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March 10, 2015

#PotOKerrygold Cheesy Corn Chowder with #IEFB

My puppy Chance just turned nine years old.  He's taking a little break from his Guinness to wish you all a happy St. Patty's Day!  I'm celebrating with the help of my friends at Kerrygold Cheese & Butter thanks to an invite from the lovely blogging collective Inland Empire Food Bloggers.   I've long been a member of Food Bloggers Los Angeles, and enjoyed their advice and camaraderie.  When I found out their sister club IEFB was having a St. Patty's-themed meeting featuring cheese I knew I had to visit.  

The cold, rainy weather we had in January made me long to try my dad's from-scratch corn chowder.  With my heavy schedule, it's taken me this long to get around to it.  So when Kerrygold sent a mouth watering care package of four different kinds of cheese and their grass fed cows milk butter, I knew I would be adding my favorite ingredient into the mix - cheese! 

My dad's chowder is heavy on the meat, with cubed ham and sausage rounds.  I have a tendency to veer from a recipe anyway, so I studied my dad's recipe as a guide for ratios of ingredients and timeline, and then did my own riff basically from the beginning.  From his base I got the idea to add new potatoes and fresh dill.


A big part of my blog is experimentation.  I like to try new things and use this blog to expand my skills.  Since I'd never made a chowder before, part of this "home culinary school" episode was learning how to prepare the corn itself.  I was advised by friends that the magic of the soup would consist in roasting the corn before adding it to the base.  I bought a 5 lb bag of organic white corn from Costco, so I didn't have to worry about shucking or cutting niblets from the cob, and I was able to freeze the corn until the right day to cook came up.  

There are two posts I turned to for guidance in roasting corn:  one from the Hughes family recipe collection and this one from Pen & Fork on pan roasting.  The Hughes family recipe is closest to what I was looking for, but I soon realized since I was starting with frozen corn I would have to use a lower temperature heat and longer oven time.  I mixed a couple tablespoons olive oil and about 1/4 smoked paprika into the corn, then baked at 375 for about twenty minutes and bumped up the heat to 450 for the last five minutes in the oven.

The two-step process of roasting then making the soup meant an investment of time, but while I had to be home, it didn't need to be tended often, so this recipe turned out to be a great project for a study day.  I envision making this soup again on a football game day, or any rainy indoor movie-watching day.  

It came out completely differently from my dad's original recipe, but better than I could have imagined!  I actually rushed to blog this recipe before I forgot my steps, as I really do want to make it again.  I'll have to pair this with a nice Irish Soda Bread for lunch tomorrow.

Kerrygold Cheesy Corn Chowder

3 C Frozen Organic Corn
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika (for roasting)
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil (for roasting)

2 Tbsp Kerrygold Butter
1 bag Pearl Onions
1 C Shredded Carrots

2 C Low-Sodium Veggie Stock
1 can sliced New Potatoes
1/8 tsp minced Garlic
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 Tbsp fresh Dill 
1/4-1/2 tsp Salt (to taste)

1/2 C Heavy Cream
3 1/2 oz Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese
3 1/2 oz Kerrygold Skellig Sweet Cheddar Cheese

1.  Thaw the corn slightly, enough to separate the niblets.  Mix with olive oil and 1/4 tsp smoked paprika to coat, then oven roast as preferred.  I cooked mine at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes then bumped up the heat to 450 degrees for another five minutes.

2.  Saute thawed pearl onions, covered, in butter for about ten minutes, adding the shredded carrots for the last 3-4 minutes. 

3.  Add veggie stock, potatoes, and spices and let simmer, covered, for about twenty minutes.  If desired, use an immersion (stick) blender to partially puree the chowder before adding in corn.  I wanted my chowder chunky but not whole pieces, so I gave the stick blender about four quick whirls and called it good. 

4.  Add roasted corn and cream.  Allow to come back up to a simmer.

5.  Turn off heat and stir in cubed cheese till melted.  Serve warm. 

January 19, 2015

"Jungle Rescue" ~ Burbank Tournament of Roses Float 2015

"Jungle Rescue" is my third Burbank Tournament of Roses float that I've helped to decorate.  I was looking back on my blog and realized I hadn't ever added these photos, so I'm posting them much after the fact to have them in my archive.  I wish I'd written down the details as they happened, but the pictures tell the story.
Deco Week Day One - Dec. 26th

It's so much fun to see the float start from the ground up and come to completion by the end of the week.

Day Three - Dec 28th

Much of decorating is Statice, statice, statice.  Trimming the flower petals from their stalks takes hours upon hours of tedious volunteer work that is only lightened by cameraderie.  

The decorating process is focused on the animals being finished off the float.

Day Four - Dec 29th

By day four of decorating, the animals are taking shape and the process of attaching them to the float is being discussed and begun.

New Years Eve - Judging - Dec 31st

Judging takes place over several stages, but the climax is the day before the parade.  The float is started up and moved to the parking lot next door to the float barn.  All the animatronics are operated, and the original soundtrack is live.  Volunteers are working on small details up to the moment.

I was lucky to be involved in the float once again.  This year's jolly animals were raucus fun!
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