Quahogs are a girl’s best friend…

28 Jul

As summer’s annual visit continues, I am enjoying each moment.  The longer days allow for extended outdoor play for my girls, and between referee-ing the girls’ bickering over who-slides-down-the-playset-slide-first, and (trying to) weeding my vegetable garden, one does work up quite an appetite.

As I pick the stubborn grass – and recently discovered to be edible! – and purslane, I stop to pick green beans, yellow tomatoes, zucchini squash, edamame and cucumbers.  The girls come running across the yard towards the garden, and I give them freshly picked vegetables.  Sometimes, they pull up in their battery-motorized car, the little one’s right arm casually hanging over the side, and they pick up a handful of green beans and a cucumber each to munch on – quickly washed with the garden hose.

Other times, a welcome visit from my brother-in-law, an avid fisherman, brings me a cooler full of quahogs from an evening of fishing. 

It takes me SEVERAL hours to scrub, wash, and steam the large clams – many of them larger than the size of my palms.

Clam cakes?  Baked Clams?  I was rifling through the Rolodex of ideas in my mind – but nothing seemed more enticing than a clam chowder.

So here I was, at 1:00 am on a work night, steaming quahogs, pulling out the cooked clam meat, and chopping them into smaller pieces.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to clean the clam belly – normally, with smaller little necks and cherrystones, I don’t think twice; however, these GIGANTIC quahogs were a bit intimidating.

I decided to cut off the darker parts of the clam belly – my labrador joyously scarfed them down – and continued cutting the clams into smaller pieces…. while I continued the seemingly endless cycle of get clams – scrub clams – rinse down – steam in pot (without having water overflow and cover stove top) – pull out clams – pull out meat – chop….

I then took a look at the contents of my refrigerator for chowder ingredients… realizing I hadn’t gone for a serious food-run due to our mini-vacation to Dutch Wonderland.  THE HORROR!

What went into the chowder is probably proportionally different from the standard recipe – we’ll just call it my “Chowder – Improvisational masterpiece.”

Chowder – Improvisational Masterpiece

Three dozen quahogs, steamed and chopped into small pieces.  Dark belly sections were discarded

Three large onions, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Six celery stalks – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Six carrots – peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Two potatoes – peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

One 28 ozs can of Eden brand, crushed tomatoes – my understanding is that their cans are not coated with BPA per other brands.

One box, Trader Joe’s lower sodium vegetable broth

Two cups of the clam steaming liquid

In a large stockpot, I poured in the stock, tomato and clam liquid.  I then added the onions, carrots, celery and potato, and cooked until the carrots were tender.  I then added the minced clam – and once it heated through, sat at the kitchen eating bowl-fuls of the briny, fragrant, tangy, rich, soup.

Some girls prefer diamonds.  Other girls prefer roses.  Then again, others might prefer pearls, a handbag or a new car.

I’d just go for a cooler full of freshly dug-up quahogs any day.


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