Monday, October 17, 2011

Saying GoodBye to the Farm with Fresh Corn Chowder

Saying goodbye is never easy.  I live half a country from my family and no matter how long our stay is when I go home, it's all I can do to hold it together at the airport and not cry.  This weekend my son experienced the same thing.  He's held this bunny at Gibson Canyon Farm since the bunny arrived at only a few weeks old.  He named him Bill and we made at least a weekly trip there to give him a bunny fix.  Every week he asked for the bunny and every week I've had to play bad Mommy and say no.

At the end of last week, in preparation for his half-birthday celebration (What!? Half Birthday!? Cue rolling of eyes, right?  Really it's no big deal, it's just a good reason to buy sugar cereal once a year and enjoy it while watching Saturday morning cartoons as a family. That's it, no party, no cake, no presents, just simple acknowledgement.) he asked if we could go "work" (AKA Mom & Dad work while I hold Bill the Bunny) at the farm. Upon arriving after our sugar rush breakfast, we learned that it was the last week for the farmstand to be open. It didn't hit me until we were about to leave and I saw my youngest holding "his" bunny.  Begging incessantly when he found out the bunny was being given away, I managed to stick to my guns and not leave with the bunny.

But he was truly mourning the thought of having to leave Bill there.

I feel the same when the end of harvest comes and especially when I've become friends with the Sue the "farmer".  (Quotation mark explantation: She's an extremely elegant, beautiful real estate agent that happened to love gardening and animals enough to go for her dream of having a farm!  Not exactly the farmer stereotype.)

In order to hold on to the moment as long as possible, I do a little shopping before leaving.  I round up beautiful, fat, late-harvest white corn, red organic pears and lots of heirloom pumpkins. A complimentary rainbow colored bag of sweet peppers that were past their prime for selling but perfect for roasting joins them.  Then with tomatoes still choosing life, we stretched out our time a bit more by picking as many sugar-sweet Sungolds and Sweet 100's as we could fit in a paper bag.

Finally after almost three hours at the farm, it was officially time to say goodbye.

My own personal sadness was augmented when my son made the mature choice to put the bunny back in the cage. I truly almost lost it.  I knew it had been a tough choice for him to go from defiantly saying "I'm not going to leave without the bunny" a few minutes before to willingly letting him go.  Letting go is something we all have to learn, but always hard just the same.  So hard it was, leaving the farm, Sue, Bill the Bunny and the almost barren fields reminding me that the dark days of winter are just around the corner.

Honoring my friend Sue, and what she has labored to produce, I decide, is the perfect way to weave my sadness into something delicious. Fresh. Corn. Chowder.

Though I've made another version of corn chowder before, this version makes great use of a variety of end-of-season produce while the other is good for winter since it's pantry ingredients.

Go to Local Harvest and find out where farms are near you.  Find out the names of the people growing the produce.  Get to know them.  Buy lots of stuff.  Find out when they open next year and frequent them through all the seasons.  Learn how to use the unusal things that they might grow.  Ask if they have a CSA so you can personally have a stake in the farm.  These farms are our only source of truly safe food.

Find a farm then tell me...What did you make with your harvest?  Email me, comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter and send pictures, recipes and feedback.

CWYG Stats
Seasonal Ingredients:  Corn, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes
CWYG LIST Ingredients:  Bacon, onions, garlic, masa harina, half & half, cream, chicken stock

Fresh Corn Chowder
4 fat ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut off, cobs reserved for stock
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4" thick strips
2 small or 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted, peeled and seeded peppers (I used a mix of sweet reds and jalapenos)
1/2 lb yellow potatoes, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 qts corn stock or chicken stock if no time to make stock
1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour used for tamales)
1/4 cup half & half
3/4 cup cream (or if no half & half use all cream)

To serve:
plain yogurt
chopped tomatoes, or halves tiny tomatoes like I used
chopped cilantro

For Corn Stock:
Place cobs in at least 3 quarts of water along with 1/2 an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a sprig of thyme.  Bring to a boil, remove any scum and let reduce down to 2 quarts.

For Chowder:
Render fat out of bacon.  When it's crispy, remove to a paper towel. Add onion, peppers and potatoes.  Stir to coat with bacon fat.  Add the garlic and stir again before add the stock all at once.  Bring to a hard boil.  Skim off any scum then let it continue to boil on high until the potatoes are soft. 

Stir the masa harina into the half & half then whisk into the soup.  Reduce heat, add cream then continue to simmer on medium high until thickened.

Serve with a scoop of yogurt and sprinkle with tomatoes and cilantro.

Print Page Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm! Corn Chowder! What a comforting soup. :) It's soup season for me... so I will definitely keep this recipe in mind. :)


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