Cooking a Meal – Revised
Since I’ve been sick the last two days, I’ve been able to get caught up on some reading. As usual, I have out at least 20 books from the library, and I just can’t seem to shake my interest in pioneer living and the covered wagon journeys so many of our forebears took.
Most interesting, I think, is this book, Best of Covered Wagon Women:
The wagon trains that snaked across the Great Plains in the 1850s and following were remarkably well-documented by diarists. There are actually 11 volumes in this series. I’m reading this “Best of” book now. The women describe the massive amounts of groceries, equipment, clothing, and more that they had to carry in what amounts to about the size of today’s mini-van.
So I’m amending my previous (whiny) post on the 32 steps it takes to cook a meal. Yes, it does take me 32 steps, but think of how many MORE steps it took these intrepid “overlanders.”
Not only did they make all of their dishes from scratch, but they had to make the clothes on their backs and the candles lighting their work. Their fortitude amazes me.
New England Clam Chowder
So today’s dish is relatively simple. Again–I’m in new territory here since I’ve never made clam chowder before. I think my brother David has some leaning toward Manhattan Clam Chowder, but the creamy New England version is usually the more popular in America.
I happened to have Martha Stewart’s Martha’s American Food cookbook on hand, and took a look at her chowder recipe. She calls for: “5 dozen littleneck clams, picked over.” Boy, am I glad that Julie W. in her recipe specified canned clams. Especially because I wouldn’t know a littleneck clam from a bigneck one.
I also think it’s interesting that we have two chowder recipes in our very Midwestern cookbook. Kelly Q.’s amazing crab bisque and this clam chowder. They seem so east coast to me, but I’m so glad they’re in our cookbook.
So Jacob just breezed home long enough to change clothes. He said his friends claimed he “reeked” of onion from me cooking the onion for this soup. Oh, brother. I seriously doubt it was that bad since it was only half an onion. The drama!
Anyhoo, here is the soup, pre-cream addition. Julie notes in the recipe that the soup can “rest” at this point and the cream added at the last minute. Good tip! That’s what I did. I had an hour or so to kill before dinner, so I just took the pot of the burner and then added the cream mixture last.
And here’s how it came out. This was terrific! I liked the suggestion of using cayenne pepper to taste. I could have even added a little bit more, but the soup was flavorful, rich, and creamy. Great for a winter night!