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.