STOMACH AFFAIRS WITH YHUZY
Corn, (Zea mays) or maize is an edible grain; a cereal plant of the grass family (Poaceae). The maize crop is said to have originated in the Americas and is one of the most widely distributed of the world’s food crops.
Corn seed is a vegetable, a grain, and a fruit. Corn seed is a vegetable because it is harvested for eating. (Usually when it is harvested at the milk stage as sweet corn.) Corn seed is a grain because it is a dry seed of a grass species.
The plant is described as a tall annual grass with a stout, erect, solid stem. The large narrow leaves have wavy margins and are spaced alternately on opposite sides of the stem. It has the male and female parts of its body. The Staminate (male) flowers are borne on the tassel terminating the main axis of the stem. The pistillate (female) inflorescences, which mature to become the edible ears, are spikes with a thickened axis, bearing paired spikelets in longitudinal rows; each row of paired spikelets normally produces two rows of grain.
Corn has the yellow and white varieties which are the most popular as food. However, there are other varieties with red, blue, pink, and black kernels, often banded, spotted, or striped. Each ear is enclosed by modified leaves called shucks or husks.
It is rich in fiber and plant compounds that may aid digestion and eye health. Yet, it is high in starch; it can spike blood sugar and may prevent weight loss when consumed in excess. There are different types of corn that raises the eyebrows over their safety. There are the organic and the genetically modified corn which may also be a cause for concern. However, when eaten in moderation, ( like most other things), corn can be part of a healthy diet.
Many industrial varieties of corn are genetically modified for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate or to produce proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to kill specific insect pests. In addition, some strains have been genetically engineered for greater drought tolerance.
Corn or maize is cultivated in most warm areas of the world. To plant and grow your maize successfully, there are definite steps to follow:
This is about the land where your maize will be planted. In Nigeria, corn/maize is usually planted at the onset of the rainy season… (April/May) though some use irrigation and green house to plant year round. The plant requires a dry soil in the spring, but not a soil type that will dry out too much in late spring when the young plants are developing. Planting on heavy, clay-type soils is not highly recommended. However, medium loamy soils that are easy to work in the spring, free-draining and will warm up early in the season to enable the young plants to get the best possible start, are best advocated.
*Seed bed preparation
Maize is a free-rooting plant so there needs to be no restriction on root development in the early stages as it needs loose seed-bed. When planted in a wet March, water can hold under the furrows and can take a long time to dry out. The topsoil can look dry and good, but it’s important to look deeper down and see what conditions are really like.
Maize seed should be drilled to a uniform depth and into moisture. Soil temperatures should by 8C first thing in the morning for four to five consecutive days for maize to grow. The last 10 days of April should see all maize drilled, but climate will obviously depend on location.
This should be based on experience of what has already been grown or what is being grown successfully on farms where conditions are similar. Yield is important to the farmer growing forage maize and must be a high priority in variety choice.
This could be done manually or post-emergence herbicides could be used.
Don’t delay weed control so that they don’t start out-competing maize. Maize is very poor at competing with weeds in its earliest stages of development so this must be avoided.
Nitrogen is main food and a lot of crops just don’t get enough because of an over-estimation of what the slurry can provide.
For maize, the requirements are:
180kg/ha of potash
40kg/ha of phosphate
150kg/ha of Nitrogen
Although these will vary depending on soil indices or where large quantities of FYM or slurry have been applied there should be no requirement for P and K. The farmer therefore needs to know precisely what nutrients have been applied by slurry or FYM.
*Dealing with pests and disease.
When maize follows grass there can be pest problems such as wire worms, otherwise, maize is a relatively pest-free crop to grow. Insecticide dressings can be applied at drilling and there is a fungicide dressing to prevent rotting of the newly drilled seed.
Once harvested, maize should be dried (with a mechanized drier or in the field) as much as possible to ensure that it reaches safe moisture level and can then be stored properly. Once the products have reached the safe moisture content, they can be stored permanently in:
~A thin layer.
~A maize crib.
When stored, there is need to:
~Control the temperature
~Keep cool in hot regions
~Check the grain frequently
~Watch for insects
For domestic use, get the maize frozen in an airtight moisture high barrier film, corn or maize will keep indefinitely. Another way to store it is to keep at refrigerated temperatures at 32-40°F at a relative humidity of 55-65% for one year.
Be careful and remember that warm, damp conditions will cause mold to grow and a bad flavor and odour to develop.
Corn is nutritious, providing fiber, which aids in digestion, plus folate, thiamin, phosphorus, vitamin C, and magnesium (about 10% of the daily value for each).
Corn is high in carbs but relatively low in protein and fat.
Corn can be eaten in a variety of ways:
1. The popular boiled or roasted corn, usually eaten with pear or coconut
2. Koki or Ikpakpaa
This is simple and sweet because it is made with only four ingredients – fresh corn, corn meal, spinach (or any vegetable of choice) and palm oil. The fresh corn is coarsely ground, mixed with corn meal, spinach, palm oil then wrapped in banana leaves or foil paper and steamed. In 45 minutes, your food/snack is ready.
3. Ukpo Ogede
This is another simple but delicious cuisine made with a combination of ripe plantain and corn flour with palm oil and salt to taste. These ingredients are usually mixed together to in a bowl, till it comes to a smooth dough.
Then cut into bits as desired, use corn leaves to wrap. Place in a pot and cook for about 30 minutes.
4. Corn meal
Nigerians have ways of preparing corn into pudding, or meals that can be eaten with choice soup.
To make the porridge, just make a loose paste of the corn flower, add hot boiling water to it until it achieves the desired consistency. That is your favourite Akamu or ogi which you can sweeten and enjoy with moimoi, Akara, kosai etc.
In a large bowl, combine the solid ogi and 1/4 cup cold water. Mix thoroughly until you have a thick paste. Add the boiling water into the pap paste a little at a time while simultaneously mixing the pap. The resulting mixture will thicken. Stop adding water as soon as desired texture is achieved. Turn off heat and dish into plates Corn, or maize is cultivated in most warm areas of the world. 1for desired shapes and sizes (eko), or wrap with local leaves (agidi) allow to cool. Eat with any soup or !akara/moimoi.
For your favourite nni oka, the above procedure has a bit of cassava flour added to it to achieve a drawing consistency. Nni oka is a good match with draw soup.
5. Buttery Cornbread
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 scant teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup corn (canned or cooked, drained)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (well shaken)
1 large egg
6 tablespoons butter (melted, divided)
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a cast-iron skillet in the oven to heat for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, if using, baking powder, salt, and soda. Whisk to blend ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the corn kernels.
In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk and eggs together until well blended. Whisk in 4 tablespoons of the melted butter.
Carefully take the hot skillet out of the oven and set it on a rack. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Swirl the pan slightly to cover the bottom with the butter. Combine the dry ingredients with the buttermilk mixture until blended.
Pour the batter into the pan and return the pan to the oven. Bake the cornbread for 23 to 26 minutes, or until it is golden brown and crusty along the sides.
Who undermines the efforts of the corn/maize to remain a staple and a vital part of everyday menu. It is surprising that some communities in the south east have preparations from corn (ukpo ogede and nni oka) as special servings for special people at events. That’s the extent to which corn are elevated.