Monday, September 12, 2016

Garden Chowder with Ham

Today is PERFECT fall weather!  A bit overcast, breezy, high of 60 degrees if we're lucky.  I love fall!  One of my favorite fall things is SOUP!   Garden Chowder with Ham is a hearty way to celebrate fall.

We grow a fair sized garden each year.  I love to wander through it in the fall and shop for dinner.  This is what I chose to use for our chowder today.  If you don't have a garden to shop in, enjoy wandering through the produce section of your favorite grocery store and select the vegetables you'd enjoy best! (Don't discount the small amount of green pepper though - it adds such a rich flavor!) The vegetables I chose today are those that are still available in my garden in the fall.  The summer squash is finishing up and the texture of it always changes a bit, more dry maybe.  If we were making this earlier in the summer we could add peas or green beans, but those vegetables are done in my garden this time of year.  You could even use frozen vegetables if that's what you have or you want to save time.  Soup's flexible like that!  

Garden Chowder with Ham

5 C. water
1 T. chicken bouillon
5 C. chicken broth

Place in large pot and turn on medium heat.

I like to add my vegetables starting with those that take the most time to cook first.  So start prepping from the top of the list and add:

1 medium onion, diced
1 C. diced carrot
3/4 - 1 C. corn cut off the cob
2 C. diced potatoes
1/4 C. finely diced green pepper
1 1/2 C. diced summer squash (I use yellow and zucchini)

Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, maybe 10-15 minutes. DO NOT DRAIN!  (Your flavor is in the broth by now!)

While the veggies are cooking get out a medium saucepan to make your roux.


1 cube butter

and then add:

1 C. flour

and stir over low heat until blended well.  Then add:

1 C. cream  or 1 can evaporated milk
2 C. half & half or milk

Stir over medium heat until thickened.

Add the roux to your vegetables and broth and stir over medium heat until thickened and well heated.

Add 1 1/2 C. diced ham

and heat through.

Serve with grated cheese if desired.

I like to serve bread with my soups.  If you'd like to make your own earlier in the day, try one of these recipes.  The french bread is easy and done in about an hour or make bread bowls from the same dough!  We love it!

French Bread 

Bread Bowls

60 Minute Rolls

Friday, September 2, 2016

Happiness is the Journey

The other day I went grocery shopping after my kids went to school.  It goes pretty quick now that my children are all in school and I just hop in my car, all by myself, and head to town.  That particular morning as I shopped, I noticed many cute, young, Mom's pushing carts adorned with preschoolers and babies.  Some of them looked exhausted, others were full of energy!  A few sounded frustrated and impatient with misbehaving kids, a few seemed to ignore their kids (though you never know - I used that tactic some myself when one "no" didn't suffice), and one sweet mom was singing to her baby as she walked down the aisles. Nostalgia hit for a moment as I missed my young mama days!  I have 8 children with 23 years between the oldest and youngest.  I've spent a LOT of time the past 30 years being a mom to preschoolers!  

I finished my shopping and got in line at the checkout right behind a frazzled mom with 2 kids, maybe 2 and 4 years old, begging to help put groceries on the belt.  She looked up with a tired smile. "Sorry!", she said, "Sometimes all the help slows me down."   I laughed!   I told her how much I understand that stage of helping... and that it sure is boring to shop all by yourself.  You really don't feel the same sense of accomplishment getting through the store without someone knocking jars off the shelves, whining for a treat, hundreds of questions, and several potty breaks when you go all by yourself!  I mean really, if I'm having those issues and I'm there by myself, I have a problem! (though I can totally see the problem of several potty breaks being an issue in a few years lol  8 pregnancies does a number on your bladder control!)

Hindsight is the BEST teacher ever!  I learned with my last 4 children to enjoy them more.  What annoyed and exasperated me with my older four often just makes me roll my eyes with the younger children.  I have been blessed to have such awesome children!  It has been fun to see them grow into terrific, responsible, adults. (and providing me with 8 beautiful grandchildren is so thoughtful of them!)  

What does all this have to do with a food blog?  MUCH!  These beautiful people are who I have cooked for the most.  They're my toughest critics.  They've learned to cook along side me.  Sitting down to meals as a family on a daily basis has kept us close.  Food is an integral part of family in this home!

The picture above is of my youngest son and my granddaughter a few years ago at the zoo.  They are such good friends in this journey of life!  I love the quote:

"Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling."  - Margaret B. Runbeck

The picture below is my beautiful family 2 years ago, though we've added 2 granddaughters since.