Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Winter's at the door . . . what's for dinner?

I didn't want to argue with Irene.
I wanted to understand Irene.

I wanted to become her--to hold her place, guard the coordinates
of her personality until she could resume it.

The whine of an electric saw rose from the cornfield
and the sound of locusts seemed to sharpen in response--
a fierce, rhythmic chatter like a legion of monkeys.

                          ~Jennifer Egan
                                Look at Me


Jennifer Egan's sprawling novel takes place largely in an Illinois cornfield, but also in a Manhattan skyscraper. Readers shuttle back and forth between her two Charlottes, one in each locale; and there's the eerie sense that Ms. Egan has a crystal ball. She knows things.

I say she knows things because, though it was published in September 2001, Look at Me features a Middle Eastern extremist named X whose been training in New York for jihad. It also imagines a social media Web site called Ordinary People, one that pre-dates Facebook. Really!

It's a beautifully written novel, and I hope you'll take a look. This is the perfect moment: they've given us back the hour we lost in the spring, so dark comes early now. Winter's at the door.

harvest date: November 2, can you believe it??
And yet, Look at Me: I'm still harvesting garden tomatoes! And our local farmstand, Reggie's, still has fresh corn.

So it's also the perfect time for a bowl of soup. Here are two favorites to try on a chilly evening before that farmstand folds up its tent for the year. If you have to wait til next summer for fresh, these will taste almost as good with canned or frozen veggies.

           A good book and a bowl of chowder. 

                      Happy November!


Corn Chowder
                 6 to 8 ears of fresh yellow corn, husked and cut (or 3 10-oz bags of frozen corn)
                     2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
                    1 sweet white onion, peeled and chopped   
                    Water: start with 3 cups, will need 2 to 3 cups more
                    1/2 large red pepper, chopped
                    1/2 stick butter
                    1/4 cup unbleached flour
                    4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, diced (no need to peel)
                    Italian herb seasoning
                    salt and pepper
                    1 cup half and half or light whipping cream
                    2 tsp. honey (optional)
                    green onion to taste, chopped
                    a few slices of bacon, fried until crisp and broken into bits (optional)

Melt the butter in a large pot and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is just translucent and garlic begins to brown. Add flour and whisk to combine. Pour in the water and stir gently. Bring to a low boil and stir in the corn and potatoes. Add water to cover. Bring again to the boil, then reduce heat. Add herbs and salt and pepper and keep an eye on things while the chowder simmers on low, about twenty minutes, until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. 

Using a blender, puree about half the soup in small batches of 2 cups each until smooth. Stir the puree back into the pot. Add whipping cream slowly and taste. If you'd like it just a little sweeter, add the honey--a delicious and mellow surprise. Sprinkle with chives to serve, and bacon if it's windy and chilly outside. Might need more salt, but check. This chowder is even better on the second day!

corn chowder: summer in winter

watch this space: a tomato bisque recipe is on the way . . . mmmmmmmm

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