The summer weather we’re having is about as close to perfect as possible. Last night we had a nice rain that cut the humidity and cooled everything and everyone off once more.

My 16-year-old sister, Mary Grace, who lives next door is here helping me for the day. We are doing cleaning in preparation for Daniel’s family from Danville, Ohio who plan to come for a visit this weekend. We’re excited to see them again. We also did some cooking today. With mashed potatoes being one of Daniel’s favorite hot dishes, we made a huge batch. Then divided it into small containers to be frozen. It’s very handy to thaw and heat at a moment’s notice.

Our 2 1/2-year-old daughter Julia is in her glory. Mary Grace helped her bake caramel apple cupcakes and now they’re working on her favorite part which is, of course, putting sprinkles on top of the frosting.

On Monday morning after doing the laundry I checked the sweet corn and found it to be golden yellow, ready for harvest. Obviously the coon had discovered the same thing the night before but it fortunately hadn’t done a lot of damage yet.

Have you ever heard of husking corn right on the stalk? This simplifies the task and saves a lot of time. With both hands, firmly grasp the husk on top of the ear then put it down to the base of the cob and snap it off. After doing several with this method you wont’ want to go back to the old way of picking everything then husking it all.

Earlier this morning on my walk I noticed Dad picking corn in their patch. I talked with Mom and found out they have lots of corn that needs to be done. I took our corn down to her house. We pooled everything together, it makes the task so much more fun when working with others. She had a good set-up in her back yard where we washed, blanched and cut the corn from the cobs. Their set of 3 burners, attached to a propane tank had thecorn boiling in no time!

Here’ a tip for simplifying the cooking process, especially if you have mega amounts of corn: use an old pillowcase or make your own sack, put 20-30 ears of corn in it and submerge in boiling water. Hold the top part of the sack up out of the canner, place lid on top and flip the remaining part over the lid. When ready to remove the corn from the canner, instead of doing it piece by piece, grasp the sack and lift it all out at once. Dump the corn into cold water and proceed like you generally do.

This morning at the crack of dawn Daniel was up and ready to tackle our new project. He’s starting to build a deck behind our house trailer which I’m very excited about. With living in a mobile home we have limited space hopefully this will add a new dimension to it.

Next year we’d like to build a roof over it and have part of it screened in. It’ll be a nice place to eat supper on hot summer evenings. I also look forward to doing some of my canning out there as well.

I decided Daniel deserves a special treat with all the hard work he’s doing so I made chocolate coffee smoothies for him. They are always refreshing, especially on summer days.

I will include our recipe in case some of you may be interested in trying it. After experimenting this is what we came up with. We use maple syrup as our sweetener. My brother, Micah, taps maple trees and cooks large quantities of syrup, so we always have an ample supply of it. Perhaps I can fill you in on more details in a future column.

Sugar may be replaced with maple syrup if desired. Also for those of you who are peanut butter lovers like me you may want to add a dab of peanut butter

Chocolate coffee smoothies

3 cups ice cubes or frozen milk chunks 1 cup whole milk 1 /2 cup maple syrup 2 teaspoons instant coffee 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup 1 /2 teaspoon vanilla

Put everything in a hand-cranked or electric blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses, top with a dab of whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

Gloria Yoder lives in a traditional Amish community in Illinois. You can read more about The Amish Cook and find other recipes at