Archive for January 2014

My Most Excellent (2007) Super Bowl Adventure

I don’t watch sports.

I’m a homeowner and a musician and it seems there’s always a song to learn or something that needs fixed. I do watch Super Bowls but I’m one of those whose interest is more in viewing the creative genius designed to convince me to consume large amounts of effervescent beverages that will either cost me yet another hole in my belt or the use of my driver’s license. But this Sunday was different; it was the Colts, my hometown team, the guys who were 1-13 not so long ago—Manning, isn’t it?

I awoke on Super Bowl Sunday to a feeling approaching giddiness. For once I was excited about the game itself and I was certain from the depths of my soul that the Colts would emerge victorious this evening. I’d decided to forgo the usual Super Bowl chili in favor of letting the folks at Uncle Marty’s Take ‘n’ Bake Pizza provide the evening’s repast. I tried to appear calm as my wife and I went through our Sunday morning routine, lazily reading the paper followed by omelets, bacon and homemade biscuits. But by noon the house started to smother me; I had to get out!

Twenty minutes later I rounded the corner and approached Uncle Marty’s storefront and found it curious that the parking lot was full. I eventually found a spot and followed three other people through Uncle Marty’s door. The place was packed and it was dead quite save the incessant ringing of the phone. “Hi, thanks for calling Uncle Marty’s. Can you please hold for an hour or two?”

spongebobpizzaPeople sat quietly or stood impatiently tapping their feet and despite the Colt’s impending win no one was smiling. Behind the counter where the pizza chefs were plying their craft stacks of white paper piled up, apparently orders from people who had nothing better to do than sit around with a phone stuck in their ear.

Fifteen minutes later (I had yet to be acknowledged) a man approached the counter and stated loudly to no one in particular “For crying out loud! I’ve been waiting for over thirty minutes for a pizza I ordered last night!” A very apologetic managerial type appeared and within minutes was handing the treasured pie to the irate customer, apologizing profusely as he did so. As he left two other distraught customers had a brief conversation, a race card was played and I split.

It looked like chili would get invited for an encore so off to the grocery I went. It was on my list of stops anyway, as my indulgence this year was to be a simple yet terribly fattening dip of melted Velveeta and salsa accompanied by corn chips. “Excuse me, where will I find the Velveeta?” I asked the young man behind the deli counter. He shot me an irritated glance and pointed in the direction of the faux cheese without a word.

Velveeta comes in two sizes; one for families and the other for armies.

22775444-820The picture on the sole remaining family size box showed the cheese food with specks of green and red in it, kind of like what you’d find adorning the top of a stale Christmas cookie. But I summoned up some faith and threw it in my cart.

Next stop, corn chips. Where there should have been endless bags of chips there were holes. Below the holes were tags indicating what should have been there: Fritos were gone. Doritos were gone. Everything I could use for my dip was gone save a couple of bags of “Healthy Choice” blue corn chips. I was interested today in neither healthy nor blue, but a bag joined the Christmasy cheese food in my cart anyway. And so it continued. Frijoles negros replaced the red kidney beans I’ve used in my chili since time immemorial. Red Gold chili-ready chopped tomatoes were out; stewed tomatoes would have to do. Oh well, maybe it was time to try a different brand of salsa anyway.

My final point of embarkation was Dick’s Sporting goods, home of the official Colts clothing. Unlike my first two stops the place was empty—or so it seemed. I walked to the back of the store looking left and right for the flash of blue that would lead me to the coveted Official NFL $75-you’ll-never-wear-it-again jerseys. But the flash was not to be found.

I turned and headed to the front of the store figuring they were sold out or that I was the only Colts fan on earth that had not yet gotten my game day souvenir. Then I saw it! Towards the front was a little blue tent with white horseshoes on it. And about seventy people to boot! A rather robust lady and her daughter were contemplating the purchase of what was apparently the last large Freeney blue jersey in the world. Mom held it up and asked “How does it look, honey?” As the embarrassed daughter rolled her eyes a very deep voice asked “Lady, are you gonna buy that jersey or not?” I didn’t hang around long enough to see who left with Dwight’s jersey. I just wanted to go home and enjoy the company of my wife and dogs who, at least when I left them, did not appear to be short tempered.

karlcouchDespite the blue corn chips and cheese food (what does that mean!?) with holiday sprinkles, the dip was—mediocre. But some live Prince and a bowl of chili at halftime, one dog at my feet and another fighting for space on the couch—it doesn’t get better than that. And just as I, the ultimate back-seat sports fan had predicted, the Colts won the Super Bowl!

Recipe: The Best Clam Chowder I’ve Ever Eaten!

January 27, 2014

clam chowder

In 1985 the Indianapolis Junior League published a collection of members’ recipes and called it “Winners”. It was a local cult favorite and copies are still selling for over $50 on eBay. It was full of good and often novel ideas but one recipe accounted for the legendary status of “Winners” more than any other-New England Clam Chowder.

My wife is a talented cook so delicious meals from her do not surprise me.

But as I watched her assemble this soup I could only imagine the culinary joy I was about to experience. Red potatoes, sour cream, lots of spices, clams-lots of clams!

Doritos-pug-attack2Super Bowl XLVIII is next Sunday and next to the commercials, food is the biggest attraction (the game, of course, comes in a distant 3rd). I’ve decided to invite the Junior League’s chowder to join us for the game, and if you’re a fan of New England Clam Chowder I recommend you consider doing the same. You may even find it more enjoyable than the Doritos commercial!

 

Spicy Clam Chowder from the Indianapolis Junior League

  • (2 slices smoky bacon, diced, then sautéed)*
  • ½ cup (1 stick?) butter or margarine
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons seasoned SALT
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 (6 ½) ounce cans minced clams, undrained
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
  • 2 medium red potatoes; boiled, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

* My addition

Method

Chop and sauté bacon till brown, then remove from pan and save.

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, salt and cayenne. Stir until smooth, and then remove from heat.

Add milk all at once and whisk thoroughly.**

Add remaining ingredients (don’t forget the bacon!); simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Note: This is better made the day before. It freezes well.

**There will be a lot of the roux. I removed about a third of it (1 cup) to give myself more control of the texture of the chowder as I prefer it a little thinner. You can always add some back if you want to thicken it up.

Yield: 12 cups

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: 1 hour