For the month of January (National Soup Month), Thursdays are our days to feature yummy, hearty soup recipes!  Today you can plan to warm up with a bowl of Zuppa Toscana, almost exactly like the Olive Garden makes!

Today’s fact:  The most popular theory of where the word “soup” originated is that it stems from the word “sop”. People would pour broth over a slice of bread which would “sop” up the broth.

Today’s tip:  To make soups or stews thicker, try adding a tablespoon or more of instant potatoes or one-half cup rolled oats or wheat flakes.

Today’s recipeZuppa Toscana Soup

zuppa toscana, soup, potatoes, kale(This is a rip-off recipe from the Olive Garden’s delicious soup.) 


1 lb Hot Italian Sausage, crumbled
4 strips bacon, crumbled
3 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
4 large potatoes, cubed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese


1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown sausage.  Drain and set aside.
2. In same skillet brown bacon.  Drain and set aside.
3. Place water, broth, potatoes, garlic, and onion in a pot.  Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
4. Add sausage and bacon to pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add kale and cream to pot, season with salt and pepper, heat through.
6. Add parmesan to individual servings.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

If you liked this recipe, check out my soup recipe from last week!


I’ll start this post off with a quick recap:

  • The US corn-based ethanol industry is currently arbitrarily capped at 15 billon gallons.  This is interesting since I think most of us think domestic renewable fuel is a good idea.
  • The US corn-based ethanol industry sought an increase in the amount of ethanol allowed per gallon of gasoline.  We typically call this “higher blends” and the EPA approved a higher blend of E15 for SOME cars back in October. 
  • The EPA is now considering what sort of label to stick on the E15 pump so that consumers understand that they are getting E15 instead of E10, E85, or diesel.

When the option for public comment on the proposed E15 label opened up, Illinois Corn Growers Association was right in line to offer our thoughts on the proposal.  If you’d like to read the comments in their entirety, you can download them here.

But to summarize, ICGA first and foremost believes the label to be unnecessarily alarming and misleading.  There is no “CAUTION!” label or skull and crossbones on diesel pumps, yet misfueling your car with diesel instead of E10 or E15 would have extremely more harmful effects than a misfueling with E15 when you intended E10.  We are proposing an informational label instead of a fear tactic.

We are also suggesting that the size, color, shape, and exact location of the label be flexible.  Illinois Corn recognizes that for higher blends of ethanol to work, the regulations need to be flexible so that petroleum marketers are not disadvantaged.  We also suggest that the US EPA and the Federal Trade Commission coordinate a label so that two versions aren’t floating around to make things more confusing than they already are.

Interestingly enough, many of the industries affected by the limited approval of E15 agree with us.  I recently attended a meeting of the Illinois Petroleum Council where we discussed the US EPA’s limited approval, the burdens it places on petroleum marketers and engine manufacturers, and the unnecessarily scary label. 

Funny how the pursuit of an agenda over science can bring industries together.

Dave Loos
ICGA/ICMB Ethanol Guru


I wouldn’t have been one single bit surprised to hear that Suzanne Somers was a plastic surgery expert.  But now, she’s acting as a nutritionist and an animal biologist and THAT surprises the heck out of me.

What exactly is she thinking?

Check out her interview on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly here (the interesting parts start just before 5 minutes in and get even better at 5:30 minutes) and then come on back so I can calm you down.

LIVE!, Somers, corn, grass-fed

Very obviously, she’s watched Food, Inc with their claims that cows get infections from eating corn.  Also just as obvious to me is that she has absolutely no biological education if she honestly thinks that eating corn causes e.coli in the gut.  I thought it was general knowledge that e.coli is spread in feces, but evidentally that’s one of those things that you learn by osmosis growing up on the farm.

Also, just as obviously, she doesn’t read our blog.  Why, just last week, I covered the fact that organic and conventionally produced foods have a lot of differences, but safety isn’t one of them!

The bottom line is, what will you do with this information?  All the housewives and stay at home moms in your town just got a dose of “corn is bad” this morning on their television sets.  Will you step out into your community with the facts?

Consider it a challenge.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


Please enjoy this new recipe from Beef on a Budget’s Anna-Lisa!

When Illinois Corn asked if I might like to contribute to their blog, I wanted to include corn in my recipe.  I thought about all of the ways that corn could be used and all the ways we use it most often.  I realized that there is one completely underused and underestimated corn product… corn flakes.  More than just a cereal they can be used in feed lot rations, desserts, potato casseroles, and most recently I discovered they are wonderful in meat balls! 

I thought why not grind them up and use them as bread crumbs in meat balls; they are the same consistency as bread crumbs right?  Well I tried it out and with a ranchy twist let me tell you they are the best meatballs I have ever fixed.  Give this non traditional use of corn a try and enjoy some delicious pasta too!

Sagebrush Meatballs

beef, pasta, corn
From the Ice Box:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 C Parmesan Cheese
3 Broccoli Crowns
From the Pantry:
2 C corn flakes
Equivalent of 1 Packet Ranch Seasoning
Spray Oil
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Tomato Sauce
Pour the corn flakes into a zip lock bag. Crush the corn flakes until they are as fine as bread crumbs.  An easy way to tell if they are fine enough is to pour them into a colander, if they can fit through those wholes keep crushing.
crush corn flakes

Combine the ground beef, milk, eggs, cheese, corn flake crumbs & ranch seasoning in a bowl.  Kneed until the mixture is blended.

beef, ranch, meatballs

Spray your baking stone with spray oil.  Roll the ground beef mixture into 1 inch balls.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake them at 350 for 30 minutes.

beef, meatballs

During this time boil the pasta water, and combine the chopped onion, garlic, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Let simmer the entire time the meatballs are baking.

 meatballs, beef, sauce, tomato

Once the pasta  water is boiling add a T olive oil.  This will keep the pasta from sticking together.  Next, break your favorite pasta into the boiling water.  Let me tell you a little secret about boiling pasta… it doesn’t take as long as you think and there is nothing worse than over cooked pasta. Boil just until it is tender then drain it.

I also served this with broccoli so I steamed the broccoli during this time as well.  If you have a broccoli steamer use that!  Other wise place the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl, add an inch of water, cover with saran wrap and put in the microwave for 6 minutes.

 broccoli, steamed

Once the meatballs are done, put them in a bowl and pour the tomato sauce over them.

meatballs, beef, budget

Let them sit for a few minutes and serve over pasta.

 meatballs, beef, budget meals

This meal is delicious, unique and a great way to use beef and corn together to make a wonderful meal.  I hope you enjoy!

beef, pasta, corn

Sagebrush Meatballs Cost

1 lb ground beef – $4.30
1/2 cup milk- $0.40
2 eggs- $0.30
1 C Parmesan Cheese- $0.30
2 C corn flakes – $0.40
Equivalent of 1 Packet Ranch Seasoning- $.100
Pasta- $1.00
1 Can Diced Tomatoes- $0.76
1 Can Tomato Sauce- $0.65
Broccoli- $1.20
Total Cost- $10.31 (Serves 5)
Cost Per Plate- $2.06

Anna-Lisa Giannini


Tim Lenz and beef herd

The Illinois Corn Growers Association immediate past President, Tim Lenz, manages a beef herd in what we’d call a “conventional” way.  These cows eat grass and corn, among other things I’m sure, before they reach market weight and head off to become hamburger.

These cows do not produce organic beef – and its a good thing.  Organic products haven’t been fairing real well in terms of safety lately.  Read more about that in this LA Times article or in this article about the Jimmy John’s incident.

The point?  American’s need a little more realism in their purchasing life.  Conventional food and organic food might have their differences, but safety isn’t one of them.

If you enjoyed this Friday Farm Photo, you might also enjoy:



January is National Soup Month! Makes sense; there couldn’t be a better time to come in out of the cold and warm up with a tantalizing bowl of comfort food!

Don’t forget to check back here every Thursday this month for a soup fact, tip and a new recipe to add to your culinary repertoire!

Today’s fact: American’s sip over 10 billion bowls of soup every year.

Today’s tip: If you need to tone down a heavy garlic flavor when cooking, place a few parsley flakes in a tea bag to soak up all the excess garlic.

Today’s recipe: Spicy Corn Chowder

corn, soup

If you need to tame down this spicy soup some to suit your taste-buds, simply substitute regular sausage for the hot and leave out the green chilies.


• 1 lb hot sausage
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 onion, diced
• 4 potatoes, diced
• 1 clove garlic, diced
• A few dashes of Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
• 4 cups fresh corn
• 1 can diced green chilies (optional)
• 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• salt and pepper, to taste


1. Slice corn kernels off cob. Or, if you’re like me, open the freezer and pull out a bag of corn from the summer when you had way too much sweet corn on your hands and let thaw.
2. Brown sausage over medium heat and drain off grease.
3. In a large pot, over medium heat, drizzle a few tablespoons of EVOO. Throw in diced onion, garlic and potatoes.
4. Add butter and melt. Add chilies and corn.  Pour in chicken broth and cream. Add salt, pepper and sausage. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
5. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


The first day of the 112th Congress began at 9 a.m. with a prayer service in the House, the election of a new Speaker, John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), and the official swearing in of the new members at 2:30 p.m.  The Senate was called to order at noon and sweared in their new members around 1 p.m.

The American people turned the U.S. Congress upside down in November 2010 and now we are officially on our way to see what changes have truly been made.

In Illinois, we look forward to working with five new members of Congress and one new member in the Senate.  Again, our congratulations to Cong. Joe Walsh (R-IL-8), Cong. Bob Dold (R-IL-10), Cong. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11), Cong. Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), Cong. Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) and Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL).  We can’t wait to work with every single one of you!

Illinois Corn is also celebrating the committee appointments of these five new members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the leadership positions garnered by some of our more senior members of Congress.

  • Joe Walsh, House Small Business Committee
  • Bob Dold, House Financial Services Committee
  • Adam Kinzinger, House Energy and Commerce Committee
  • Randy Hultgren, House Agriculture Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
  • Bobby Schilling, House Agriculture Committee
  • Aaron Schock, House Ways and Means
  • John Shimkus, SubCommittee Chair of Environment and Economy, House Transportatino and Infrastructure Committee
  • Tim Johnson, SubCommittee Chair of Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, House Agriculture Committee

Next week, we’ll review any changes or additions to other Illinois House and Senate members, but this was what I had available to date.  Feel free to send a quick message to your member of Congress congratulating them on their appointments!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

If you liked this post, check out:


To celebrate National Trivia Day, wow your friends with some of these incredible corn facts!

  • The U.S. produces about 40 percent of the world’s corn – using only 20 percent of the total area harvested in the world.
  • According to the USDA, one acre of corn removes about 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air in a growing season and – at 180 bushels per acre – produces enough oxygen to supply a year’s needs for 131 people.
  • Corn is produced on every continent of the world, except Antarctica.
  • In 1940, one American farmer produced enough to feed 19 people, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Today, one farmer feeds over 155 people world-wide.
  • The US exported 2,047 million bushels of corn from October 2009 – September 2010.
  • One bushel of corn weighs about 56 pounds.  That means U.S. farmers produce an average of more than 9,000 pounds of corn per acre.
  • An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows.
  • Corn farmers have reduced total fertilizer use by 10 percent since 1980.


Welcome!  Corn Corps is officially launching their new home at WordPress today!

For those of you that don’t like change, this might seem unnecessary. I know that you are still trying to get acclimated to the fact that we even HAVE a blog and now I’m going to change the address so that you can’t figure out where to go! There is a point to the move, I swear.

At WordPress, we will be able to customize our blog to accomplish exactly what we intend. Those customizations and changes will happen gradually over time as we learn more and more about blogs and how to best utilize them. We also have a lot more options to make our posts “searchable” so that more people happen upon us when they are searching things like “locks and dams” or “animal welfare.” This is a good thing; we should always hope that a general search will bring the empty vessels our way.

Of course, the blog is, and will likely always remain, a work in progress. Knowledge continues to grow, and with it, the changes to the blog that are necessary to keep us ahead of the game.

For those of you that have subscribed to Corn Corps via email, you’ve likely already noticed a change. You don’t need to do anything to continue receiving our updates and if you’ve clicked on any of the recent posts in your emails, you’ve probably already checked out the new page. For the rest of you that might have us bookmarked or be following us in a feed reader of some sort, be sure to update our address.

We look forward to seeiong you right here tomorrow and many more days to come! http://www.corncorps.wordpress.com/!