waste not: corn chowder.

    May 22, 2018

    corn chowder | reading my tea leavesWaste Not is a collaboration with my friend, Carrie King. The premise is simple: Carrie, a food writer and editor, shares a recipe highlighting at least one particular way that we can curb food waste. I make it at home, take a bunch of pictures, and share it with everyone here. 

    Growing up, I asked for corn chowder to be made for fully half of my birthday dinners. Didn’t matter how hot the early July weather was, I wanted silky, creamy chowder with sweet bursts of corn. As a kid, and in the original version of Carrie’s recipe below, there were pearly potatoes floating in there too. James is allergic to that particular nightshade and so I omitted them here. Potatoes or no, this chowder is delicious.

    I’m always looking for simple ways to make a vegetarian broth and after this trial run, I’ll be putting my spent corn cobs to better use. Simmering the corn cobs in the broth renders the soup creamy without making it overly rich. A splash of cream or coconut milk at the end makes it decadent. Maybe best of all, Carrie finally convinced me to stop subbing in sweet paprika when a recipe calls for smoked. I’ll happily make a little space cabinet for this crimson wonder.
    corn chowder | reading my tea leavesFrom Carrie:

    Aside from Frosty the Snowman’s pipe, I don’t know of many uses for spent corn cobs. Maybe bird feeders? Bear in mind that I’m saying that with absolutely no authority on whether that would work and based purely on inspo from Erin’s ingenious half-grapefruit bird feeder. Just seems like corn cob bird feeders could be a thing.corn chowder | reading my tea leaves

    Practical uses aside, I definitely don’t know any recipe that has you actually ingesting corn cobs. Nor does it seem very enticing—unless you’re looking for some serious ruffage. But still, ears of corn are so much more than just their rows of glistening yellow kernels. There is lots of delicious flavor and corn milk hidden in their nooks and crannies. I think of cobs as the bones of the veggie world. You’d use bones to fortify the flavor of stock or soup, and you can totally do the same with corn. So, before you throw your next batch of naked cobs in the compost pile, here’s a recipe that at least makes sure you milk them for all their worth.

    This chowder revolves around the use of the whole ear of corn (minus the husk—although those are also useful in their own right—looking at you tamales). The cobs act as an instant flavor booster for any veggie, or even chicken, soup. Sometimes I even use them to boost the flavor of broth to make corn risotto. If you had enough ears of corn, you could make pure corn stock for sundry uses. Next time you’re looking to use corn kernels-only for dinner one night, save the cobs in an airtight container in the fridge, and throw them into a pot of soup or broth the next day.corn chowder | reading my tea leaves

    This recipe also uses one of my current spice crushes—smoked paprika. If you don’t have any in your pantry, I’d say it’s worth grabbing next market run. corn chowder | reading my tea leaves
    I think it’s a handy spice to have hanging around because a little pinch makes anything it touches suddenly seem next-level fancy. It adds lots of interesting flavor complexity with zilch effort. Plus, for veggie based soups, stews, and chowders, it kind of fools your taste buds into thinking there might be some bacon swimming in the depths of the pot, but—spoiler alert—there’s not! Magic.corn chowder | reading my tea leaves

    Corn Chowder

    1 Tbsp olive oil
    ½ vidalia onion, finely chopped (about 1¼ cups)
    1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
    3 Tbsp butter
    1 tsp smoked paprika
    4 ears of corn, kernels removed from cob (about 4 cups kernels, reserve cobs)
    4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (optional)
    1 tsp salt
    5 Tbsp flour
    4 cups veggie stock
    ¾ cup cream/half & half/coconut milk
    3 scallions or a bunch of chivescorn chowder | reading my tea leaves

    Heat olive oil, chopped onion, and bell pepper in a large pot over medium. Sauté until onions are translucent and peppers begin to soften, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat if browning, you’re not looking for color here.

    Add the butter, smoked paprika, corn kernels, potatoes (if using), and salt. Stir occasionally until the butter melts.

    Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t singe.

    Add vegetable stock (and 1 cup water if you use potatoes), stirring to ensure the flour dissolves into the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.

    Add corn cobs (break or cut in half of too long for pot) and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

    Stir in cream or half & half (or coconut milk!)

    Taste for seasoning and add more salt is necessary. Remove and discard corn cobs.

    Finely chop scallions or chives and scatter on top of chowder to serve.

    // NOTES:

    You could blend the chowder to make it even more creamy. In this case, you might even get away without adding the cream or half & half, if that’s your preference, because the pureed corn kernels will really amp up the creamy factor. If you blend, you might have to loosen the soup up with a touch more veggie stock or water.

    Instead of chives, you could chop up some scallions to scatter on top.

    Omit the smoked paprika if you’re not into it/don’t have it on hand.

    corn chowder | reading my tea leaves

    Thanks to Carrie King for writing this post and developing the recipe. When Carrie’s not encouraging me in tiny-apartment cooking adventures, she’s a food writer and editor. Her cookbook work includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner….Life with Missy Robbins and The Chef Next Door with Amanda Freitag. She has contributed to Gather Journal and Life & Thyme and works as recipe editor at Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. Thanks to culinary school and lots of time spent in kitchens, both professional and home, she can cook just about anything, but usually just wants a few couple few slices of pizza.

    For the curious:

    Our black enameled cast iron is from Crane; I got ours from East Fork Pottery.

    Our checked napkin is from Fog Linen.

    What about you guys? Corn cob enthusiasts out there?

    borrowed words.

    May 21, 2018

    roses | reading my tea leavesroses | reading my tea leavesroses | reading my tea leaves roses | reading my tea leaves

    The first of the neighborhood roses and these words:

    Only now, in spring, can the place be named:
    tulip poplar, daffodil, crab apple,
    dogwood, budding pink-green, white-green, yellow
    on my knowing. All winter I was lost.
    Fall, I found myself here, with no texture
    my fingers know. Then, worse, the white longing
    that downed us deep three months. No flower heat.
    That was winter. But now, in spring, the buds
    flock our trees. Ten million exquisite buds,
    tiny and loud, flaring their petalled wings,
    bellowing from ashen branches vibrant
    keys, the chords of spring’s triumph: fisted heart,
    dogwood; grail, poplar; wine spray, crab apple.
    The song is drink, is color. Come. Now. Taste.

    The song is drink, is color. Come now, taste
    what the world has to offer. When you eat
    you will know that music comes in guises —
    bold of crape myrtle, sweet of daffodil —
    beyond sound, guises they never told you
    could be true. And they aren’t. Except they are
    so real now, this spring, you know them, taste them.
    Green as kale, the songs of spring, bright as wine,
    the music. Faces of this season grin
    with clobbering wantonness — see the smiles
    open on each branch? — until you, too, smile.
    Wide carnival of color, carnival
    of scent. We’re all lurching down streets, drunk now
    from the poplar’s grail. Wine spray: crab apple.

    From the poplar’s grail, wine spray. Crab apple
    brightens jealousy to compete. But by
    the crab apple’s deep stain, the tulip tree
    learns modesty. Only blush, poplar learns,
    lightly. Never burn such a dark-hued fire
    to the core. Tulip poplar wants herself
    light under leaf, never, like crab apple,
    heavy under tart fruit. Never laden.
    So the poplar pours just a hint of wine
    in her cup, while the crab apple, wild one,
    acts as if her body were a fountain.
    She would pour wine onto you, just let her.
    Shameless, she plants herself, and delivers,
    down anyone’s street, bright invitations.

    Down anyone’s street-bright invitations.
    Suck ’em. Swallow ’em. Eat them whole. That’s right,
    be greedy about it. The brightness calls
    and you follow because you want to taste,
    because you want to be welcomed inside
    the code of that color: red for thirst; green
    for hunger; pink, a kiss; and white, stain me
    now. Soil me with touching. Is that right?
    No? That’s not, you say, what you meant. Not what
    you meant at all? Pardon. Excuse me, please.
    Your hand was reaching, tugging at this shirt
    of flowers and I thought, I guess I thought
    you were hungry for something beautiful.
    Come now. The brightness here might fill you up.

    Come. Now the brightness here might fill you up,
    but tomorrow? Who can know what the next
    day will bring. It is like that, here, in spring.
    Four days ago, the dogwood was a fist
    in protest. Now look. Even she unfurls
    to the pleasure of the season. Don’t be
    ashamed of yourself. Don’t be. This happens
    to us all. We have thrown back the blanket.
    We’re naked and we’ve grown to love ourselves.
    I tell you, do not be ashamed. Who is
    more wanton than the dancing crape myrtle?
    Is she ashamed? Why even the dogwood,
    that righteous tree of God’s, is full of lust
    exploding into brightness every spring….

    – From the poem What To Eat, And What To Drink, And What To Leave For Poison by Camille T. Dungy in her book Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.

    my week in objects (mostly).

    May 18, 2018

    five little things that made my week.

    1. these binoculars.

    {but mostly two very enthusiastic bird watchers.}

    2. these post-nap curls.

    {nope. never cutting them.}

    3. these spring flowers.
    {and a mom who brought them.}      

    4. all of the incense.

    {never enough in a new-to-me apartment.}

    5. these stars.

    {and someone’s insistence they hang from my bed.}

    other things:

    the slow motion oh shit.

    what to do about oak cabinets.

    “i am a candy person.”

    there’s been too much rain this week.

    delicate and resilient (mostly beautiful).

    such a great shape.

    pizza and salsa.

  • life in a tiny apartment.

    Survival Tip #163: List the pros. We moved. Just temporarily. While a damaged wall and the associated peeling paint in our apartment gets repaired, we’re one flight down, in a space nearly identical to…

    May 14, 2018 11 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    five little things that made my week. 1. this collection of precious things. {in their temporary new home downstairs.} 2. these boxes. {for meaning we didn’t have to go on a neighborhood sweep of…

    May 11, 2018 16 Comments