September 17, 2009

Accidental Goodness

Sometimes my favorite dinners happen by accident. I'm a menu planner. And by that I mean that I sit down every Tuesday and fill up my yellow pad with lunch and dinner plans for the next week. Yes, lunch too, not that I really cook lunch most of the time, it's more like Ham Sandwiches one day, Ravioli in butter, Chicken salad etc. I just like to have a plan. And I really hate it when plans go awry because most of the time when things don't go according to the menu, they go south, and dinner kinda sucks. But sometimes it works out for the better. Sometimes a screwed up, last minute, unplanned, whipped together meal can be fantastic. Like tonight.

I'm addicted to this new service we have in town. They go around to all the locally owned grocery stores, the health food stores, the mom and pop shops, the bakeries, in other words, all the shops I don't have time to drive to separately, and drop them off at your house for a mere $8, well, obviously, $8 on top of what the food costs. But if $8 can buy me a week without taking the kids to the grocery store with me, I'm in. The only problem (other than that I occasionally forget about things that I normally don't write down but walk by and remember to buy, like toilet roll) is that I have a hard time judging proportion. So I might buy two pounds of oatmeal thinking that it would fit in my nice little oatmeal canister only to find that, whoa, two pounds of oatmeal, kind of a lot. Good thing we like oatmeal. And granola. And oatmeal cookies.

A few weeks ago I ordered some Salmon, just enough, I thought, to feed Will and I with a little leftover for the kids to try it out. Somehow I ended up with a two foot long chunk of fish. OK, so this week I had plans to make the creme fraiche coated salmon that I found using the epicurious app on my iphone. But when my groceries were delivered today the piece of salmon was, well, teeny. What to do. Hummm.

If it had been a sunny day I probably would have done some kind of quiche. Which would have been good, but I'm glad it wasn't sunny. I'm glad it was rainy and gray and even kind of cold. Because after some "what the hell am I going to make for dinner?" minutes I hit on chowder. Salmon chowder.

I used to hate chowder, well, I used to hate clams. Insanity, right? Then one day I woke up and I liked clams. I even kind of loved clams. And I really loved clam chowder. Which opened up a whole world of chowders to me. Clam, corn, lobster (eaten on the piers of San Francisco, oh my God was that some good soup)salmon, really any creamy, potato-y chunky soup and I'm a goner. So you can see why salmon chowder seemed like a good plan.

Of course the problem is that I didn't' write anything down as I went. Because that would have been too clever of me. So bear in mind that the recipe below is more of a "guide" as they say of the cooking shows.

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan melt three tablespoons of butter and saute a quarter of an onion, diced, a small clove of garlic, minced and one stick of celery chopped finely.

When the onion is soft add two potatoes, peeled and diced in once inch cubes, one carrot peeled and the kernels off of an ear of corn, maybe 2/3 a cup. Stir in a cup of chicken stock and a cup of milk, more or less, enough to just cover everything in the pot. Grind in some pepper and let it simmer away until the veggies are almost falling apart.

Stir in half a pound (or as much as you get from the delivery lady) of cubed salmon, half a cup of cubed cheddar, a small container of sour cream and enough milk to bring the soup to the consistency you want. I like mine chunky, so for me that wasn't much.

And for the record, it was even good cold, which was how I ate my second helping. Because I couldn't wait long enough to heat it back up (ah, life without a microwave....)