New England Style Fish Chowdah’ – Gluten Free & Dairy Free

We had some frozen pieces of Atlantic Cod in the freezer and in the interest of not eating chicken three nights in a row (I made southwestern style chicken and black bean soup on Wednesday and will be making chicken cacciatore tonight) I decided to make some New England style fish chowdah’ (I’m a Masshole, remember). Some complications are that Mike is allergic to dairy proteins, he is celiac, and he doesn’t eat any meat other than chicken. So things like rendering bacon fat, adding flour to make a roux, and then adding milk isn’t possible. I’ve gotten quite good at making adjustments to the types of dishes we both like to eat so that Mike can enjoy them and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I have to say this was one of my better adjustments.

Quickly, and from memory…

Scrub and cut up into medium size chunks some potatoes. I use the white ones so that I don’t have to bother with peeling them.

Chop up one small or half of a large onion into a medium dice.

Chop up 3-4 ribs of celery.

Use a large soup pot and heat some olive oil up. Saute the onion and celery until they just start to wilt. Add the potatoes and stir again until they are coated in the oil and have begun to heat up. Add just enough chicken stock/broth to cover the potatoes. Add about 1 tablespoon of dried thyme and one large bay leaf (or two small ones). Cover the pot with a tight lid and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add the cod and push them down until they are surrounded by liquid. Cover the pot again and simmer for 5-7 minutes more until the fish is tender. About a minute or two before the fish is done you can throw in a cup or so of frozen peas. It isn’t traditional, but I always like to have something green at dinner and in the interest of making a one pot dinner I decided to do so.

Remove the lid and pour in some coconut creamer or soy creamer (So Delicious brand is one we like); not flavored of course. Don’t confuse coconut creamer with canned coconut milk! There is a world of difference in flavor. We absolutely love the coconut one and prefer it over the soy, but its a matter of personal taste. I actually didn’t need to add too much – maybe somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. It is mostly for color and to add a touch of richness.

Turn the heat off and then add some instant potato flakes to the pot and gently stir the chowder until it has reached the desired thickness. I like my chowder thick and I added at least one cup to mine – possibly more. I love having instant potato flakes on hand for thickening soups. There is a really wonderful and natural one that Bob’s Red Mill makes that I am very grateful for. It is simply dehydrated potatoes with no additives. Bob’s products are so widely carried these days you don’t need to go to their store here in Oregon, but it is actually fun to go there if you ever get the chance. He runs a great company and his employees are treated very well. A 16oz bag of potato flakes is $3.59; not too bad.

I Take My Job Perks Where I Can Get ‘Em

Wearing this type of attire to work is definitely a big perk. Again, what a cool boss I have. Hey, I dressed it up with a jacket, right? Honestly, no one has even noticed. It does feel good to not have to dress the way I used to have to when working in the corporate world.

Last night we had one of those blissful day in the life moments where Mike and I were just cuddled up next to each other on the couch. I was playing a game on my iPad and Mike was reading through some of his blogs on his iPhone and our dogs were cuddled up with us too. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to – or take for granted – the peaceful and wonderful little moments in life. I make a point of noticing them. When we moved off the couch to make and eat dinner we got into some fun discussions about this funny idea I had once for a comic book with a female protagonist. Then we got to talking about some fiction I was reading and then joked around about collaborating on writing something together. It was a fun idea and one I am giving some serious thought to. There hasn’t been a lot of  opus going on lately to post about. Well, that might be slightly unfair…

Some projects I have been working on mentally and physically…

Making Hats – Each year Mike and I go out to the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta, Oregon (just outside Eugene). Mike has been a volunteer for close to ten years and so I now tag along with him. It’s a wild time filled with costumery, good friends, and fun. I’m not much into wearing costumes and crazy clothes, but it turns out I am into making them. Mike is great because he will wear stuff so I don’t have to. Last year I made him a kilt out of Superman fabric (don’t have a good picture handy). It was a challenging project that took a lot of time but was totally worth it. This year I’m thinking about making hats. Fanciful, wonderful, crazy hats. Hats with horns, glass beads, feathers, lights…all these ideas are percolating. I’ll begin working on them hopefully this weekend.

Cooking – man I’ve been cooking up a storm lately. Maybe my favorite thing so far has been the coconut curry soup with basil lime chicken. So good!

And now I have the writing stuff to think about.

So many ideas, so little time. Which is so much better than no ideas and tons of time. What a nightmare that is!

Cooking Spree

I really wanted the cookbook Platter of Figs, by David Tanis this Christmas and Mike’s parents ended up getting it for me. Mike has some food allergies (diary, garlic, and gluten) and food preferences (he eats fish and chicken but no red meat, pork, turkey, etc.). I’ve been getting very good at adapting things for him while not losing the original flavor intent of the dish. I was, however, pleasantly surprised that there are some dishes I either don’t have to modify at all, or only have to slightly modify. This chicken tagine with harissa oil is one such dish:

This inspired me to get creative on my own. To me that is the hallmark of a great cookbook; when it inspires you to close it and then create dishes on your own. So I made a Thai style red curry paste from scratch. All the ones you buy pre-made have garlic in them, but we love red curry so I got creative and we used it to make salmon, potatoes and peas in a red curry with coconut milk. Delicious.

And just yesterday for lunch I made a “creamy” white sauce with shallots, scallops, and fresh parsley and tossed it with some gluten-free porcini mushroom pasta that my sister sent s for christmas. Also delicious!

Thanksgiving II.

We are just about to sit down to dessert. Dinner was yummy: Cornish hens stuffed with wild rice and mushroom stuffing (lots of fresh sage from our garden); candied yams; and roasted brussel sprouts.

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Dessert just came out of the oven; mini blueberry pies. It smells amazing.

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I asked Mike what the biggest holiday in Canada was and he said Christmas. He also said he was surprised that it seems to be Thanksgiving here. I told him Thanksgiving was my favorite because it was basically Christmas without the stress and expense.

And then he decided to give me an early Christmas present.

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So as soon as we figure out how to get around some bugs in the programming which are annoying in the set up stages we will be playing some fun games 🙂

Monster Zucchini

Everyone has a story about prolific zucchini. I must confess that it isn’t my favorite vegetable. I love to cook and have tons of creative recipes, but the whole thing leaves me feeling “meh” after eating it. So all season I have been bringing my zucchini in and giving it away to coworkers. I’ve also sent all my friends home with zucchini if they stop by the house. The thing about the variety I am growing is that if you happen to miss one, or don’t check for a few days, they grow to be these gigantic sizes. It’s a bit insane. The good news is that the variety I am growing doesn’t get stringy and seedy when it gets monster sized. You know, why the heck are there hunger problems in the world? This morning I picked the biggest one to date and it could surely feed a family of four. Or five. Or ten.

Apologies for the hideous photo. It was taken on the fly with my iPhone camera in a dark office with zero natural light. I’m new at this website thing!