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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Soup Day, Part III

OK, I promised you the Clam Chowder recipe, so here it is.

First, I hate Manhattan-style chowder, can't eat tomatoes and don't want to, so if you're looking for a fishy tomato soup this ain't it. All right-thinking people know that the only correct way to make clam chooowdah is New England cream style.

Second, chowder is not a soup, it's not a stew, it's chowder. Chowder is a thickened creamy broth, filled with finely chopped goodness. It's important. So, if you're looking for a bowl of thin fishy smelling dishwater with one big hunk of potato and a handful of sand, like they serve to the tourists in Freeport, Maine outside the LL Bean, this ain't it either.

Third, I like clam chowder, I like clams, I like seafood. I hate chowder that smells like a brackish tidal pool full of dead crustaceans. I want my clam chowder to taste and smell like food that people eat, not seagulls. So, if you're looking for chowder that reeks of rotting seafood like something slugs choke down at a Navy Chief's Initiation, again this ain't it.

You've been warned.

Now, like Nathan and his Kreplach, I usually just throw this together. I once, long ago, was a professionally trained chef, I've been making this recipe for a long time, and I rarely use any kind of measuring device when making soup, stew, or chowders. I also tend to vary the process depending how motivated I'm feeling and what ingredients I have access to - i.e. you have to be highly motivated to shuck a half bushel of New England Cherrystone Steamers, so usually I just settle for canned clams. Also, traditionally chowders are thickened with rue (usually spelled in the French manner: Roux. I went to an American culinary school where it was spelled Rue. My blog, my rules), flour paste browned at low temperature in a saute pan. Rues are a bitch, they take practice, both to make and also to integrate into the soup stock without lumps. The advantage is that rues add a rich flavor to the dish that you just don't get otherwise. However, unless you make a rue on a regular basis, you probably don't want to. Really. Also I tend to make this in a big batch. You really can't keep it, it doesn't freeze well at all, so I'll try to give you measurements for a smaller batch, adjust accordingly.

So with all that said, this recipe is simplified a bit. The flavor is nearly as good as the more complex method, but it's a lot easier to make.



What you need:
- Water, start with two quarts, add more if you need to.
- Chicken Base, Tones if you can find it, usually available
at SAMS Club or COSTCO or a good cooking supply store. If
you can't find it, use canned broth substituted for the
water. I use chicken stock because I don't want the chowder
to smell too fishy. You can use clam stock if you like.
- 1 cup good white wine. DON'T use 'cooking wine' that stuff
comes from the dregs of the winery. It's basically the crap
too lousy to make vinegar out of. Chardonnay is best.
- 1 pt. Half&Half (fat free works just fine)
- 4 cans chopped clams. Retain one can clam juice, filtered
through a coffee filter to get out the sand. Wash and rinse
the clams, really, wash and rinse unless you like sand in your
soup.
- 1/2 a pack of low-sodium smoked bacon - John Morale if you can
find it. Chill the bacon, then chop across the slices into small
pieces.
- 1 good sized white onion, diced fine.
- 5-6 ribs of celery, diced fine.
- 2-3 three good sized waxy potatoes, yukon gold or white
diced into medium sized cubes
- 1/2 cup flour
- worcestershire sause
- dash white pepper
- kosher salt to taste
- good shredded cheddar cheese, Tillamook for those on the
West Coast.

How you put it together

Step 1a) You need a good sized sauce pan. Add the water and mix
in the chicken base -or- add the canned stock. Bring to a low
boil, be careful don't scorch it. Add the potatoes and simmer
just until they start to soften - don't overdo it, or the
potatoes will turn to mush. Remove the potatoes and set aside,
keep the stock at low heat.

Step 1b) While the potatoes are simmering, saute the bacon until
it is brown and crunchy. Remove the bacon bits and set aside,
retain 2 tbsps bacon grease in the pan, add the onions and celery.
Saute until soft, don't overdo it. Turn the heat as low as it will
go and add the flour. Gently stir the vegetable until they are
coated with the flour and oil. Cook gently until the flour just
starts to brown. Pay attention, if the flour burns, throw the
mix out and start over, unless you like the taste of burned
soup.

Step 2) Add the sauted vegetable/flour mix to the broth. Stir
with a whisk until the flour is completely dissolved into the
broth. Stirring rapidly, slowly add the Half&Half, keep stirring
or else the cream will 'break' (curdle). Stir for a minute or two
and make sure the heat is on low or else the creamy broth will
burn. Add the wine, clams, clam juice, salt and pepper, and half the
bacon bits. Heat gently and allow to cook for ten minutes. Add
the potatoes. Allow to cook gently, stirring every ten minutes
until the potatoes are done but still firm - about a half hour.

Step 3) Add a couple of good dashes of Worchestershir sauce.
Seriously, don't skip this ingredient. This adds 'brightness'
and 'depth' to the sauce (Worchestershire sauce is made from
anchovies, this adds a dimension missing from commercial or
restaurant chowders. Commercial soups don't add this, because
it darkens the soup a bit, and they are looking for that latex
paint gloss white look). You don't need a lot, but you must add
at least some.

Step 4) Ladle into bowls, add a small handful of cheese (this
isn't cheese chowder, what we want here is just a bit of
flavor) and a pinch of bacon bits to the top. If you're trying
impress people, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve
with hot sourdough bread.


Gotta run into Anchorage and see a man about some millwork. Back in a couple of hours. Maybe.

49 comments:

  1. OK. Just to prove how much I suck and my inability to stay on topic, I haven't even read the post I'm supposedly responding to. I suck, bad.

    Its just that I was just over on the Whatever, and a certain humorless, self righteous omniscient one who I shall hereafter refer to by his code name: HWITEO (He who is too easily offended), is about to go nuclear again. (I considered going with Random Michelle's appellation, "meanie poo poo head" but he'd see through that in a second.)

    Anyway, Scalzi will jump in if it gets out of hand, but I think the next time he loses it on Whateveresque, we should stage an intervention. Not a piling on flamewar or anything, but a tough love session. Something where no matter how much he taunts us, we just through back luuuuuuuv.

    I think that would be funny, but what do I know. I suck.

    Now I guess I'll read the post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nathan, are you referring to the Sarge (meanie poo-poo head) or to taustin (prickly poo-poo head)?

    I opened a new thread so they can engage in pit-fighting there if they want.

    But I just LOVE your idea. I think we should apply it to both of them. How's this:

    "I just adore your insights on Topic A. Your arguments transcend rational thought as we know it, and approach the realm of divinity. Please provide additional pontification for my edification. Because my life won't be complete without it."

    Oh. And on the soup. When I want Clam Chowder, I open a can of Progresso. Which just proves that I suck worse than Nathan, but probably not as bad as Shawn, who had a "Smart Ones" for lunch.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just to continue the hijack...

    Meanie poo poo head is Sarge. Although Prickly Poo Poo Head is fitting, it just doesn't have the same ring. I'd shorten Nathan's appellation to Mr Offended. I like the sound of that.

    Also?

    I thought it was spelled roux? (Baking's my thing more than cooking, but I've tried to learn the basics.)

    Otherwise, I may have to try this. I realize this is heresy, but would it be possible to use soy milk/cream for the half & half? My grandmother has food issues, so I don't like making things she can't eat. And dairy is a problem. Otherwise, I'll make it when she's visiting my aunt.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm truly sorry for the lactose challenged community, but soy is an abomination not to be tolerated.

    Michelle is correct on the poo poo head assignments.

    Janiece, I was thinking more along the lines of how a real intervention works. Confront him until he acknowledges that "yes, there is such a thing as a time and place where using your cell phone makes you an asshole." "Yes, you can like RAH and not be a plebian cretin." Tell him that even when he's right, his tone pisses off everybody.

    But all of this in a nice way that no-one (but him, maybe) could construe as an attack. This whole idea needs some work.

    And Jim,

    Did you really think you could go to Anchorage and maintain the slightest control over us at the same time. Fool.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nathan, I suppose that since we can't be trusted to follow simple instructions ("talk about soup"), it's hypocritical of us to expect the poo-poo head twins to do the same ("take your argument to the 'Gays in the Military' thread").

    I'm a pirate. Argh.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yum! I have never been able to get clam chowder right, even though I am generally regarded as my extended family's soup cook. It turns out bland and not clam tasting, like potato soup with rubbery bits in it.

    I vote for the "roux" spelling.

    I'm all for staging an intervention, a love-in, a whatever. I like Whateveresque, but if these clowns take over it will die before it's had a chance to gain critical mass.

    Either that, or start a rumor that all of them are gay. Militantly gay. Rainbow parade marshal gay. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jeri, I knew there was a reason I was glad you started hanging around.

    HA!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I much prefer "roo", just like Kanga's little one.

    I'll have to watch the Esque for the flames. Is there a *hug* emote on the forum...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hmmm... I'm inclined to just stay out of messy pileups like Nathan describes, but I hope the rest of you enjoy it before it gets to the inevitable nuke-inducing ending.

    As for clam chowder...

    Yay clam chowder! :D

    I've tried to get roux right for years and it always comes out tasting like raw flour. So a recipe without roux in it works much better for me.

    Nathan: potatoes come in two basic varieties - mealy and waxy. Mealy is what you use for baked potatoes. Waxy holds together a lot better when boiled. They have slightly different tastes, too. Canned potatoes are of the waxy variety, I believe.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Does anyone else find it funny that Jim's site has become the staging ground for Esque dialog?

    I haven't read the DADT thread, but we're a silly bunch, regardless.

    Oh, and if the "roo" (lol) tastes floury, it hasn't cooked enough. Gotta cook that raw taste out, and it's a short step away from a burnt pan of crap too.

    I also usually get my dose of clam chowdery goodness from a can.

    (See how I ended with chowder talk? I'm so politically correct... and modest...)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'd say roux counts as being on topic, since he did discuss it in the main post. ;)

    It's supposed to be a blonde roux for things like mac-n-cheese. For that, I've cooked it until it was brown before and it still tasted like flour. The only difference as far as I could tell was that it looked browner. So yeah, me and French cuisine are probably never going to get along. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh yes, the roux counts -- just not my opening portion. :)

    Also, I've never made roux myself, just watch my mother-in-law do it. Mainly for her cream of broccoli soup, which, is to die for.

    Yum.

    Watching all that butter used to start it out though makes my arteries quiver a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Okay, back from Anchorage. Congratulate me, I just landed a major (read MONEY) wood working gig, doing millwork for a guy who sells wine racks. Rock on!

    Haven't had time to read through all of the comments yet, and won't for an hour or so - have a couple of clients stopping by here in the next couple of minutes to pick up bowls. more money. Yeah, yeah, now I'm going to have do a video of the "oh yeah" dance.

    Anyway. Roux is the french spelling and is commonly used. However, I went to an American Culinary School, were the common spelling was amercanized to 'Rue.' Either are acceptable, though you usually see it in recipes books as 'Roux.'

    Welcome Michelle K. You sound as if you'll fit right in.

    As to staying on topic: What, when did that become a rule? Who cares, are we having fun - that's what matters. I like you people, talk about whatever the hell you want.

    Back in a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  14. *sings*

    Jim is making Mon-ey! Jim is making Mon-ey!

    Ahem.

    ReplyDelete
  15. *sings*

    Jim is sending us Mon-ey. Jim is sending us Mon-ey.


    Ahem

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nathan, two types of potatoes: Waxy and Starchy. Starchy are good for fries and mashed potatoes. Your basic Idaho spud, the yeoman baking potato.

    Waxy potatoes on the other hand have much less starch and are better in soups and stews because the pieces tend to hold their shape. Waxy potatoes are much less grainy. The Red, White, New, and South American 'blue' or 'purple' potatoes are good examples.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ahh, that's what I get for not reading everything before posting.

    MWT is correct, Mealy is a common alternate for Starchy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey, without soy my grandmother couldn't have any kind of ice cream--and what's apple pie without ice cream?

    So Rue for Roux when you've been Americanized. Except that it make me think of rue the herb, so that might be a tad confusing at first glance.

    I don't really bother with roux when I make soups and thickened sauces, since I'm not that good. I just thicken and move on and pretend it's all good.

    (Any flour taste in my broccoli cheese soup is drowned out by the cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and dash of red pepper.)


    And I'm Random Michelle from Whateveresque if that clarifies things. :)

    And I believe that "waxy potatoes" are the opposite of baking potatoes: red potatoes and maybe Yukon Gold. (I like both for mashed potatoes, since you can leave on the skins.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Roux, or Rue, or Roo (Hey, I like kangaroos too. I once had Roo steak in Freemantle that was one of the best steaks I've ever had. Anyway) can be made a number of ways. The most common is flour and butter, though olive oil and butter is common in southern Spain and France. Roux can also be made with wine and flour, though this is less common outside of midland France.

    The trick is low, low heat and patience. Melt the butter, slowly stir with a whisk while adding the flour until you've achieved a smooth paste that is not too dry and not too wet - it should hang together. Slow cook until golden brown, flipping as necessary (you should do this in a good non-stick pan - an omelet pan is ideal). Here's the thing, the roux will go from gold brown to burned in a second. Once burned it is ruined. Period. It CANNOT be salvaged, you cannot scrap the burned part off, the whole thing will be bitter and nasty. If you burn it, start over. Once browned, turn off the heat immediately.

    Once browned, begin adding stock, broth, or wine to the pan. Whisk until you have a smooth paste, keep adding liquid until you have a thick, smooth liquid the consistency of thick paint. Then slowly ladle that into the soup or the gravy or whatever, stirring all the time to prevent lumping.

    Once you've down this a few times, it gets easier.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jim's blog is as non-conformist as Jim himself is. :)

    I'm with MWT. I'm staying clear of the flaming match on 'e'. I'd love to hear the wrap up later though.

    I WILL be making this chowdah. Probably late next week when I'm back from holiday. I've been wanting to make clam chowder (Jim's right, there is no other kind than New England) for longer than he's been posting about it, and getting a well-worn recipe is the perfect excuse to make it.
    Thanks so much for posting it, Jim. I'll try and remember to take a photo.

    MWT is correct about the waxy vs. mealy potatoes description. To add to that, here are some examples:
    mealy - Idaho/russet potatoes
    waxy - red-skinned potatoes
    Yukon Gold (my favorite, because of thier flavor) are in between.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As to soy or non-diary substitutes, that should work just fine. The end taste be different, of course, but it will be up to you to decide if it's acceptable. I would use a bit stronger stock, ham, chicken, or clam, and add the cream substitute in small batches, tasting until you get what you want. If you try, please let me know how it comes out.

    Also, for those with a gluten intolerance, use potato flour vice grain flour for a thickener. Works just fine. Potato flour can be found in most specialty isles in a well equipped grocery.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good Gravy I cannot type.

    I was typing comments in between talking to clients and helping my kid with his homework on the other computer. Gah. ATTENTION Blogger - we need, we must have, a comment edit function. We needs it. It burns us, it does.

    OK, got that out of my system. Again, welcome Random Michelle, please stick around, I enjoy your comments over at that other blog. If you can put up with my crappy comment typing you should fit right in.

    Speaking of the Whatever and the 'e' (Michelle, we've decided Whateveresque is just too damned long to type, being lazy people we've shorted it to the 'esq' or usually just 'e'), yep I usually bow out when things turn ugly. It's not that I don't have the stomach for a fight, god knows I've seen my share, it's just that I prefer to pick my fights and only fight when it's necessary. I'd rather talk to rational adults in a rational manner, if I want prickly, easily offended people, hair pulling, and name calling - I'd hang out on myspace with those poor disrespected teenagers. This is why I've kind of been skipping the 'e' lately - too many jerks. I don't like it.

    I'm also reminded of the adage 'when a fool and a crazy person get into an argument, it's often hard to tell which is which.' Well, I'm not crazy (mostly) so that would make me a fool to stick around and snipe back and forth at screechy monkeys like our pal, Sarge. So I usually say my peace and bow out.

    He seems to be the type that must
    'win' always and can never, under any circumstance admit error or change his point of view. He also seems to believe that he's smarter and better educated and more worldly than everybody else, therefor only his opinions matter. I noticed that as soon as he found out he wasn't the only one who slogged up the Road of Death into Iraq he started ignoring me. Which is fine by me. I would suspect that he is one of those blowhard vets you see telling the same sea-stories over and over and over to anybody he can pin down. The kind of guy people cross the road to avoid, just so they don't have to listen to his bullshit yet again. People like that tend to end up unhappy and alone, eating microwave dinners and scowling at the world and going on about how nobody understands 'WHAT IT WAS LIKE.' There's a dozen around every VFW hall, all trying to prove who has the biggest reproductive organ. They're a sad lot by and large.

    There's an old adage in shrink circles 'bad strokes are better than no strokes.' I suspect Sarge is confrontational because that's the only form of interaction he knows how to manage.

    My two cents.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh, and I do like the idea of the Intervention through Kindness bit. Might backfire though - but that's OK, Scalzi can clean up the mess :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think my mild spanking worked. Perhaps because the spanking related to their manners and not their opinions. Aside from Christian's (moderately) amusing comment, the screeching monkeys appear to have bowed out.

    Thank goodness.

    I'm with Jeri - I like the "e," and I don't want to give it up to the likes of the poo-poo head twins.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yet Another note on roux, rue, or roo: If you've achieved a brown coating on the outside, but you still get a floury taste in the final product: your roux in too thick in the pan. Make it just a little wetter (less flour, or more butter) and press it thin with your spatula. What's happening is that the center of the roux mass is not cooking.

    Roux adds a nutty flavor to gravies, soups, and stews - and it's well worth the effort, but again it take practice.

    The easy alternative is to coat the meat after browning or the vegetables once they've soften with flour and continue to cook for a minute or two longer. This is much simpler, faster, and much less likely to burn or clump when added to the broth. Give it a try.

    I use this technique when making Chicken Pot Pie, once the chicken and vegetables are done in the dutch oven, but before I add the stock, cream, and wine - I add a couple of tablespoons of flour, stir, brown, then add the liquids. Works great, no flour taste, no lumps.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Heh, I've tried roux with veggies mixed into it, and that just made it worse. But I'll try making it thinner in the pan by itself.

    When I attempt it, the thickness can be anywhere from watery to something that can be formed into a ball. Where in between am I aiming for?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thinner is better than thicker. If it can be formed into a ball, it's way too thick - it'll taste like gluey flour in the middle for sure.

    The chef that trained me always used wine to thin his roux, and his roux was almost always more watery than not. And it always came out excellent. I usually follow his example.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Janiece, is this still going on in the Gays/Military thread? Haven't looked since Jeri's post this morning.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'll have to try the clam chowder over vacation--I'll probably do what I do with desserts, which is do most everything except the ingredient she can't eat, split the batter/soup/whatever, then keep one part safe for her, and the other part with nutty or dairy goodness.

    And I have definitely run into Sarge's type before. I was a BBS sysop back in the day (heh) and the messages bases were left to me to moderate.

    I learned really quickly that the only thing you can do with that type is walk away without saying anything and don't look back. Essentially, I have to think of them as badly behaved two-year olds. They don't know any better, so you just have to ignore them instead of rewarding their bad behavior with any type of response.

    I even send a very polite private note to Mr Easily Offended suggesting that there's a difference between saying an idea is stupid and the person having the idea is stupid. Got a snarky response back. Not surprised, but I figured it'd be worth a try. (shrug)

    There's just no talking to some people, and I've got just enough sanity that I'm not going to waste it on big furry jerks.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Michelle, you're going to fit in fine around here.

    Also, I took a gander at your blog. I'll be back. Interesting stuff there.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The fun part on the e (for me at least), was Taustin accusing me of taking Sarge and Skar's side. 1.) I don't think I ever actually expressed my opinion on the subject before I responded to him. and 2.) I disagree with most of what Sarge and Skar said. But I do think its important to get real military opinions on the subject, not just project to them how they ought to feel.

    I think its hysterical that the only guy I ended up pissing off is the one who'd probably share most of my opinions on the subject if he wasn't too busy feeling persecuted.

    Whateveresque: a place to talk about things on Whatever.

    Stonekettle Station: a place to talk about things on Whateveresque.

    I'm going over to the Hot Chick's site and talk about stuff happening on Stonekettle Station.

    BTW, I always find myself thinking of it as Stonekettle Kitchen for some reason.

    Soup?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Can't comment reliably. Stop.
    Nannyware at work evil. Stop.
    Must not snort beverage while reading comments. Stop.
    I'll work out a workaround. Stop.

    I'm reading even if I keep having trouble commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Yeah, Taustin got way out of hand. After a while I just scrolled past his to get to the on-topic ones. I was going to ask Skar another on-topic question, partly to help rerail things, but decided it was a dumb question that would just make me look dumber, so I didn't. Sorry 'bout that.

    Random Michelle - mind if I add your blog to my list? (I rudely didn't bother to ask anyone else, but thought you might want some say about yours. ;) )

    I was planning to skip the wine when I tried out the clam chowder. Can't stand the taste, sorry. Hopefully that won't make affect the taste too much for the worse...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey Tania, haven't seen you in a while. Sorry about that nannyware. Nasty stuff that.

    Nathan, all and sundry. Well I just got back from the 'e' and the gay/military thread. Holy freakin' crap, what a bunch of thin skinned asstards. I don't know which one is worse - I love the way Sarge switch sides and now he's Nathan's buddy. And Nathan, bad Nathan, no biscuit - I can't believe you attacked poor, uh, which one was it again, skar, taustin? I forget. Bad Nathan, taking sides like that. How do you sleep at night?

    Seriously, every one of the three of them came into that thread pissed and looking for a fight. Like a mad child - they're going to yell even if you agree with them. They're not interested in the topic, only the argument. Change the topic to, oh, soup and they'd still argue the same way. Asstards, all of them. It's like trying to have a rational conversation in the middle of a daycare center playground fight. And I'll say this, I might serve with Skar - but there ain't no way in hell I'd ever turn my back on Sergeant E in the field - I'd bet you money leaving the Marines at the ten year mark wasn't his decision.

    ReplyDelete
  35. MWT, wine in, wine out. Adjust to personal taste. No wrong way to do - quoting my favorite pirate movie - the rules are more like what you'd call guidelines.

    White wine adds a certain 'brightness' but it is not necessary at all. Most recipes don't include it. I like it, so I do. Add a little more Worcestershire sauce.

    ReplyDelete
  36. jim

    Thank you. Though I'm not always entertaining.

    Just so you know. :)

    MWT

    Please do!

    And feel free to comment--even if it's not on what a jerk Rich Rodriguez is. :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nathan, sorry. I know what you intended with teh gay/mil thread and I'd like to be a part of it. But I'm going to stay bowed out. I hate it when web conversations turn personal and nasty. Just don't like it. I don't mind people disagreeing, it's the taking offense at everything and the personal attacks I don't like.

    Most of these people claim to be older, but they act like sullen Emo's, sitting in their mom's basement and hating the world. Just really puts me off.

    I'm reminded of this post from back in August. Dave Klecha jumped on me for saying something stupid. Then we had a reasonable conversation and I found that I like David a great deal and I enjoy his blog. The difference is that we behaved like adults.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Michelle, I actually have no idea who he is, but I'm learning. And I like opinionated people - as you may have noticed around here

    ReplyDelete
  39. Jim, That's fine. Your contribution was already appreciated. And if it doesn't get back on the rails, I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it. I certainly have no intention of getting dragged into an argument with someone doesn't even know what the argument is about.

    Think I'll make some chowddah this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  40. And Jim, I went back and read the piece you linked and the comments that followed. Booooooring.

    Don't give me your civil discourse and mamby pamby talking nice to each other crap.

    :-)

    Actually, If I had read that at the time, I might have taken you to task over part of it, but hey, I'll wait until the next time Donahue freaks you out. Gotta be any minute now.

    ReplyDelete
  41. So what is the difference between an interesting flame war and a boring one?

    I find the ones where the combatants dissect each others posts down to the minute detail to be boring.

    But the short, pity, profane ones are kind of fun. Also the ones where folks use humor in their putdowns, although I think humor is the first thing to flee the burning building in most flame wars.

    I do tend to prefer being a spectator to a participant. I guess that makes me conflict avoidant too... or just a wimp.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Heh, I tend not to want to be either a participant or a spectator. Not because I'm a wimp, but because I just think there are better things to watch or do. After you've seen or been in a few, they're basically all the same.

    Oh and! since I apparently missed it the first time around - congrats to Jim for landing that millwork job. :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm with MWT, flame wars just don't interest me.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hey - I am thinking of trying this. Do you have any recommendations on brands of canned clams? The ones I've gotten before have been pretty tasteless and rubbery.

    But maybe they've been cloned. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  45. Jeri, I've always had good luck with Snow's brand- blue and yellow label, chopped.

    The trick with canned clams is to add them late in the process and keep the heat low, if your chowder is boiling it's way too hot.

    Clams (and more specifically the long muscle that closes the bivalve, which is the part we eat) have almost no fat and are made up of long stringy muscle. Overcooking causes that tissue to tighten up and contract, making them tough and tasteless - resulting in a chewy rubberband texture (same with scallops - which are basically the same muscle, and calamari). Low heat and not much of it are the key.

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  46. I used Snow's for mine and it came out great. The heat was so low that there weren't even the tiny bubbles coming to the surface, and every time I went back to stir, I had to break up the 'skin' forming across the top.

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  47. You can have the heat a little higher than that - but, that's OK too. Low heat is the secret to keep shellfish from getting tough and rubbery. To keep a skin from forming, cover the pot, leaving a small crack to allow some of the steam to escape.

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