Friday, November 21, 2014

Silver Linings

When we are struggling with terrible events like the loss of someone dear to us it is pretty hard to see any redeeming value to it. I guess there might be someone here and there who can, but when I've had those times things have seemed pretty bleak.

Years, often decades, later we can sometimes see the silver lining. When Sweetie lost a good friend to the sea, despite heroic efforts to save him, he says he thought that it should have been him. Now he can look back on his life and can see that he would have missed so much love and laughter if it had been him. Others, especially yours truly, would have never know him, and that is too awful to even contemplate.

I feel the same way about my first marriage. It was far from a good marriage, but I was blessed because a wonderful woman, my daughter, came out of it. She has brought a lot of joy to a lot of people over the years. What if she had never been? Unthinkable.

Even a great loss like losing a child has its side of light. Although I would rather have him back over anything else, the loss did teach me to appreciate the help of others, to appreciate each moment as a blessing, and to be more sympathetic in general to others. He wasn't perfect, but he was a mighty good person and changed a lot of lives for the better during his short time here.

So why these somber thoughts? I guess it's because the winter holidays draw near and that seems to be a time when those lost to us are missed more than usual. It's a reminder to me to appreciate even more, and more actively, those who shine in my life right now. Their light and love will keep the winter darkness at bay.

Something else that warms up a chilly late fall evening is a bowl of hearty soup. Last night I cooked up a seafood chowder that was a hit. I served some crusty bread with it and that filled us right up.

The method I used for this chowder was to cook the potatoes in one pot and cook the onion, carrot, mushrooms and bell pepper in a skillet. Once the potatoes cook and are drained, the milk and broth go into that same pot to heat, along with the peas, corn, and seasonings. It takes a few minutes to heat up the peas and corn, but once the liquid is back to boiling it only takes a short while for the seafood to cook. Before it is done the cooked onion mixture is added and stirred in to distribute the flavor.

This is not a thick chowder. If you prefer your chowder thicker, at the end stir in a slurry of flour and water and stir until mixture thickens.

Either way this is a great soup for cold weather.

Seafood Chowder
Elle original recipe - Serves 4-6

1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-6 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 cups red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
14 oz. chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt (or garlic salt) and pepper to taste
1 bag Trader Joe's frozen mixed seafood (bay scallops, shrimp and calamari)

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and then saute the onion and carrots, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper, stir, and continue to cook, covered and on medium heat, until pepper is soft about 5 minutes.

While onion mixture is cooking, put the potatoes into a large pot and add water to cover. Boil until potatoes are tender; insert the tip of a sharp knife to test for tenderness. Drain and set aside.

Once potatoes are drained, use the same pot to heat the milk and broth to boiling. Add the frozen peas and corn and cover. Return to a boil. Remove the cover and add the chopped parsley, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the frozen mixed seafood and stir. Put cover on the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, add the onion vegetable mixture and stir. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until shrimp are pink and curled slightly, stirring often.

Serve at once. Garnish with more chopped parsley if desired.

1 comment :

  1. Huh. This topic seems to be in the ether; the lesson at church was about being thankful for what you CAN, and gently ignoring people who tell you that you're supposed to be grateful for the crap that goes on in life, like it's some sort of master plan of suffering. Those silver linings are a part of that; while we can do nothing but shriek at the loss of a child and regreat a less-than-stellar marital choice, we can be happy that not every day is filled with loss - and that some days, there's chowder, good, strong tea, soda bread, and cake.