I believe that I swung on a few branches of the creativity tree but then lost my balance, bumped my head, and fell managing to miss every branch on the way down. My parents probably figured this out when I demanded on being Jem for the 6th Halloween in a row, but whatever… I liked sparkly pink wigs.
And you might not believe me, but it’s true.
I’d love to tell you that many of my culinary creations are the result of some seriously innovative brainstorming, buuuut…. they aren’t. They are often a consequence of determining what I haven’t made yet, what ingredients I can throw together that won’t bore me to tears, what I can make to avoid something too vegetabley and what isn’t utterly disgusting when combined. Because sometimes sour cream, mango and bacon just isn’t a good idea.
And there are other things too.
I lack all fashion sense. For real. I love clothes and you surely know my stance on shoes, but I can’t put something trendily cute together to save my soul. Just give me black.
I’m terribly bad at decorating too. I blame it on my annoyingly naive expensive taste, but I just don’t know what looks good together. Any time I attempt creative decor, our home looks like it is an art project completed by the preschool down the street.
And! We all know I don’t do crafts. No.freaking.way.
The only time I ever feel that stroke of genius is when I dip a spoon in a jar of peanut butter and smother it with chocolate chips.
So when I’m lacking ideas for dinner I’ll usually ask my mom for suggestions. She only makes a few of the same meals over and over again but she has quite an arsenal of recipes. Not only are her cupboards and drawers nearly busting open with boxes and bags filled with aloha cakes and steak marinades, but she is a serial newspaper clipper. After spending a portion of her morning reading the obituaries [fascinating… I hope I don’t inherit this trait from Mother Lovett] and doing the jumble, she cuts out all sorts of delicious looking things to add to her endless stacks that I totally steal. Which, thank goodness I do steal… or else my dad would be forced to take the bridge and you’d only see her, my brothers and me on Hoarders.
When she mentioned this corn chowder a few weeks ago, I stubbornly decided that it just didn’t sound good to me and there was nooo way I was making it. I brushed it off like the incredibly gross thousand-leg creeper centipede that I found CRAWLING UP MY LEG YESTERDAY (I know!!) and banned it to the I-will-never-ever-make-you-pile while eyeing up a sangria ingredients list. Priorities people.
But then the weirdest thing happened. I started craving this corn chowder. This dumb corn chowder that I had never even heard of and had no desire to make. It was all I could think about and kept me up until the wee hours of the morning this past weekend (well, maybe the Kardashians had something to do with that – are they ever not on TV?) and caused me to drink a giant coffee milkshake for breakfast the next day so I wouldn’t have to hold my eyes open with toothpicks.
Why are moms always right?
Fresh Corn Chowder with Bacon + Barbecue Shrimp
adapted from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
4 slices of bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup of diced potatoes (2 yukon gold potatoes worked)
4 cups of fresh corn cut off the cob (this took 7 medium cobs for me)
2 cups of chicken stock
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup cream or half and half
1/2 pound of raw peeled and deveined shrimp
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
salt & pepper
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the bacon slices and cook until crispy and golden brown. Remove bacon and let drain on a paper towel. Add onions and peppers to the pot with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Whisk in the flour, cooking for 1-2 minutes or until flour becomes golden in color and smells a bit nutty. Add chicken stock, potatoes, and corn. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.
While soup is simmering (or before or after or whenever is convenient for you), heat your grill on the highest setting. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, brush with a thin layer or barbecue sauce, then cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and toss with remaining barbecue sauce.
Once soup has slightly thickened and the potatoes have started to break down, stir in milk and cream. Add 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, then season according to your tastes. Serve in bowls topped with the crumbled bacon and shrimp. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.
For my next bowl, I’m just going to use the ladle as my spoon. This was irresistible.