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Cooking Techniques for Corn-on-the-Cob

Updated on July 21, 2016

American Recipes for Corn

Fresh corn-on-the-cob is a summertime favorite with American recipes, and it’s often a welcome guest at picnics, low-country boils, and cookouts. In fact, many people eat this treat all year, or whenever they can get it! In the colder months, we corn lovers usually have to settle for the frozen version, which is certainly preferable to no corn at all.

The directions for cooking frozen corn are plainly printed on the package, but what about the fresh ears? How about leftover cooked ears? I've grown, cooked, and eaten corn-on-the-cob for decades, and I've done a bit of experimenting. There's no telling how I might prepare my ears of corn - it largely depends on what else I'm cooking. Below are some great ways for cooking corn-on-the-cob, including some traditional methods and some not-so-traditional methods. Oh, and before we go any further, here in the South, the outside coverings of an ear of corn are "shucks" - not "husks"!

Flavorings to Use

Flavorings that compliment or enhance the taste of corn include basil, garlic, nutmeg, oregano, marjoram, cilantro, bacon, chives, horseradish, parmesan, rosemary, honey, and onion. If you want to add some heat to your corn, try chipotle powder, chili powder, ground red pepper, diced jalapenos, tabasco sauce, or cayenne. My personal favorite is a compound butter I make with lime juice and chipotle.

Be creative! Experiment with different flavor combinations for your corn. It won't take you long to discover your favorites.

pan-fried corn-on-the-cob
pan-fried corn-on-the-cob

Pan Fried

Pan frying is a great way to warm leftover corn that has already been cooked. It also works well with thawed corn from the freezer.

To pan-fry ears of corn, heat butter in a large pan over medium heat and add the ears of corn. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and cook until corn is hot, turning ears frequently.

If you want to do this the old-fashioned Southern way, use bacon drippings - or as we say here in Georgia, "bacon grease" - instead of butter.

deep-fried corn
deep-fried corn

Deep Fried

This is an easy way to cook corn when you’re deep frying other foods. Simply lower the shucked, clean ears of corn in the hot oil and cook until brown. The fried kernels will be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

 

batter-fried corn
batter-fried corn

Batter-Fried Corn

Can you get any more Southern than this? This is almost overkill when it comes to deliciousness!

Clean, damp ears of corn can be rolled in flour and seasoned before deep frying. If you want more coating, dip the ears in milk or an egg wash before flouring. Drop into hot peanut or canola oil and fry until corn is golden brown.

boiled corn ears
boiled corn ears

Boiled Corn-on-the-Cob

Boiling is an easy, time-honored method for cooking ears of corn. Shuck and remove silks from corn ears and drop into boiling water. Cover and cook until desired tenderness. If you want soft, tender ears, cooking time is about 7 minutes.

To add flavor and make your corn more interesting, try adding a bag of shrimp and crab boil to the water! Be careful about adding salt, however, as too much can make the kernels tough.

steamed corn
steamed corn

Steamed Corn

Steamed corn-on-the-cob will be crisp yet tender if done correctly. Place clean corn ears in a steamer basket and simmer. Cover and steam for 15-20 minutes. You'll know the corn is ready to eat when a gently pressed kernel erupts in liquid.

corn cooked in the microwave
corn cooked in the microwave

Corn in the Microwave

Corn can be cooked in the microwave in or out of the shucks. If you prefer to cook shucked corn, wrap each ear in moist paper towels. Microwave on high, turning the corn about halfway through cooking. Cooking time depends on how many ears you’re cooking at the time and on your microwave’s power. A single ear usually takes around 5 minutes, while several ears might take as long as 15 minutes.

For another delicious way to cook corn in the microwave, view the video below:

grilled in the shucks
grilled in the shucks

Grilled in the Shucks

Grilling corn in the shucks helps the ears retain their fresh, "corny" taste. Soak ears in cold water for an hour before cooking. Place a heavy plate on top of the corn to keep it under water.

Place the corn on a medium grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning ears frequently to allow for even cooking. You'll know the corn is done when the shucks begin to pull away from the tip of the ear.

 

More tips for grilling corn

ears of corn grilled naked
ears of corn grilled naked

Grilled Naked

If you prefer a chewier texture, try grilling the corn naked. Don’t remove your clothes before grilling – it’s the corn that’s “naked.” Remove shucks and silks and soak corn in cold water for an hour before cooking. Place the ears on a slow grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. For a smokier flavor, lower the grill lid as the corn cooks.

This method can also be used for leftover corn that was boiled or steamed. Simply place the ears on a hot grill and cook until thoroughly heated.

 

corn grilled in foil
corn grilled in foil

Grilled in Foil

This is a great way to cook corn on the grill because butter and seasonings can be added before cooking. The corn steams in the air-tight foil, so it turns out tender and juicy.

For this cooking method, remove shucks and silks and wrap each ear tightly in aluminum foil. Salt, pepper, butter, and other flavors can be added before closing each pouch. Grill for about 15-20 minutes.

Slow-Cooked on a Smoker

For a delicious smoky corn flavor, soak whole ears of corn in cold water for 4-5 hours, shucks and all. Rub the outside of the ears with canola or olive oil and place on the smoker. Fill the smoker’s water pan with water and smoke ears for about 2 hours.

This is a great way to cook ears of corn when you already have the smoker fired up for other foods, like meats. Add a foil pouch of mixed veggies, and you can cook your entire meal at the same time!

 

baked corn-on-the-cob
baked corn-on-the-cob

Baked in the Oven

Baking corn in the oven is perfect for times when you're cooking too many ears to fit into a boiling pot or on the grill.

Remove shucks and silks from the ears. Place several ears on heavy aluminum foil. I’ve found that packs of 4 ears or less are easier to handle. You might want to wrap each ear individually, instead. Add butter, salt, pepper, or other flavorings and seal the ears carefully in foil packs. Place the packets on a baking sheet and cook at 425-450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the ears.

Corn ears can be roasted in the oven in their shucks.
Corn ears can be roasted in the oven in their shucks.

Roasted in the Oven

Roasting corn in the shucks results in a sweet, garden-fresh taste. Some cooks prefer roasting the ears in their full shucks, but I usually modify the fresh ears a bit so that they take up less room in the oven.

For my method, remove both ends of each ear of corn with a sharp knife. Pull off the outermost layer of shucks and the silks. Soak the ears in water for an hour. Place the corn directly on the top rack of a preheated 350-degree oven and cook for about 30 minutes

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    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      Habee, some new ways to torture corn, is always welcome here. I liked the idea of the microwave in a bag, looked tasty. I've got hands on forest of Mesquite wood here so I've built a small smoker out of a 500 gallon propane tank. So I load that dude up with at least 175 pounds of meat. It rolls along at 195-210 degrees at rack height.

      I know this sounds like an insult to "fresh corn" but, I take it with all the shucks on and freeze it, and before I load the rack I throw 10 or 20 full ears still frozen in the bottom of the smoker, the temp is about 120 down there. The fire is in a separate area at one end and cross drafts out the top of a smoke stack at the opposite end. Any who, the corn gets to stay down there about 6 hours and it turns out awfully good. I've tried soaking it overnight, and while it is good, I find it is better this way. No such thing as bad corn. I don't know if the freezing opens up the corn as the moisture crystallizes or what but it seems to draw in much more of the flavors of the dripping fat and wood. 50

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      Who knew there were so dang many ways to cook it? I love corn and now I'm starving for some! Probably the only thing I haven't bought to cook in the next 4 days so now I'll have to make a corn run.....great job!

    • ralwus 6 years ago

      Hmmm. don't like it boiled anymore unless it is with crawfish and potatoes. Love it steamed and grilled or cooked in the belly of a pig. You have learned me some new things to try, but it seems to always come out the same way in the toilet.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      I never would have dreamed there are so many ways to cook corn, and they all sound terrific!

    • liswilliams profile image

      liswilliams 6 years ago from South Africa

      wow, quite a list you have there, habee, will try some more original ways cause I'm finding the old mielie(s.african) a bit boring in the the microwave now :)

    • Mystique1957 profile image

      Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

      Holle...

      Great hub, mouth watering! Did you know that thanks to our aborigine ancestors, our diet here in South America contains corn and corn foods? Not only the cob style, but also, white, yellow and toasted corn flour. The techniques sound delicious indeed. Rated up, useful and awesome.

      Warmest hugs and infinite heavenly blessings,

      Al

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

      I was amazed by the different methods of cooking corn.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Do you know how to cook corn? hahaha Don't you dare hit me.

    • lctodd1947 profile image

      lctodd1947 6 years ago from USA

      Habee, I am a from the south also and yes they are shucks...We love boiled corn on cob and I did not know the many other ways to cook this stuff. I will have to try some of these. I have had the battered and fried corn before and it is delicious.

      I will bookmark this page..really good hub. Thanks for sharing. Linda

    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

      Great ideas, Habee. Definitely a "little corny"! LOL

      Thanks for sharing. I usually just throw it in a pot and boil!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Never dreamed, habee, there were so many different ways to cook corn, my favorite vegetable. I used to just boil them in water but now wrap each ear in a moist paper towel and heat on high in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Tastes much better than the boiled version.

      Thanks for this meaningful hub and the beautiful graphics.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      This was my favorite vegetable hub so far.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      Corn On the Cobb, now your talking... :)

    • gramarye profile image

      gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

      Great hub! I love corn and had never thought of some of these cooking methods.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I never had deep fried corn... that's probably not gonna be a favorite, but I love it grilled!!

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 6 years ago from australia

      Omg you always get my tastebuds going like you would not believe. I just adoreeeeeeeeeeeeeee corn on the cob. What a beauty.

    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 6 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      Corn on the cob rocks. Blake4d

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

      I love corn on the cob. I usually eat it plain - boiled, steamed, or grilled. Now you have given me new ideas!

      Thanks very much for these new yummy treats Habee!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

      I didn't know I could cook corn on the cob in the microwave! lol I usually boil it and then eat it the next day. I like it cold and plain. Maybe I'll have to be adventurous and try some flavoring! lol

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Super cooking ideas, some of which I never heard of, like the batter-fried cob. I added a link to here from my Hub on keeping the sweet in summer's sweet corn. Thumbs up!

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

      I love corn on the cob. I usually boil mine on the stove but for a barbaque we grill it in the Shucks. We just soak it in water for a few minutes first.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      Habee, this hub is either going to be the judges pick or going to be voted number one by the readers. A delicious hub!!!

    • msannec profile image

      msannec 6 years ago from Mississippi (The Delta)

      All right Habee, now you're talking! I absolutely love corn on the cob. Boiled and grilled are my favorite ways, now I have some new techniques to try. Thanks for sharing.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Wow! Who knew there were so many ways besides boiled and grilled in husks?!! Great info!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Thanks for all the techniques for corn on the cob.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 6 years ago from Florida

      Fried corn? Who would have thought it?

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      50, "torture corn." Love it! Your method sounds great, too!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Buckie! Randy Godwin is supposed to bring me some SIlver Queen. If you were closer, I'd share with you!

    • ralwus 6 years ago

      I got my Peaches and Cream planted finally, rain delays. Now it will be the first of Sept. for my crop, will be worth the wait. You have been humping on this contest girl, good luck to you. x

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Ewww, Charlie! Bad boy!

    • ralwus 6 years ago

      LOL why bad? I can't help it the ground was so saturated and muddy.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading, Sheila! You get an A in my online cooking school!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Lis, thanks for stopping by!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, Al! Thanks a bunch!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Good to see you, HP!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      HH, my arms aren't long enough!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Linda! See? We Southern gals know what we're talking about! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Seakay, I cook corn all different ways - depends on my mood and what else I'm cooking!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      drbj, thanks a bushel! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Katie! Good to see ya!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Gramarye, give 'em a try!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      chris, you might be surprised!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, BP!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Totally agree, Blake!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      You're welcome, Jill!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      cold, Herbi? Is that legal??

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Sally, I linked your hub to mine, too!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Wendy, I like it that way, too!

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 6 years ago

      wow, battered fried corn sounds cool.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      UH, thanks for your support!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Charlie, Randy's Silver Queen is ready now. Can't wait to bite into an ear!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Anne, let me know how you like them!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Lizzy!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading, Sandy!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Quildon, we'll fry anything here in the Deep South! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      charlie, you can always make me smile!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Research, it's almost too much of a good thing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Habee, I wanted to congratulate you on you win! I love this particular hub because I love fresh corn. Those fabulous pictures made my mouth water! I like it anyway you can cook it and am glad it is finally in season.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 6 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Marvelous Hub habee! We get fresh corn here and i love to use corn in many of my recipes. But i have not tried many of your techniques. Thanks for the share.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Habee, thanks so much. I absolutely am wild about corn!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      Wonderful ideas here, Holle, thanks os much for sharing them. In my childhood in the rural Transkei area of South Africa one of my favourites was what we called "umbona ukoja" (the isiXhosa for roasted mealies, as we call corn). Which we then Anglicised to "ojaed mealies"! Such corn cobs are still sold in the urban areas on many a street corner by vendors, usually middle-aged women, whoc do a roaring trade at lunch times.

      Thanks again for the memory jogger!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • bladesofgrass profile image

      bladesofgrass 6 years ago from The Fields of Iowa

      Oh my gosh! I did not know you could cook corn on the cob so many different ways. Definitely going to tried the deep fried method..looks delicious. Thank you for a great Hub! :)

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Looking good Habee, love your pictures more and more! Not liking that you making me hungry again thoug, jk! haha. Great hub.

    • liswilliams profile image

      liswilliams 6 years ago from South Africa

      looks like another winner, habee! ps. well done on crossing the 600 hub mark, I don't know how you do it! :)

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for sharing all these wonderful ways to fix corn. I've boiled, grilled and baked corn but I've never tried frying it.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Me, too, Pam! I had some last night!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for stopping by, Anamika!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      I am, too, Bpop!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      tony, isn't it funny how so many of our memories are joged by foods? thanks, pal!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Blades, your kind words are much appreciated!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Sorry, Ocean! c'mon' over and make youself a plate!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Lis, I really appreciate your support!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Nancy, I think all Georgians love corn!

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

      Yummie, as a kid, corn was my favorite vegetable. Although, I'm a contender as well, I wanted to stop by and offer congrats, my friend, on being selected as one of the nominees in the Hubalicious contest this week. :)

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, MG! Congrats to you, too! Great set of hubs this week!

    • strutzas profile image

      strutzas 6 years ago from Kualapuu, Hawaii

      I was impressed with this different methods of cooking corn.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

      Hi habee, Congratulations, I am humbled to be fitted with you, cos you are the best cook hehe, truly deserving, Maita

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Congrats, habee--totally well deserved with such great illustrations and plenty of methods. I would love to live in your family--such a great creative cook!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, strutzas!

      Oh, Maita, you always say the sweetest things!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, thanks, Anglnwu!

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      Jenny Wolf 6 years ago from Point Pleasant, New Jersey

      I have seen many of these, but PAN FRIED!!! That was a first for me, now I have to actually try it and get back here with a review. Thanks again Habee for the killer Hubs!!!

      Jenny

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Prolly find the fried only in the South, Jenny! lol

    • sheila 5 years ago

      yeah we definitely deep fry it here in new orleans as well as grill n boil but thanks for the other ideas im definitely going to give them a try

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      My mouth is really watering. Our family uses the boiling method a lot, and healthfulness isn't the only reason. I better try pan-frying, but with Smart Balance! LOL!!!

    • franceshd 4 years ago

      YUMMY !

      Corn (especially on the cob) is my FAVE veggie!

      about 6 years ago I first heard about cooking it in the microwave. I was skepical, but once I tried it - WOW ! Have never gone back to any other way.

      I have a 1200 watt micro so it doesn't take very long and heats up the house less than boiling.

    • Riyuke 3 years ago

      Chere Kenza, vous avez un bon blog, je suis tres content parce que je suis ton foellwor...Je te remercie pour une fois encore pour sa commentaire, vous etes tres douce. Merci... Enfin, il y a un translation pour mes amies etrangers,(=translate) alors, a bientot a ton blog!!!

    • Ravi 3 years ago

      Because as much as I love my home of Asheviile NC, daily swimming in a human sea of feelce and capilene makes one feel the need to stand out and make waves with a Channel Marker Plaid Sport Shirt or a classic Skipjack.And I basically love Greenville. ;)

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 18 months ago from Scotland

      I was preparing tuna pasta with salad but no tins of sweetcorn left. Tragedy!! But low and behold there were 2 corn cobs in the fridge.

      "How do I cook them I thought? "

      Well! Thanks for the answer Habee. :-)

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