White corn is often the preferred corn variety for use in Mexican-style and other corn-based foods including tortillas, corn flakes, corn meal, grits and hominy. Food-grade white corn is grown in several states, but Texas and Nebraska are the leading producers. Indiana, Illinois and Iowa also produce significant quantities of white corn. Today, we have a white corn grower from Illinois joining us for Thirty Days of Food. I decided to try a white cornmeal version of a southern staple, cornmeal pancakes! I have yet to visit and enjoy the amazing flavors of the South, but I have decided to try my hand at several of their specialities. This one is one I will make again, I actually liked these cornmeal pancakes WAY better than regular pancakes. They didn’t seem to get as mushy as regular pancakes when soaked in maple syrup, which is one of the reasons I am not a big pancake fan. These will be my go-to pancakes from now on!
When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
When I was 13. My dad farmed so I wanted to as well.
What chores did you have growing up?
Feeding and raising 100 to 120 feeder pigs, helping work the land, plant and harvest.
Are there any differences between your farm now and when you were a kid?
Today, we farm three times more land. The only pigs we have are my sons 4H pigs. And the crops we raise now yield better than they did 25 years ago.
Who farms with you and what are their roles?
My wife takes care the paperwork, keeps the house in line, and provides us good meals on the table or in the field. And my two sons help in general chores on the farm.
What has been the hardest part of farming for you?
The overwhelming cost that it is to put a crop out. High equipment cost as well.
What has been the most satisfying part of farming for you?
Being able to raise my family in an environment that teaches them hard work and that your work has rewards.
What crops (or animals) do you grow and why?
White corn, soybeans and some years soft red winter wheat. We also have a cow calf operation. In the area there is a good export market for white corn. It actually has a premium over yellow corn.
What do you think was the most useful advance in farming such as machinery, genetics, chemicals, etc.?
I think genetics would be number one. Machinery would be second by all the GPS, yield monitoring, planting and the efficiency in the equipment.
What is one thing you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do?
I try to produce a crop that I would take home to my family’s dinner table and eat. And that the cost of some the technology we use today to help us be more productive on less acres.
What advice would you give to anyone interested into getting into your field?
Be up to a daily challenge and sometimes be ready to be ridiculed for what you do.
What is your favorite memory about the food crop you grow?
When I take white corn to the elevator, sometimes I dump the load of corn straight onto the barge headed to the gulf.
You can find more from Randall over on Snapchat at OldCornFarmer or by following his Instagram at @HarcFarmer.
I served these pancakes with regular ole maple syrup, but feel free to dress them up with any pancake topping you’d like. Fruit or fruit syrup would be delicious too!
- 1 1/2 cup self rising flour
- 1 1/2 cup white cornmeal
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, milk, eggs, vanilla, and butter. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir to combine. If batter is overly thick, add a little more milk.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet or on griddle over medium heat. When melted and hot, pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Serve with butter and warm maple syrup over the top or however you like your pancakes, enjoy!