Several years ago, my friend Julie worked at a travel agency in the desert. She has since retired and moved to Mexico. She would occasionally book day tours for us. They were enjoyable getaways. We would leave our husbands at home and take off for the day.
One such visit was to the La Brea tar pits, but that wasn’t all. We also visited the museum that had on loan ancient Egyptian artifacts. Such beauty. Fascinating.
Another tour was to the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Pasadena. Well aware the bus trip was going to last about two hours, Julie came prepared. She snuck little ice-cold bottles of champagne in her purse. It would have been funny to have had little paper bags around them!
As we sauntered onto the bus looking for seats, I noticed the bus was already quite full. Lo and behold, everyone had white or gray hair. I have nothing against gray hair; mine is gray. But I kept thinking, “Am I ready for this?” Well, after a couple of little bottles each we were conversing with everyone. Upon arriving at the school, I was amazed. It covers a whole city block and several stories.
The tour was first We did not enter most of the classrooms. They had double-metal swinging doors with windows to view the students at work.
Most of the students were young and all carried their knives, their prize possessions, in satchels. On the other side of one window was a young man cutting what appeared to be a peeled cucumber into tiny little squares, his face etched in concentration. The little squares were about an eighth-inch square and perfect. A medium-sized pile next to him indicated he had been at it for a while.
Next on the tour was lunch at the cafe. The students were our servers. I ordered duck, a wonderful several-course feast. It included different wines with each course and dessert. Each presentation was a work of art.
The trip home was fairly quiet with everyone full and happy. Would I do it again? You bet.
Now for a recipe. Cooler weather is upon us and with it the desire to make hearty meals. My sweetie cooks during the week and I cook on the weekends. He is a good cook except he loads up my plate with enough food for an army and, of course, I have to eat it. Consequently, I have gained weight. It’s getting hard to button my pants. Diet, here I come.
I made this recipe for the first time last weekend. Try it. It’s the best.
New England Clam & Corn Chowder
• 6 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1-1/4 tsps. dried thyme
• 1/4 tsp. crushed dried rosemary
• 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 4 cups whole milk
• 1 8 oz. unpeeled, white-skinned potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 3 6-1/2 oz. cans of chopped clams in juice
• 1 8-1/4 oz. can of corn kernels, drained
• chopped Italian parsley
Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 3 tbsps. drippings from pan. Add next four ingredients to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, clams with juice and drained corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with bacon and parsley, serve. Serves 4.
Note: Many of you may know this: Rub the dried herbs between your fingers. It releases flavor. Because of our altitude, I let every step cook a couple of minutes longer. Serve with garlic bread and a salad of your choice. Enjoy.