Friday, February 25, 2011

Retirement - Dust Bunnies and Cooking

One of the things about being retired is that while you are spending more time at home, you notice dust bunnies and cobwebs sooner.

Today I decided to give the kitchen appliances a thorough cleaning. I walked into the kitchen just at the right moment when the sun was shining across the stove top. I could see what appeared to be streaked grease on the display. So, I got out the degreaser spray cleaner and attempted to remove the film. It did not work at all, just seemed to smear more.

I went looking for one of those ‘green’ cleaners, thinking maybe it would work; no deal! I tried dawn liquid, which removed some of the haze. Next I added some vinegar to the water with the dawn liquid. Finally, it was clear.

What I discovered was that what appeared to be glass was just some type of clear acrylic.
The degreaser spray cleaner had always worked on mirrors and window panes, so was surprised that it wasn’t working on the stove display. The piece of clear film that is usually on a display was removed long ago.

Once I cleaned the sides, door and top of the stove and microwave, I went for the dishwasher and refrigerator/freezer. I was on a roll, cleaning until I remembered that I had not eaten breakfast.

After finishing a quick breakfast, I headed for the pantry. If you are like most of us who go shopping without a shopping list, there are things in the pantry that you will never use. Now, it was time to go thru the pantry to bag up a few items. I spied a couple cans of clam, so out they came. Then I thought, hmmm, maybe I should make clam chowder instead of putting them in the donate bag…

Well, it’s been a while since I have made clam chowder, so I decided to Google for a recipe. I looked at a few that were really loaded with fat, so I changed the search to “lite clam chowder”. There were a couple of hits, but weren’t quite what I wanted. So I decided to just pull out all of the ingredients that I remember putting in clam chowder when I made it last.

I try to keep Yukon Gold potatoes on hand, because I eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Now it was over to the freezer, because I never use a full stalk of celery or whole onion. Frozen comes in handy when you need some for a dish.

As I was looking for recipes, decided to check out the activity on Facebook. And there before my eyes, was the announcement that today: February 25 is National Clam Chowder Day!

Well at least, I was planning on making clam chowder before knowing about the designated day.

Clam chowder is a dish that is often seasoned to one’s taste. My version is always New England clam chowder, just do not like the ‘red’ variety. :-)
This is how I made it…………. It has a little less fat than most clam chowders

New England clam chowder
5 cups Gold Yukon potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup chopped or thinly sliced celery
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tbsp McCormick’s Savory All-purpose salt-free seasoning
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp Litehouse Freeze-Dried Salad Herb Blend
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp corn starch
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup half and half
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams
2 tbsp hot sauce
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional freshly ground pepper / sea salt to taste

• Heat a large Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add potatoes, celery, onion and seasonings. Sauté about 5 minutes until the celery and potatoes turn slightly translucent.

• Add enough water to cover (about 1 1/2 cups). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender (15 – 20 minutes).

• Combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup milk and whisk to mix. Combine with the remainder of the milk and half and half. Pour this mixture into the Dutch oven, stirring until soup is thickened (about 5 minutes). Add the hot sauce. Cover saucepan and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

•  Stir in Parmesan  and clames after the soup has finished cooking. Continue cooking at a simmer another 5 minutes. Continue to stir while cooking

Now test for seasoning

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 209 calories, 4.6g total fat, 1.3g monounsaturated fat, <1g polyunsaturated fat, 2.9g saturated fat, 23.6mg cholesterol, 441.4mg sodium, 871.5mg potassium, 31.4g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 29.2g net carbohydrates, 0g starch, 4.1g sugar, 9.7g protein, <1mg iron.

Bottled clam sauce can also be substituted for some of the milk

I used my cast iron Dutch oven, now it's time to clean it. Wash, dry and heat to remove all moisture!

Well, tomorrow, I will have to continue cleaning……….. Next up; the kitchen cabinets and floor will get the Murphy Oil treatment.

1 comment:

  1. I have a hard time cleaning my appliances, since we are in a rental, there is stuff from who knows when crusted on. They really should all be replaced. :( The good news is that I won that stove...I might forbid anyone to use it. LOL

    Your chowder looks excellent. I love using those freeze dried herbs...almost like fresh.