Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cussing creatively

So when I was a kid, swearing was verboten - I believe we were told it was a mortal sin, for which we would end up in the aforementioned "Hell's Kitchen" filled with spiders, dirty dishes and mom's liver. I think I occasionally heard "damn" uttered by my parents, but rarely, and nothing else unless it was used in the context of a funny story (like when my dad was in elementary school and was asked by the nuns to spell "shirt" and he forgot the r). We also were told that saying a word LIKE a swear word was just as bad, like one of mom's relatives that said "cheese and crackers" instead of J.C. - I was once threatened with a taste of bar soap when I was caught playing behind the couch repeating "chit" over and over. My saving grace was a carefully crafted look of total innocence and a parent who probably didn't feel like putting me in a headlock for a lava tongue bath.

My dad was a rebel, however, and devised a few words that weren't really swear words, but a little more technical - we would giggle ourselves silly saying buttocks (but my dad pronounced it BEWTOX so it was much funnier), "Buns" and "Fruiter" instead of fart (and if fart really is a dirty word I'm probably going to hell...). We became quite artful in name calling without tasting soap, and I find "Fruiter Head" much more satisfying than the real thing. Which brings me to my offering today, not because it causes fruiters, or has anything to do with your bum, but because the word "Chowderhead" always makes me giggle a little.

This last weekend was spent at a place I called "Happy Camp" with a bunch of friends from work, and we had a really good time - nothing organized, just a lot of doing whatever we felt like, eating great food and just letting it all hang was pretty relaxing. The house we rented was was on Happy Camp Road in Netarts Oregon, and was one row of houses back from Netarts Bay, but up on pillars and with a gorgeous 3rd story view of the bay/ocean. Check it out at and you can see beautiful pix that will still not do it justice.

But I digress - we decided not to go out, but since I was jonesin' for clam chowder, I made a flyin trip into Tillamook and got the goods to make it homemade - it got rave reviews, so I'm sharing it with you as I made it Sunday....ahoy matey, clams and potatoes dead ahead, make sure ye got yer garlic bread fer a flotation device!

Happy Camp Chowder

5 red potatoes, peeled and cut in 1" chunks
2 cans minced clams, including juice
Fresh ground pepper
2 ribs celery, sliced very thin including tops
1/2 large onion, diced
2-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped or sliced thin OR 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 slices bacon, cut in 1/4" strips
1 T. butter
1/3 C. flour
2 C. heavy cream (you can use 2 cans evap milk or 1/2 & 1/2...won't be as rich)
2-4 clam cans water
Salt to taste

Put potatoes, clams with juice and 2 clam cans of water (or enough to just cover spuds) and some pepper and a couple pinches of salt in a stockpot or dutch oven, put on high heat and bring to boil, turn down to medium or so water still bubbles and cook about 10-12 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

While potatoes are cooking, put bacon in large frying pan and cook over med high until it starts to release it's fat, add celery, onion,garlic and butter and saute until onion is soft. Stir in flour until all is absorbed, continue to cook until flour starts to brown just a little. Add cream all at once and whisk until forms a smooth sauce. Add a can or two of hot water if it gets too thick - or some of the water/broth in with the potatoes if you want it really chunky. Let sauce boil one minute, then dump into pot with cooked potatoes and clams and stir well. Add salt/pepper to taste, and simmer a little while if you like it thicker.

I serve this with cheese bread - cut thick slices of french bread, use french rolls or texas toast, just spread with butter, sprinkle with garlic powder and any kind of grated parmesan and broil until golden brown. Or a nice loaf of any kind of bread warmed in the oven with lots of real butter...or if you really have to, you could use crackers, but they're SO boring. Unless you drag each oyster cracker through the new cube of butter on the plate until your mom takes it away so she can do it herself when she's alone...yes Mom, I learned that trick from YOU. But whatever you decide to eat with it, the important part is the soup - enjoy the crisp fall weather with a steamin' potful, ya chowderheads!

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