Knowing my fondness for food oddities, a dear friend of mine who originally hails from Iowa – where the cult worship of corn might be considered to border on devotion – occasionally presents me with some archaic grain or obscure spice or the culinary equivalent of an abacus. Few surprises, however, are as eagerly received as a bag of dried corn. What exactly is dried corn, you might ask. I, too, once wondered the same thing because it sounds like something Pa Ingalls would have hitched his horses to the wagon for and picked up at Oleson’s Mercantile. Drying, I’ve since learned, was once the preferred way to preserve a fresh, sweet crop like corn. It’s harvested just as it’s about to mature and then air-dried. The result, once reconstituted, has a sweet, nutty, caramelized flavor with a pleasantly chewy texture. It’s also incredibly versatile: creamed corn, corn pudding, corn chowder, baked corn supreme, anyone? I gravitate toward stewed because you can keep it light – and vegan – letting the flavor of the corn take focus instead of the butter and cream called for in other recipes Plus, as good as it is for dinner, it’s strangely even better at breakfast: warmed in a little soy milk on a cold winter’s morning it’s Iowa’s corny answer to oatmeal.