Toast – The Tastiest Bite

I’m a sucker for personality tests. I find it comforting that seemingly personal quirks and internal motivations can be sorted and classified. When my husband sent me the 16 Personality test, I took the free test almost immediately. The results showed my personality type as more extroverted and organized than I often feel. Wanting to learn more, I signed up for the weekly e-newsletter which discusses challenges and opportunities for growth. Today’s topic was organization. I thought about this as I opened the fridge and pulled out the soft, white sandwich bread.

Consuls (my type from the test) are highly organized. I put the thick slice of bread into the toaster and grabbed the cold jar of natural, no stir creamy peanut butter. The toast was dark brown and smelled as toast should; nutty and reminiscent of the lazy mornings of childhood. I spread the peanut butter on thick. This can be helpful but also leads to a hard time just “being”. It’s challenging for me to slow down long enough to enjoy the very act of living. Next, I slipped the speckled skin off the ripe banana and sliced it into coins. After nestling the slices into neat rows, I grabbed the jar of honey and roughly squeezed the little bear so that honey lay in thick puddles on top of the bananas. Lastly, I sprinkled coarse salt lovingly over top and grabbed a fork.

It’s a good reminder that checking off a to-do list is not what makes for a happy life. I cut a small square of toast and speared it with my fork. The toast shattered happily in my mouth and I tasted the perfect balance of my simple breakfast. The checklist can wait until later.

Did you take the personality test? Do you have a trait that can be both challenging and helpful?

Favorite Food-Related Memoirs

I grew up in a family of readers, where you could almost always find someone with their nose in a book on a lazy Sunday afternoon. So in first grade when I started painfully sounding out each simple word, it felt like such a big accomplishment.  I felt included into a secret world and could now join in on the family past time. Recently, my 5 year old has joined his older brother and has also started reading. I see the same pride in him that I felt. Last week, while rubbing his eyes and yawning, he told me that he woke up early so that he could read one of the books that was laying by his bed. I totally get it.

I still love to read and always have a book or two on hand that I’m working my way through. My favorite books are food related memoirs.  After reading one, I feel like I’ve met a new friend, and am inspired with a whole new set of recipes that I want to devour. It’s a cross between a cookbook and a memoir, which is a win-win to me. So if you’re looking to dive into something new, here are my favorites.

Delancey: a Man,  a Woman,  a Restaurant,  a Marriage” by Molly Wizenburg

Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table” by Ruth Reichl

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home” by Jessica Fechter

Hope you get a chance to cuddle up with a good book this weekend and let me know what you’re reading. Enjoy!

xoxo,

Rachel

Sweet Corn and Family

My parents just came into town and stayed with us a few days. I always look forward to these trips, as it is my only time I get to see my parents face to face. We talk on the phone throughout the year but it is always special to have them in my house. We always spend a decent percentage of our time just sitting and talking. Talking on the couch, in the back yard, on a park bench. We sit and tell each other stories about events that have happened over the year or plans for the next. Sometime we talk about problems and opinions. Once in awhile these conversations run a bit heated- but that doesn’t last long. We say our piece and then move on to the next topic.

IMG_0868Being Iowa natives, corn is a big deal. Corn is broken into two categories: Feed and Sweet. Feed corn is what is mostly grown and is the corn that is used in products and to feed livestock. Sweet corn is the type that is in the grocery store and consumed by us humans. The family farm is mostly feed corn but my uncle (Thanks Phil!) always plants some sweet corn too. This corn is a precious commodity among the family. Once the corn is harvested then my mom, grandma, and aunts get together and cook the corn, cut it off the cob and place it in quart size freezer bags to be frozen. Each family gets enough to last until the next year’s harvest.

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Eating pastries and drinking lattes at the neighborhood bakery. Mom found the garden seating in the back. Score!

With September here and fresh corn still available, I was in the mood for a comforting soup to usher in the cooler temperatures and bridge the gap between summer and fall. Corn chowder fit the bill. Creamy and satisfying, with just enough smoky flavor from the bacon to add a depth of flavor to the sweet corn.

I made this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and followed it pretty exactly. Next time, I would skip the step of scraping the cobs for the “corn juice”. I found this tedious and messy, though it did add an extra layer of sweet corn flavor. I’ll add the instructions, in case you feel up to the task. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

xoxo,

Rachel

Corn Chowder

Slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. Fresh corn is a must in this recipe since it is the dominant flavor. After removing the husks. Wash the corn thoroughly and remove as many silks as you can. Fresh corn kernels should be plump and not shriveled.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, husked, trimmed, and rinsed thoroughly
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped in 1/4 inch squares
  • 1teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 cups water
  • 12 ounces yukon gold potatoes, halved and quartered
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped for garnish (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stand corn on its end and slice the kernels off the cob and into the bowl and set aside. If desired, in a small bowl, use the back of a butter knife to scrape the cobs of their pulp and then layer a few paper towels on the counter. Working quickly, spoon pulp onto paper towels and quickly wrap pulp in the towels and squeeze the juice into a small measuring cup. I had about 1/2 cup but Cook’s Illustrated said there would be about 3/4 cup of the juice.

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon, onion, thyme, measured salt and pepper and cook and stir until onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Continue to whisk and add water. Make sure to thoroughly mix during this step so that you do not get lumps in the soup. Bring to a boil and then add potatoes and corn kernels. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

Remove 2 cups of the chowder and blend in a blender until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Return blended corn mixture to the soup pot and mix (look how creamy it is now!)  Add half and half and return pot to a simmer. Once simmering, take soup off the heat and mix in the corn juice (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, top with basil if using, and serve with a thick slice of crusty bread.