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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Creamy Corn Chowder

October 1, 2011

   This month full of food celebrations, beginning with World Vegetarian Day and National Homemade Cookie Day, today, and National Apple Month and National Chili Month. I could probably fill volumes with those subjects alone, but that's only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
   One of the celebrations I will personally have trouble celebrating is the No Salt Week observed the first week of October. As I mentioned before, my house is the salt capital of upstate New York, with my husband and eldest son running neck in neck for using the most salt on the strangest things. Applesauce, yes, they salt applesauce. I don't get it. I am told it enhances the flavor, I say, "stop smoking and let your taste buds come back to life and you won't have to artificially "enhance" any flavors", except, as also previously noted, potatoes, especially fried, and all cuts of beef. But that's a different topic and one I do not care to debate here.
   Maybe I could make things that do not require or call for salt, but they salt watermelon and cantaloupe, as well as applesauce, so I am not sure what I could think up would really be guaranteed not to be salted. Ah ha! Hey, I have never seen either of them salt ice cream! But I also do not see serving ice cream for dinner to fit in with the eat better eat healthier celebration that also is observed in October. And my kids are no longer little kids that would really appreciate getting served ice cream for dinner.  I am going to just let that idea float around in my brain for a while and see what might brew. But I would not count on that one coming to fruition.
   I think I need to clarify the No salt idea. It is not that you do not use ANY salt, salt is a very necessary element to the human body--in moderation--you just had to know THAT would come into play. But we Americans use way too much salt, and some of us (me included) have hypertension which is aggravated with the addition of excess salt. So you know the drill, read the labels don't use canned or processed foods, and put down that salt shaker. I have one little pet peeve with salt addicts. PLEASE TASTE the food BEFORE YOU SALT IT. How do you know it needs salt without tasting it first?
   The people from Mrs. Dash® come up with hundreds of recipes that do not call for the addition of salt and I say, this week lets all give one of them a try. I personally like the Sweet Potato Chicken skillet recipe using the Caribbean Citrus Seasoning Blend and I think I am going to try to sneak it in this week, just have to get that blend, as I only have the original on hand.
   I have included a link to Mrs. Dash® website to help you find some salt free recipe to join in the salt free celebration. Please be sure to let me know how your recipe worked out, and post it so we all can share it.

No Salt Cooking ideas from Mrs. Dash

   As a standby I will post my favorite corn chowder recipe. I had never had corn chowder until I made this last year for a vegetarian addition to an office party. I was pleasantly surprised on how good it was, so much so that the omission of any meat was not noticed when I served this dish at home, also. Of course, being carnivorous as we are, I served the soup as one course and there was meat in other courses. Hey, I tried!

Creamy Corn Chowder

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (hey--that counts!)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 stalk celery finely diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced on the small side
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • 1 cup frozen kernel corn (I use Price Chopper Brand frozen corn--it is the sweetest corn out there)
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/4 cup diced green and/or red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce- you can add more if you want more zip
  • 1 cup heavy cream
   Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the onions and celery and sweat them for about 6 minutes until they start to soften. Add the potatoes, and toss them around in the mix for a few minutes. Add the flour, (you are making a roux). This one comes out rather dry so it won't get bubbly, just stir it around and let it color a bit to cook the flour. Add the broth, slowly, stirring to avoid lumps. Add the two cans of creamed corn, the kernel corn and the peppers. Bring to a gentle boil, lower temp, and let simmer about 10 minutes for the potatoes to finish. Now here you can either stick in your immersion blender or use a potato masher and mash up some of the soup--not all of it, just to get it a little thicker, leaving most of the corn and potatoes whole. Add the hot sauce (or leave it out--but trust me it ENHANCES the flavor) stir in the heavy cream, simmer about 10 minutes.  Done. Notice there's no additional salt, if you can find low sodium creamed corn, go for it, and if you make your own vegetable stock you can also control the salt in that.
   It makes enough for about 8 lunch or first course servings.

   It is really yummy, but for those of you out there who require meat, well, chicken, here's how to make it into chicken corn chowder:
   Use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth and add 1 cup of diced cooked chicken right after you finish "thickening" the soup. Now you have one recipe that can be converted into two, again, two for the price of one. Who loves a bargain?

   Would love to hear how yours turns out!

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