As previously mentioned, we had a bitterly cold spell here a couple of weeks ago. In addition to the French Onion soup, I also made a Smokey Corn Chowder. I was excited to revisit this recipe because I’ve only made it once and that was several years ago, and it was nice hardy and decadent soup to fight off the chills.
The recipe is adapted from a Real Simple magazine issue from, well, several years ago.
- 16 oz Bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces (the recipe only called for 8 oz, but I had to do something with the other half of the package, right?)
- 1 large Onion, chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 20 oz Frozen Corn
- 3 lbs Potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
- 3 C low sodium Chicken Broth
- 1 C Half & Half
- Scallions, sliced on a bias for garnish (optional, i.e. I didn’t have any)
Over medium heat, cook the bacon in a stock pot until crisp.
Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel to drain. Remove all but 2 Tbs of the fat and return the pot to medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper, cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the corn, potatoes, broth, and half & half, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
With either a food processor or a stick blender, puree half of the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer soup to bowls and garnish with the bacon and scallions.
I prefer to tailor make up spice mixes as I go. But lately I’ve been trying to use up some of the spice blends that have been sitting around in my cupboard for way too long. What I’ve been doing is looking at what spices the recipe calls for and try and find one that matches the closest. In this case it was Penzey’s Jerk mix. I’ve got absolutely nothing against mixes (in fact, the Penzey’s line is quite superb), I just prefer to make it up as I go. I substituted around 2 Tbs of the Jerk seasoning for all of the spices in the above recipe. It turned out quite well.
I’ve been digging through my backlog of photos and I’ve found a bunch of single random ones that more-or-less fall into the category of “fall harvest.” So this is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge of a post. (yeah, somebody’s gotten into the thesaurus again)
Throughout summer and fall, Lindz was making semi-regular stops at the local farmer’s market and on one trip she picked up some gorgeous sweetcorn.
The most consistent way I’ve found to cook sweetcorn is to get a pot of water boiling, add the corn, and let it come back up to a full boil. I then let it cook for about a minute and then pull it out. This way the corn is still nice and juicy but doesn’t taste raw either.
I think it was the same trip that Lindz also picked up some delightful green beans. These I steam for about five minutes (checking often) so they come out nice and al dente. Toss with a pat of butter and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
I enjoy sausages anytime that I can get my grubby little hands on them, but for whatever reason, I always think of them as cold weather comfort food. I think they are best with either a spicy mustard or some horseradish (preferably homemade).
My boss, Steve, has really been into canning the last couple of years. This year he was working on perfecting his pickle recipe. He found a spicy pickle mix (I think it’s this one) at Mill’s Fleet Farm and gave me a jar to try. It definitely packed a nice punch of jalapeno with a good and crisp pickle. It was one of those nice burns that wasn’t too overpowering, but stayed with you for some time. The more you ate, the more intense it got too.
Mom picked up a half bushel box of peaches this fall and make most of it into jam. It didn’t last very long once Lindz and I opened it and got a taste.
Along with the usual jellies and jams that Mom made, she also did some salsa this year. Generally, I’m not a fan because the flavor usually seems dull and overcooked. Probably the same thing. This primarily applies to store-bought salsas. I prefer a nice pico de gallo (fresh uncooked salsa) any day of the week. However, the recipe that Mom used has me hesitating on my anti-salsa stance. It was a bit sweet (from the tomatoes), a bit spicy (just enough to round out the flavor), and a whole lot of tomatoey goodness.
And now for something completely different: Oreos.
Since the weather has been attempting to freeze my vitals off at work, I’m going to reminisce about a warmer time.
Every summer my family goes up to Lake of the Woods to visit and fish at my uncle’s cabin for a long weekend. This was an odd year for a couple of reasons. Work was a mess, so I couldn’t take off on Friday like everyone else, so I ended up driving six hours by myself after putting a full day. Caffeine and MPR Classical made for relaxing trip. I didn’t get up to the cabin until 2 a.m., but Lindz was a sweetheart and stayed up to wait for me. Also, this was the first year that Grandma Bert couldn’t make it up. She had just gone into the nursing home a couple of months prior. The whole weekend just felt a bit off because of it.
If I remember right, everyone came close to limiting out Saturday. (I only went out on Sunday).
As has been the custom for the last I don’t know how many years, we do a huge fish fry and meal on Saturday night.
My uncle Dennis has a really sweet set-up for frying fish. He’s got a large propane burner set up on a stand and a 18″ cast iron skillet. You can fry a lot of fish very quickly. Like I said, sweet set-up.
While most of the crew was out on the lake, I made some guacamole for supper (and to snack on while waiting for them to return). I was a little bit bummed out that most of the people weren’t too crazy about it. But I got over it pretty quickly by eating some more guac. I was also a bit confused about the so-so reaction because these are the people that regularly eat head-cheese, kraut, pickled pigs feet, herring . . . .
Pickles and cream is basically sliced cucumbers and onions done up as refrigerator pickles. Then you add heavy whipping cream and a bit of sugar (to taste) for the cream part. Now, this is going to sound really weird, but it is unbelievably delicious. You take the pickles and cream and put them on mashed potatoes and enjoy. Without a doubt, this is my favorite topping for taters. I like it even better than chicken gravy and I think chicken gravy is what the Greek gods referred to as ambrosia. Yes, the potato and pickles and cream combo is really that awesome.
Quasi-fake mint Oreo type cookies and monster cookie bars were the desserts that made it up north this year. To no one’s surprise, they disappeared by the time we left on Sunday afternoon.
Like I mentioned, I went out fishing on Sunday. We finally found a hot spot when we ran into a little engine trouble. Well, more of an electrical fire. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. There was a short in the wiring by the battery and it melted a bunch of the plastic insulation around some wires. Since the battery is in the same well as the engine, there was a whole lot of concern when smoke was spotted coming out of the hatch. The only thing affected was the down riggers, so we made it home without further incidence. But that did cut the fishing short. Oh, well.
On the plus side, I did pull in a couple of decent sized walleyes. Unfortunately they were in the size slot where we needed to toss them back (19.5″ to 28″). The one that got me was the one that measured 27.5″ I was sooo close to my own trophy walleye.