally during this to make sure the bottom isn't scorching.
   Meanwhile, peel your corn and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off in sheets. Add the corn kernels and lima beans to the pot along with the second tablespoon of butter. Simmer, covered, another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt to your liking.
   I like to serve this with oven roasted fish and mashed potatoes.


  1. Had this with lobster for my birthday! Delicious! Made for each other. Perfect combination of North meets South!

  2. That sounds delicious :) We'll have to try it with some crab or shrimp down here! Happy birthday!