Monday, July 25, 2011
Yesterday, the husband and I were enjoying a lazy Sunday morning, each reading a guilty pleasure (me, In Style, him, Esquire), when he said,"Clam chowder, doesn't that sound good?"
"Mm hm," I murmured, not really listening. I was busy reading about the fall trends. Color blocking! Side braids! Peep-toe booties!
"This one isn't really a New England or a Manhattan version," he continued. "No cream or tomatoes."
"Oh yeah?" I said, half listening now. Was he talking about types of clam chowder?
I almost fell out of my chair when he began listing off ingredients. That's what I do when I'm considering making something. "Littleneck clams, bacon, smoked paprika, fingerling potatoes..."
I put down my magazine. "What exactly are you saying?" I asked him in a neutral voice.
"I want to make clam chowder," he replied evenly. "Will you help me?"
It is very rare that the husband does any cooking. It's not that he can't--the man can fry an egg and make perfect French toast. He also turns out an excellent amatriciana sauce. But generally, the kitchen is my thing. However, I do like the idea of him cooking now and then. So we shopped together, chopped together, crisped the bacon, checked the clams, fried the potatoes. It was a slightly strange recipe (remember the provenance was Esquire) but we rolled with it.
As the soup simmered away, we doted on Sophie. She's very beautiful--except for her dark golden face and ears, she is extremely light, giving her a rather dramatic look. Because of her coloring, she gets all sorts of nicknames involving the word "white," depending on what's going on in the house. For example, if we're sitting around talking about, oh say, the time we went to Hawaii and spotted some dolphins, one of us might glance over at Soph and say casually, "Hey, White Dolphin." Or, if she's snuck up behind us, which she does sometimes --she's rather stealthy--we may say, "Hey, White Shadow."
Last night, while the clams steamed, it was, "Hey, White Clam."
Over your pet's life, you end up calling them all sorts of nicknames, but only a few of them stick. Frances had a lot of names over 15 years but the one that survived was Baby Dude. This was because in one apartment we lived in, she would put her paws on a chair at the front window, stick out her burly chest, and yell at passers-by, mostly those of the canine variety. We started calling her Little Brown Dude, on account of her toughness and her chocolate coat. But then after some angry shouting, she would go back to being a floppy, happy puppy--a total baby. So, Baby Dude was born.
We don't know yet what will stick for Soph. Right now she's just Soph. You can't rush these things. Although, I think the White Shadow has staying power. It sounds wise and benevolent, which fits her, with a noirish undertone, a reminder of her earlier life, which apparently was rather gritty, spent jumping six-foot fences, living on the streets, and being a teen mom. The dog has had a life in just two short years.
Anyway, back to the clam chowder. It turned out fairly well although we agreed that next time we would add either tomatoes or cream--these things do improve a chowder. The recipe was a good start, but I'm not going to post it here--it needs too many revisions. Stay tuned. I think a rendition with spicy sausage and tomatoes is coming shortly down the pike.
And that is the story of the husband, the chowder, and the Great White Shadow.