Sunday, 3 November 2013

on chowder...and organisms

yesterday i had a hankering for chowder
not the restaurant kind
[although the Distillery does do a good one...and besides
it would have been a helluva long bus trip from here]

i like cooking chowder
it is a nourishing activity, metaphorically and otherwise
when i visit with friends they often let me play in their kitchens
and cook chowder, because they know that being allowed to do so
makes me a nicer bear to have around

this one turned out to be in the top 9 that i've cooked
in the spirit of whirled peas and general happiness
i thought i would share what i did
[even though some key ingredients were not available]

i browned some butter in a big and heavy based pot.
then i tossed in a generous quantity of finely minced garlic
[i'm a dab hand with a knife, though not nearly as dabby as my Precious]

when the garlic was golden and fragrant
i gave it company
in the form of chopped carrot, sliced celery and two carefully cubed Yukon Gold murphies

i stirred all these volunteers in the butter until they were nicely caramelized [i have a thing about caramel, as my students today observed]
then i sprinkled in a goodly handful of

which happened to be in the selection of supplies that OCAC - through the good offices of Arthur de Bow, manager of residencies - had provided on my arrival

this made an excellent wheat-free roux [i'll let you know some time how it performs in gumbo]

i stirred the mixture over a reduced heat for as long as it takes to sing "summertime" though once

then i poured in
a brew i had been making on the side
which contained

more celery
a good handful of dill stalks
a similarly good handful of basil stalks
two bay leaves
some peppercorns
sea salt
the carrot trimmings
the skin of the piece of hot smoked salmon i was planning to add to the chowder

i strained the brew but fished out the bay leaves and transferred them to the main cauldron


i simmered it all together for about half an hour
[that was as long as i could stretch my cocktail* for]
then i added sweetcorn. usually i would slice this fresh from the cob but there was no cob lurking in my icebox so i opened a can.
"needs must when the devil drives"

then i crumbled in the smoked fish
added a pint of cream
+ a big handful of chopped dill
another of chopped chives
another of chopped green onions [that's spring onions for Aussies]

and then
at long last
i poured some into a bowl

seasoned it with two old friends
garnished with more green stuff


there was a scrape left for today's lunch
[i was teaching today]

i'm sure it made for a better class

and now you're thinking. ok. she's discussed the chowder. what about the organism?

the story goes like this.
i have a friend, Y whose mother V
was out to dinner with her husband and another married couple
V was enjoying her food so much that she put down her fork
sighed and said
"i am so happy i am going to have organism"

that chowder, honeys, was organismic.
even if some of the usual suspects [bourbon, red pepper, maple syrup, rainwater] were missing.

and the class here today at the Oregon College of Art + Craft? sweeties, the lot of them.

*the cocktail was fabulous. Junipero gin + fresh sliced ginger + Fevertree ginger beer + lime + truckload of ice. now i just have to work out what to call it.


  1. I think if I ate some of your chowder I'd have an organism! Wonderful!

  2. This post made me happy. And hungry.

  3. I'm going V's way, just reading it I could have an organism. I wish I had a daughter like you who would actually come home now and then and make me one too.

    1. very funny. if your daughter was employable in South Australia then she WOULD be home.

    2. Wicked sense of humour......the banter is more organismic than the chowder.. funny xo cheers

    3. oh my, this banter is priceless!

  4. The Cocktail could be Juniper Fever and I shall make the chowder but with sweet potatoes.

  5. You are so good at telling a good story with visuals... all looked and sounded yummy... even the cocktail... I am amazed at how long you will be in Portland... it seems so long ago since we had dinner... be well.

  6. I did actually glance at this and misread it as orgasm. I thought "Hmmm, India's
    being unusually frank."

    1. Not frank....just Sagittarian ....

    2. Sorry, didn't mean to stir the coal, I just miss you . . 'r gumbo.

  7. I too am a V and a Sag and in Oregon (coast) and have some good Gin in the cupboard. Lime and soda, dash of sugar will be fine for me, and juniper I love thee... Your chowder recipe is supperiffic and sounds better than many I've had. Enjoy the northwest leaves for dying in your tied bundles and the fresh stormy weather blowing in. It is good to know your geographically near. Wish I could scoot inland and say hi. You are an inspiration India.

    1. well thank you. also enjoying a few foraged northwest leaves in my supper too :)
      although not in the chowder

  8. giniperio!
    I enjoyed your tale of cooking almost as much as you must have eating it. Most entertaining and refreshingly happy and exuberant. You must have a lot of fun in the kitchen as with cooking with your dye pots

  9. Having had the pleasure of eating your scrumptious soups in Newburgh, I know just how good that chowder must have been. I have to admit to not being a chowder person at all, yet you've got me wanting a taste of yours. And that cocktail sounds delicious. That I will try. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  10. Fondly remembering the savory organism producing Flint chowders supped at Big Cat Textiles. hmmmm...

  11. I knew it would involve Hot sauce!

  12. i guess i have to pipe in...being a sagittarian v as well, but i promise next time you're here to provide you with some wild protein if possible and a kitchen. i will do the dishes. and eat. and swoon.

  13. India, I would buy your cook book!

    1. I'm actually trying to encourage my youngest to write a cookbook - her culinary skills far eclipse mine!

  14. Well, it's only breakfast time and here I am, craving chowder & gin.
    Thanks a lot, toots. ;>}

    p.s. been wrapped in a blanket on that deck in Moss Beach many, many moons ago ... pretty sure it was an extra spicy bloody mary.

    1. Their Bloody Mary's are damn fine stuff sir - especially when subtly tweaked by addition of Chachere's seasoning from the pocket box...

    2. Tony's C now found in village market ... gonna sneak some into The Galley for the red ones next time. Thanks again [YOU are trouble].

  15. well OK, but what do Aussies do for creole flavour? Damn, its 10:30am and I'm hungry now.

  16. Just re-read this post for the second time……it filled me up again….off to source some ricey goo…..would have never made that connection. Brilliant.

    1. in truth i think cornmeal gives a better flavour...the rice goo was just what i happened to have on hand

      funnily enough, it came in handy on Sunday too, when we needed some rice-paste for paper repairs ;>)