Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mussel Chowder (Page 119)

RECIPE #1138

  • Date: Monday, April 5, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Kitchen: Our Temporary California Home
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I chose this recipe as part of the All Seafood All The Time plan. I started by steaming mussels in a mixture of white wine and water. I then strained the mussel cooking liquid and reserved it. My special gentleman reserved a couple dozen mussels and shucked the rest, then cut them in half. I cooked leeks, carrots, bell peppers, shallot, salt, and pepper in butter, then added garlic and cooked some more. I added the mussel cooking liquid to the vegetables, along with some more white wine and simmered. I then stirred in the halved mussels and some heavy cream, then added the mussels in their shells. This recipe was pretty tasty, but not what I expected. This was in the Soups section of The Book, yet there was so little liquid in it that it could hardly be considered a soup. Rather it was a bowl of cooked vegetables with some mussels in it. That said, the flavor of the dish was nice -- the medley of veggies worked well together, and they complemented the mussels well. This dish wasn't amazing, but it was perfectly fine.

The recipe is here.

One thing I like about having a blog is that occasionally I think, "I wonder what I was doing last year at this time," and I can just click through the blog archives and see. Now that I am more than four years into this project, I can really get a sense of how my life has changed over the past few years.

April 2006: I was still in grad school -- my fourth year. I had long since fulfilled the course requirements and taken my qualifying exams so I was just working on my thesis. I had just started dating a guy named Paul (A really nice guy who moved away not long after we started dating. We parted very amicably and are still friends.). I was cooking a lot, and The Book was brimming with quick dishes to make that sounded delicious!

April 2007: Grad school -- year five. I defended my thesis at the beginning of the month, and afterward felt tremendously relieved (and proud!). I was enjoying my last few months in Boston and making plans to move to Bloomington to start my post-doc at Indiana. My special gentleman and I had been dating for about 8 months, and he was starting to really enjoy my cooking project.

April 2008: I was in my first year of my post-doc in Indiana. My special gentleman and I were living apart (me in Indiana, him in Boston). In the entire month I only saw him for four days. That semester I had a particularly difficult group of business calculus students -- lots of cheating and general bad behavior. Despite all that, I was very much enjoying being in Indiana. I was cooking whenever I could -- to avoid that "cooking for one" feeling I was freezing meals from The Book for my special gentleman and transporting them to Boston whenever I went to visit.

April 2009: An incredibly exciting month! My special gentleman and I were living together in Indiana. It became official that I had a tenure-track job at Michigan State. We started looking for a house in East Lansing. And we were planning our wedding! I was teaching a graduate course, loving my job, and loving living in Indiana. The pickings from The Book were starting to get slimmer, and I first started to worry that the last year or so of the project would be miserable!

April 2010: Well, we are married, and we bought a house! This month we are mostly in Berkeley although I am still a post-doc at Indiana (not teaching this semester). And I very much looking forward to starting my job at Michigan State this fall -- and moving into our house! My special gentleman and I are happy and healthy, loving our jobs and each other, and all is well! The project takes more planning and preparation now than it used to, and some of the dishes aren't so appealing, but I am still enjoying it! It is the home stretch...

Wow -- it is crazy to think that way back in 2006 I was already working on this crazy project of mine. At that time I was about 100 recipes into it. Now I only have about 150 to go! Hopefully I will be done before April 2011!!

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