I made another winter season prep early this morning. I emptied my rain gauge, and set our timepieces back...then our water heater timer. She hates cold showers. There, done.
Last Sunday I decided it was well past time to trim our hedges and in the process disturbed about sixteen paper wasp nests. Those little yellow boogers took offense at the loss of their homes. Anyway, this morning when I removed the rain gauge from its mount I found a bundle of tiny paper wasp between the mount and the plastic tube. They barely moved in our high forty degree coolness. I felt awful. I really like the little spider killers since I hate spiders. Me and spiders have history.
About the Corn and Shrimp Chowder. This is a rough recipe since I cook by feel and taste and consistency. Here goes nothing....
4 to 6 ears of fresh corn.
Several slices of bacon, rendered, or four or five tablespoons of pork fat.
1 very large onion. I use sweet onions.
Kosher salt to taste.
Paprika, to taste. I seldom measure.
Ditto, cayenne pepper and/or a good Cajun spice blend.
2 or 3 tablespoons of flour.
2 large baked potatoes. Leftovers are fine. I normally purchase baking potatoes and nuke about eight minutes.
5 to 6 cups milk/cream. I use a combination of low-fat milk and half and half cream. For five cups I use three of milk and two of cream. Try and use the five cups for a richer chowder.
1 to 2 pounds fresh shrimp depending on availability. It's fine to use fresh frozen. Although fresh shrimp requires increased prep time it will make a huge difference in taste.
2 cups chopped baby arugula, or to taste.
Take the corn and very carefully cut the kernels from the cob. Scrap the corn milk from the cob and set aside. Please, don't hack off your fingers...
Scrub the baked potatoes and slap 'em in the nuke machine. Then, clean and peel the shrimp. Do not allow the shrimp to warm, keep cold. Meanwhile render the bacon...I know, but it is possible to prep several items at once. I do.
When the bacon fat is hot, chop and caramelize the onion. Take your time and really get a good brown on those onions as you'll want the smoky sweet flavor. Add seasoning and butter as they brown. Stir often. Adjust flame as needed. Now, grab the potatoes and rough chop, set aside.
When the onion has reached nirvana, dump in the corn and stir and cook for about ten to fifteen minutes...you be the judge but I like to see a little brown on the kernels.
A word on spices - lean heavy on the cayenne pepper and paprika. If you can't taste the seasoning, well, you've failed. I also include a few good dashes of Cajun seasoning...but, it's your chowder so cook to taste.
After the corn/onion mixture has reached perfection add two tablespoons of flour and stir and thicken. Now, add the potatoes and milk/cream mixture and stir. Drop in additional butter if desired. Lower the heat and simmer for at least thirty minutes. Stir often, please don't burn. I use a hotplate over my gas flame and will sometimes allow to simmer as long as an hour. She, hovers and will ask ever so often, "Is it ready?" Drives me nuts.
You want the chowder to be chunky and thick. If, its too thick for your taste it's fine to add just a bit more milk but be conservative.
About fifteen minutes prior to serving stir in the shrimp, and continue to stir until the shrimp turn pink...DO NOT OVERCOOK. When the shrimp turn pink they're finished. Overcooked shrimp turn to rubber. You'll want to taste the sea, not gum it to death.
Now, throw in the chopped arugula. I'm of two minds on this..she likes the arugula cooked in the dish, I like it sprinkled. Either works for me. You do it your way.
There...enjoy. If you have questions, ask. There are two or three, or maybe four things I love in life. God, Guns, and fine food. Well, books too. Then there's my wife and grandchildren...and campfires, and....
When she returns from church this morning she will return with an afternoon guest, a six year old tiny bundle of a wispy girl.
Halloween night I was invited to attend her church's trunk and treat block party. They used the excuse the church needed security and would I be able to attend with my wife and stand guard as the pack of children panhandled for sweets. I was also to bring two folding chairs and sit with my wife, and also if I pleased, bring along two hula-hoops. Sniff....and, ah, please bring several bags of individually wrapped candy pieces and containers. If I pleased, they'd love it if I were to also kindly hand out this welfare candy to the little critters and judge their hula-hoop contest, and oh, if possible please purchase gifts, like boxes of crayons for the hula-hoop champs.
Oh, and please if you will to arrive early...yes, we'd like it if you close your business early as we need help. After all, it's for the Lord and our church and since your wife is a paid in full member we're sure you will not mind at all....
Six times that night the little booger ran over and give me a hug and asked if she could please spend the night. We agreed on today. Should be interesting.
That evening, after the festivities, I was given a big hug and kiss and a pat on the bottom for my troubles.
Now, please excuse me as I need to ready myself for my afternoon date. Where did I store those old Barbie dolls.