Especially murder mysteries. I don't know why, specifically, but she loved to read (and re-read) her mystery books. There were whole summers where I can only remember her sitting on the couch with two stacks of books nearby, one shrinking, one growing. She loved to pick apart the mystery in her head as she read along. My guess: she probably knew who did it as soon as the author did.
She was a smart cookie :)
These weren't any mysteries either--she definitely had her favorite authors. She loved the Judge Dee stories by Robert van Gulik. She would check out the books-on-tape from the library and we would listen to them in the car on long drives. Sometimes they were kind of intense for us kids, but they were still great stories. And hey--they kept us quiet, mostly.
I don't recall any books by Agatha Christie on her thickly populated paperback shelves, but I know she also loved the A&E Poirot series with David Suchet, and we would watch them while doing all sorts of things--Christmas baking, spring cleaning, painting, sewing, decorating for a party or baby shower or dinner. Oftentimes, it would happen that those who hadn't seen the episode before, or hadn't seen it several times (i.e., most of us), would end up sitting down to watch the thing through while Momma worked. It's hard to follow a detective story while doing something else if you don't know the ending, after all :) She didn't mind, I think. Listening to the movies helped her work.
Her other favorite detective was Nero Wolfe, an overweight eccentric who lives in mid-century Manhattan. With him in his 4-story brownstone live his cheeky, handsome, and rascally assistant, Archie Goodwin, a Swiss chef named Fritz ("Freetz"), an entire floor devoted to his orchids, and a full-time assistant orchid tender, Theodore. Wolfe loves fabulous food, good beer, Iranian saffron, and great books, and hates onions, anchovies without heads, boiled corn, Spanish saffron, and women-in-general. Eccentric is an understatement ;)
When I "got into" reading a bit more (sometime in high school), I decided to try one of her murder mystery books, just to see what it was like. I picked Rex Stout's Some Buried Caesar. For those of you who know Wolfe and Archie, Some Buried Caesar is the book where Archie meets Miss Lily Rowan :) I was hooked. I love Stout's quick-moving writing style and the bits of himself that he cast into both Wolfe and Archie (mostly Archie).
As I read more and more books, I began to realize (to myself, of course) that Momma reminded me a lot of Nero Wolfe. At least, she reminded me of him in some ways. She hated onions, too, and she liked whole anchovies. She didn't have a particular affinity to orchids, but she was very particular in other ways, and was never afraid to let you know exactly what she thought. I miss her.
"But," you're thinking, "What does all this have to do with Wolfe's corn?" And you are right to ask. I promise this post has a point. A&E also made a series for the Wolfe mysteries and Momma and I both bought the full collection. Just like Momma, when I need to get some good work done, I put on my mysteries to listen to as I putter around the house cleaning, cooking, tidying, and folding. For some reason, they keep me on task.
In one of the episodes, centered around a delivery of not fresh summer corn, Wolfe rails against the evil of boiling corn on the cob in water on the stove. While Inspector Cramer just wants to find the murderer, Wolfe goes on about the perfect way to prepare corn.
Here, then, is Wolfe's recipe as taken from the episode. I have to admit, he's absolutely right. This is the best way to prepare fresh summer corn on the cob:
"Boiled in water, sweet corn is.. edible, and nutritious. But roasted in an oven, at the hottest possible temperature for 40 minutes. Shucked at the table. Buttered. Salted. Nothing else! Ambrosia."
Pretty simple, right? :)
First, though, I trim off all the corn-silk scragglies so they don't smoke up my oven too much (warning: your kitchen will smell like roasting corn husk).
I roast them at about 500 degrees, put 'em right on the rack, and set the timer for 40 minutes. That's it. No tending, no turning. Just let them roast contentedly.
Unlike Wolfe, and probably because I just have a smaller dining space that he does, I don't shuck the corn at the table. But I do shuck it in the kitchen, right before we all sit down to eat, and I let each diner butter and salt it for himself.
It's quite a treat, this summer corn thing :)