Monday, November 22, 2010

Ecuadorean Lenten Chowder (Page 115)

RECIPE #1233

  • Date: Sunday, October 10, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companions: Matty and Josh G
  • Recipe Rating: C+

Our friend Josh came to visit and I wanted to make him at least one dinner while he was staying with us. Josh is mostly vegetarian, but he does eat fish. I chose this salt cod chowder because salt cod is one kind of fish that it is easy to find in East Lansing. I started by soaking the salt cod in water for several days, changing the water a few times each day. Then I made this chowder, which basically involved assembling all the ingredients and cooking them for different amounts of time. I won't go through it in excruciating detail. Rather, I will just list for you all the many, many ingredients that went into this: salt cod, anchiote seeds, oil, garlic, scallions, cumin, water, queso fresco, lentils, carrots, ears of corn, zucchini, butternut squash, green cabbage, lima beans, baby peas, green beans, whole milk, butter, kidney beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, hominy, hearts of palm, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs. Whew! Needless to say, this one took a while to prep. I found this recipe to be completely ridiculous. There were SO many ingredients, and so little of each one, that it was just a big incoherent mess. For instance, in this huge vat of chowder there was a quarter of a cup of lentils. Why even have the lentils in there then? I was convinced for a while that my serving didn't have a single lentil in it. Eventually I found one, but I couldn't get past how silly it was. I love every ingredient that went into this thing, but it was just such a mess that I didn't enjoy it. If you edited out at least half the ingredients there might be a tasty dish in there. My other issue was that the broth had a bad texture and a bland flavor. The queso fresco never quite melted all the way, so there were weird strands of cheese in the broth. And somehow despite the huge list of ingredients, the broth wasn't too flavorful. I had high hopes for this dish but I was disappointed by the result.

The recipe is here.

Only 60 recipes left to go!

When we moved to Michigan my husband felt strongly that we should fight the Midwestern tendency to drive everywhere. He's right, of course, that it would be better for the environment, our health, and our finances if we didn't drive all the time. So I agreed that I would try. We made efforts to increase our chance of success: We bought a house in a very walkable area. Our house is close to where we work. I bought a bike. I didn't promise to bike every day to work though. I just promised I would give it a try, and see how it went. Honestly, I thought I wouldn't like life as a bike commuter. I figured I would make it through September, and maybe October, but after a few cold rainy days I would call it quits and buy a campus parking permit. I am happy to say, I was wrong.

It was raining this morning when I biked to work, and unseasonably warm. I was so delighted to not be wearing my usual scarf, warm hat under my helmet, and mittens, that the rain bothered me not-at-all. This is week 13 of the semester, and I have biked to work every day so far [minus a week or so when I was sick from my new meds and my special gentleman had to drive me]. I have biked through pouring rain, cold temperatures, and falling snow. I am a little nervous to face the day when I wake up and there is substantial snow on the ground -- that hasn't happened yet this season! But I am optimistic that not only will I make it through the rest of this semester as a bike commuter, but that I will make it through many years to come. What I hadn't expected is that I love biking to work! And more and more the idea that I could drive to work seems completely ridiculous.

In the last week I have driven a total of 9 miles in the car -- and we did a lot of things in the past seven days! I am feeling really good about our efforts to bike and walk whenever we reasonably can. But the toughest weather of the year is ahead of us. My plan is to buy some serious cold-weather gear and strengthen my resolve to keep biking!


GilaB said...

I've never had fanesca, but my understanding is that there's a little bit of twelve different kinds of beans/grains, which symbolizes the twelve apostles, at least according to Calvin Trillin. His essay on the subject is here:

Teena said...

Very interesting! I didn't know that!