EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Alice Gaines’s Chowder…or, um, Chowdah
Food=love in my books.
Today my guest blogger is Alice Gaines. Given the crazy weather that’s hit so much of the country, what better recipe for a chilly winter day than Clam Chowder?
“Although I was born in Queens and lived there until I was 10, I was largely raised by my maternal grandmother, the real Alice Gaines from whom I take my pen name. My grandmother was from Massachusetts, and she taught us New England ways, including some very strong opinions about chowder, or chowdah. Chowdah is white. It has milk in it. That clam and tomato soup they call Manhattan chowder may be very nice soup. I wouldn’t know as none has ever passed my lips. But it isn’t chowdah. Please don’t ask me “New England or–” because I’ll cut you off before you can say “New York.”
Also, you’ll notice that my recipe has no thickening agent. Not all soup has to be thick. Frankly, I’d rather taste clams than flour. Besides, there’s only enough broth to cover the potatoes and clams. You won’t find five or six clam pieces floating in a sea of white. It’s a very hearty soup, even if you can’t stand a spoon in it.
I’ve tasted some very good chowdah that’s been thickened, so it is possible to make. I suggest you try this with your favorite thickening agent, if you want. Flour is obvious. Mashed potatoes are another possibility, as mashed potatoes are basically a vegetable puree. I’ve tried using instant mashed potatoes (not the flavored kind) but can’t say I was very happy with the results. I went back to my thin broth.
In fact, if you have a good way to thicken this soup, let me know. I’d like to try it.”
- 2 small cans (or one large) chopped clams
- ½ medium onion
- 1 medium potato
- three slices of bacon (or one or two thick slices)
- clam broth, fish broth, lobster broth, crab broth, or water
- milk, cream, or half-and-half
- Drain clams, reserving liquid. Slice the onion-half thinly. In a heavy pot cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and discard all but about 1 Tbs bacon fat. Add 1 Tbs butter to the fat, melt, and then add the onions and cook until translucent. Don’t brown.
- Peel and dice potato. Add potato to the onions and enough reserved clam liquid and/or broth just to cover. Cook just until potato is tender. Add clams and crumbled up bacon. Add “enough” milk or cream to make the chowdah white. Add another pat of butter and allow it to melt. Heat gently (don’t boil) until it’s the temperature you want. Check carefully for salt and pepper (clam broth is salty). Eat.
Are we warm and happy, yet? Good. Now, check out an excerpt from Alice’s very hot and steamy book, Love Goddess. (This excerpt is PG–the book itself is anything but. )
“Another failure, huh?” the chameleon said. “Too bad.”
Tatiana glanced from the display in front of her toward her familiar. He’d turned the same color as the tabletop — a warm brown suggestive of mahogany — and he was doing his statue thing… standing perfectly still as if he were made of wood, too. The posture didn’t keep him from mouthing off at her, though. Maybe she could still trade him in for a black cat.
“They’re screwing each other’s brains out.” She gestured toward the display. “I don’t know how you can call that a failure.”
Larry made a jerky movement toward the screen, cocked his head, and studied Tatiana’s latest subjects. “Yeah, but it’s just sex.”
“What do you mean just sex? Sex is the whole point.”
He relaxed back into his earlier pose. “If you say so.”
Tatiana checked the couple again — two shy people who’d had the hots for each other for years before she brought them together. In what they thought was the privacy of his bedroom, they’d gotten naked some time ago, and now he lay on top of her, her legs wrapped around his hips as he humped like mad. Their voices blended together into a chorus of “Yes. Oh, God, yes. More, more. I’m going to come.”
As aspiring love goddess for the inhabitants of this human dimension, a different one from her own, Tatiana had to watch to make sure her couples stayed on the right track. She’d always expected to enjoy the evidence of her success. Now, it just made her ache, all because of the absence of the man who’d always promised he’d be her partner. Lucius could soothe the ache if he were here. Instead the sonofabitch had become heir apparent to his father’s kingdom and didn’t have time for trivial matters like spreading love throughout the human world.
So she had to enjoy watching better sex than she’d ever have without Lucius around. Then to make matters worse, the human male decided to get creative and climbed off the woman long enough to position himself, kneeling, at the end of the low bed. When she whimpered, he bent to capture her hips and pull her toward him. In their new position, she could see virtually everything, and there was a lot to be seen.
“They’re going to climax soon,” Larry said.
“Then what’s going to happen?”
“How in hell would I know?” she answered.
“You want to be a love goddess. It’s your business to know.”
The grunts and moans from the display were growing louder, more insistent. She reached for the control to turn the display off.
“Don’t,” Larry said. “See what they do now.”
“Why? My work is done.”
“Is it? Or are you afraid to see if you’ve succeeded or not?”
Wise ass. She glared at the lizard. “Oh, all right. If we must.”
The man scrambled up onto the bed next to the woman, and the two of them lay, not touching but staring up at the ceiling.
“That was great,” the woman said after a minute or two.
“Yeah, really,” he said. Neither moved for the other. After another long moment, he stretched. “Want something to eat?”
“I’d probably better get home,” the woman answered. “Early day tomorrow.”
“Right,” he said.
The woman got up and searched around for items of her clothing on the floor. “Next week?”
“Sure thing,” he said.
“Seen enough?” Larry asked.
Tatiana turned off the display and watched as the screen turned back into a fish tank, complete with mechanical but lifelike fish swimming around. Unfortunately, she’d watched them often enough to know the pre-programmed pattern of their movements. This one to the upper right corner, the other one down below. Dull and predictable. She ought to get something real to watch someday.
“So, what’s your point?” she said.
“Did that look like love to you?”
“I get them together. Love is their responsibility.”
Larry turned a vibrant green — not the usual response for a creature who usually did his best to disappear into his environment. He obviously didn’t like her answer. “How did you get so far away from your real purpose?”
“What do you know about my job? You’re a reptile.”
“A two hundred year old reptile who’s been around humans my entire life,” he said. “When they don’t love, they behave badly. I signed on with you because I thought you could help them out.”
Tatiana leaned back in her chair, stretching her feet out in front of her. Twisting her head to one side and the other, she did her best to work a kink out of her neck. Maybe the lizard had a point. She’d managed quite a bit of success with the sex part of getting her people together, but they never seemed to go beyond the physical.
When she’d started on this pathway, she’d had a male partner. The hierarchy would never have accepted her into training to become what humans thought of as gods if she hadn’t. When Lucius had abandoned her, the males in charge had predicted she’d fail, and now she was proving them right, damn it all.
“If you had a mate, you’d understand,” Larry said.
Oh, right. The world’s answer to all of women’s problems… a man. “I don’t need a mate.”
“You spend all your time watching other people have sex. Doesn’t it drive you crazy?”
“I have sex, too.”
“Oh yeah?” Larry said. “When?”
“Let’s see…” The last time had been the Wednesday before. No, Tuesday. She’d gone to the pet shop to buy Larry’s grubs and crickets. The guy behind the counter had had a cute smile, so they’d hung a “closed” sign on the door and had ducked into the store room. The whole encounter hadn’t taken very long, and he’d turned out to know more about reptiles than women’s bodies. Still… she’d had an orgasm. Eventually.
“See? You’re not even having sex any longer,” Larry said.
“I’ve forgotten more about sex than you’ll ever know.”
“My point exactly. You’ve forgotten.”
“All right. I’ll get all dressed up tonight and go out and find a guy. Don’t wait up for me.” Good idea, even if the chameleon had given it to her. She needed more than a quickie to keep her on her toes. All she needed was a some sweet loving to return to the top of her game.
“That’s not going to work any better than the other times you’ve tried it,” Larry said. “You need a mate.”
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A wise-cracking lizard! Last week, a soulful parrot. What’s this blog coming to?
Hope you enjoyed meeting Alice Gaines and sampling her book and recipe. Thanks for following my blog. Happy reading and bon appetit!