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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!


Roasted Brussels Sprouts

   October 2011

   I guess everyday can't be the best. Was feeling a little out of sorts today, and as a result I have not been very productive. Let's see if I can redeem myself with some insight on the coming month of October.
   October has many food celebrations. First of all it is National Apple Month. Hmmm, apples, huh? Well I'm all about that and I have been all over apples for the past few weeks due to the bumper crop I have right in my own  backyard. Then there's National Applejack Month, National Caramel Month (oh, yeah); National Chili Month, National Dessert Month, National Cookie Month, although I would think December should be that one, myself, but I digress. It's also Eat Better, Eat Healthier Month, National Seafood Month, Vegetarian Awareness Month, I guess that goes along with the eat better, eat healthier idea.  Let's not forget National Pickled Pepper Month,  National Pizza Festival Month, National Pork Month, National Popcorn Popin' Month, and National Pretzel Month.
   Wow, that's just the celebrations for the month, then we have the first week is No Salt Week AND National Chili Week, what a combo, and a tough one for my house, the salt capital of upstate New York, at least when we're talking about my husband and eldest son.
    The second week gives us four separate celebrations, besides the daily celebrations, that are: American Beer Week, I'm sure to get some feedback from friends on that one, National School Lunch Week, National Food Bank Week, and National Pasta Week. Geez, Jesse's birthday is this month, and he's my Chili and Pasta Champion, I wonder if there is any correlation? And the Second Thursday is National Dessert Day--remember you spell it with two esses (s) because you want two desserts but can do with only one desert, or something like that.
   The Third week brings us Pickled Peppers Week and National Kraut Sandwich Week. It will be interesting to examine those celebrations. The third Saturday brings us Sweetest Day, which I would have thought was more like February 14, but I am not the one who designated these days, I only report them.
   Finally the fourth week is Chicken Soup for the Soul Week, and we have all month to get ready for that week, chicken soup is good for the body and soul, that one should be fun
   The only thing I see is that, like last month, the celebrations run the gamut, from the really common to the well, borderline weird, with the pickled peppers, but I am sure Peter Piper will appreciate our look at the fare.
   October 1st opens with World Vegetarian Day, so in celebration we'll look at some different, or updated ways to prepare vegetables. What comes to mind immediately is the roasted Brussels sprouts we had a few months back. I am not a very big fan of Brussels sprouts, but get me really small ones and roast them to bring out an underlying, and quite understated, sweetness and they can be rather tasty.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • 1-2 lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts (I usually look for the smallest heads I can find, as they tend to be milder and more tender)
  • 3-4 tablespoons good olive oil--leave the extra virgin out of this 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to suit your own taste
   Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the sprouts by cutting off the stem edge and remove any outer leaves that are yellowing or look funky. Split the sprouts in half vertically--that's up and down, not across. Toss them with the olive oil and salt and pepper. spread the sprouts on a jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Slip the pan in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes shaking the pan every 10 minutes or so to evenly brown the sprouts. When they are fork tender they are ready. Sprinkle them with salt, and serve immediately.  I think you will be surprised.

   Oh, I guess this is not a recipe for the first week of October, with all that salt. Some things just need the addition of salt: beef, potatoes, macaroni water, and roasted Brussels sprouts. Okay, so we'll wait for week two to make them.

I am looking forward to your review!