Well, this avowed night owl has definitely morphed into an early bird, probably because of the moon and planets setting into the Pacific like gigantic headlights shining through my westward window, awakening me. What a sight to see — huge glossy Jupiter, full orange moon upon Prussian blue one morn and then a warm gold disc against denim on the next. The bonus was the pastel glow of dawn as the sun rose behind me.
Friends waxed ecstatic, snapping photos, and posting their best shots to share via Internet. It prompted me to master yet another bit of technology, and I can now take a picture with Instagram on my smart phone, edit it, and then send it directly to Facebook. The magic still is well beyond my comprehension.
With our astounding weather dramatically contrasting with most of the country’s winter, I almost hesitated to include Linda Tonkinson’s thick and chunky chowder. Such a comfort food begs for a nice cold evening, but the convenience she provides us is nice any time.
Chicken Corn Chowder
- 1 tsp. butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 (10-12 ounce) cans chicken breast with liquid (Costco)
- 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans cream style corn
- 1 (4 ounce) can chopped Ortega brand green chiles with liquid
- 1/2 tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- Chopped cilantro (optional)
Combine butter, potatoes, onion and garlic in a bowl. Cover, and microwave on 100 percent for 6 to 8 minutes until softened, cooked through. (Cook’s Notes: I left the taters unpeeled.)
Spoon into a Dutch oven with all the other ingredients except the cilantro. Cook on medium low heat about 15 minutes, stirring often until hot. Serve, topped with chopped cilantro.
Linda quips, “This a great supper dish on a cold night, or if you have forgotten to thaw something for dinner. The hardest part of this recipe is opening all the cans, which you are likely to have in your pantry! Makes about 9-1/2 cups, so it’s good for a crowd.” (Or you can make half the given amounts.)
One of the joys of shopping at farmers market is being offered samples. One crisp cold day right before Christmas we got an unexpected delight at Eufloria Flowers. Andy Koch handed me four free chocolate-colored fresh roses, along with the dozen scarlet ones I had bought. Then he proffered me a platter of fresh unique cookies. Mmmm, the layers of flavor, with a final flash of orange on the palate as the traditional Scandinavian cardamom faded.
Danish Christmas Cookies
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tblsp. cinnamon
- 2-6 tsp. ground cloves (depending on freshness)
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup slivered, dry-roasted almonds
- Zest of 2 navel oranges
Heat the butter, sugar and corn syrup. Cool, and mix in the remaining ingredients. Compress and shape into long cylinders 1-1/2 inch in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 24 hours or until stiff. Unwrap and cut cylinders into 1/8 inch slices. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets (one at a time) in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Store in a tightly covered tin; can be enjoyed anytime. Mmmm.