Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Corn Soup

Here's one for those who enjoy a comforting, flavorful bowl of soup, and a challenging puzzle, as well. For years I have scribbled down recipes on stray bits of paper--Post-it notes, the backs of store receipts, scraps of brown paper bags. Those non-descript artifacts would then most often get stuffed in a junk drawer, or buried under stacks of paper on my desk, or simply blown to the Four Winds, fetching up in an obscure corner in the dust under a piece of furniture, or scarfed up by one of the (four-legged) opportunistic omnivores in the family. You wouldn't think that a Post-it note would offer much in the way of culinary interest, but then, you're not a dog. Our junior griff, Lily, has a particular hobby of picking up in her mouth pretty much everything she sees, often just sort of rolling whatever it might be around on her tongue, as if it interests her to see what that feels like. Given how many such items are actually ingested, by both dogs, we're very fortunate that wirehaired pointing griffons are possessed of a robust digestive system.

The loss of some stroke of culinary genius was rarely more than a matter of frustration, unless the vanished formula was a bread inspiration of the moment from one week that I was now obliged to recreate for customers who had by this time read my ecstatic description of, say, the potato-chive levain flats, and who now awaited said loaf with keen anticipation. Life and farmers' market baking being what they are, I usually forgot all about the previous week's new bread sensation until it was time to ramp up baking operations again. Then you can guess how things went. With a dozen bowls of dough needing attention, I was often left to ponder, not very calmly, whether I'd jotted those notes down on an order sheet, a notepad, the back of a deposit slip...? What exciting times those were, the adrenaline flowing, the hair being torn out!

Of course, wouldn't you know it, it was only after we'd decided to take a break from the market baking that I remembered that blank book kitchen diary that sits on the cookbook shelf. I have really no excuse for neglecting it as a repository of bread recipes: I used it every week to record baking expenses and receipts.... Perhaps I had subconsciously deemed it too staid a medium for those fleeting flashes of brilliance that could only find best expression in a tattered corner above the crossword puzzle.

So I'm trying to get back into the habit of using the blank book. It's less intellectually challenging to transcribe a recipe from the notebook than from the random-scrap "system"; although, as you can tell from looking at my handwriting, there's still a certain level of difficulty involved.

It's a bit of a chowder, with the bacon, potatoes, and cream. It's a good use for those ears of corn that have been sitting in the crisper for a few days. They might not shine as corn-on-the-cob, but if they're still a little bit sweet, they'll be just fine for the soup.


el said...

I have a cheese book filled with recipes I have cobbled from books borrowed from interlibrary loan...it's just a cloth-bound diary. And yes, it makes finding recipes easier in one sense, as in, they're in one book! But finding the recipes themselves? I still gotta read through every one until I find it; no indexing system, sadly, if you put the latest recipe last.

And that corn soup will be the savior of the overgrown ears my husband *had* to buy at $3/dz. He didn't know our own corn was ripe. Sigh.

Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

yeah for the soup. A whole row ripened at once (of course) and now they are a few ears sitting in the fridge, since I did not have time to process them for the freezer. Have not had time to check Trout Caviar too often either. Have not had time top read too many blogs either. A quick scan of the last few weeks show plenty of tantalizing reading and photos. I'll come back to savor! Right now, I've got tomato sauce to make for canning.

(I am with you in the recipe department. The blog helps to keep some of the creations in one place!)

Trout Caviar said...

El, a study of the near-infinite personal "systems" of recipe storage could be the topic of a doctoral disseratation, don't you think? My mom has boxes and boxes of clipped-out recipes, and occasionally she actually manages to find one she's looking for, a miracle!

Re corn prices, I've noticed that the farther you get into the countryside, the cheaper the corn gets. At the urban farmers' markets it's $5 or $6 a dozen--and 69 cents an ear, $8+ a dozen at our co-op!--dropping to a pretty standard $3 once we hit Wisconsin, and I even picked up some for $2 at an honor-system stand last week. I was slow to get excited about corn this year, but now I'm really enjoying it, and I hope it has a good long season. Spoon bread, gotta make spoon bread with fresh corn.

Sylvie, nice to hear from you. This is definitely the time of year when you want to--need to--be spending more time in the garden and the kitchen than at the computer. It's all coming in so fast now, it's great, but a little overwhelming! On the organizational benefits of food blogging, yes indeed. As I work on the book I'm very grateful for tags and archives. The only dicey bit is getting those recipes from the kitchen up to the office.

Happy harvesting~ Brett

Fred said...

Brett, every loaf of bread we procured from you at the market was a gift. I often read your descriptions of newly inspired breads, and at times subsequently ordered. However, the moment bread was placed upon our home table, all memories of descriptions floated away, as the immediate and wonderful taste would bring smiles to our faces. Descriptions no longer mattered – the bread was good. Which is to say, you could have described any bread you felt like, and bake any bread you felt like – regardless of description, indeed a worthy loaf would outcome. I am pleased to have been a part of your baking years.

Trout Caviar said...

Thanks, Fred, that's really nice to hear. There's more bread baking in my future, I'm sure--and more breaking bread with you, too.

Best~ Brett