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Cuisine

Cook your dinner from scratch, Suplee says

1/9/14 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

We were watching television the other day as my wife and I had a little kid-free down time to enjoy some random shows.  Truth be told, we didn’t have the remote, weren’t in any hurry to get up and weren’t really paying attention to the telly since we were talking.

I made the comment that digital cameras have seemed to make every kid a photographer.  Phones with 40 megapixel cameras do most of the average teenager’s pictographic grunt work that would have taken Ansel Adams days to accomplish.  Most don’t understand the composition and lighting that makes for truly artistic photography (No, I do not consider myself in this category so settle down), but how many photography pages have you seen crop up online overnight?  Come on, be honest.  

 I then mused that software suites have made it possible for anyone to be a web designer (albeit not a formidable one, but you get the point).  Other applications made it easy for people to work in desktop publishing and post-production, and the list goes on.

But, I concluded, at least I still have writing; that one last bastion holding out in the world of the food writer and photographer.  People hate to write, after all, and I am safe in my infinitesimal realm of writing.  Right?

No sooner had the words passed my lips did a commercial come on the television that we both watched with wide eyes marking the irony.  

Dictation software so simple, anyone could use it.  The woman in the ad summed up, and I paraphrase, “Are you tired of making your hands move up and down, left and right just to make letters and words?  Do you hate writing and wish you could just sit there and jibber-jabber, all the while having a machine type out everything you just said; correcting as it goes?  If so, do we have a great tool for you!”

We laughed at how much easier technology has made accomplishment.  And by easier, I mean less effort, and I’m not sure this is a good thing.  How much less work do we want people to perform in order to improve themselves intellectually, spiritually and physically?  It has been said that it takes on average ten thousand hours of practice to reach mastery in any given craft or art.  Modern technology is doing everything in its power to make sure that’s simply not the case.

The truly exceptional artists are always to be applauded and no amount of software or gimmickry will take that away from them.  What makes me pensive is the fact that the work of true artists is lost in the sea of computer generated and manipulated media.  I fear that it gives rise to an even broader population of starving artists, but I would be thrilled to be wrong on that count.

I guess the ideology at play is right in line with the food movement in two parts.  The first, which is to buy premade food, crack the can and go; easier is better.  The second is the sham of the exercise industry that regularly announces the newest exercise craze which will help us all to lose unwanted pounds with no effort.   Pills, magic berries, workouts, shakes, supplements and funny looking clothing all promise to do the one thing we don’t want to; put forth sweat to achieve health.

As for the former, I can’t say much since I was at the store a few weeks ago and the customer in front of me recognized me and started talking to me about my articles. She then looked down and had the most perplexed look on her face.  I peered down, realizing that everything was canned, dried or frozen.  C’est la guerre.  I was in a hurry.

Today I’m going to compel you to cook your dinner from scratch.  Get your hands dirty.  Think about the food.  Scrub a few pans tonight.  And for now, don’t count on The Jetsons’ maid Rosie.  For now.

Creamy Corn Chowder

Makes 2 quarts

3 oz. flour

3 oz. clarified butter

1/2 ea. white onion, finely minced

1 Russet potato, peeled 1/2-inch dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 sprig thyme, picked

2 c. corn kernels

2 c. chicken stock

2 c. heavy cream

Make a roux by melting clarified butter and add flour

Cook on medium heat until it starts to turn color and has a slight nutty aroma

Remove and allow to cool while you make the rest of the recipe

In a saucepan heat some butter or oil and sauté the onion until the moisture has cooked out

Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes

Add the garlic and shallot and cook for three more minutes

Add the thyme and the corn and cook for about 5 minutes

Add the chicken stock and the cream and bring to a simmer

Ladle 1 cup of soup, without particulates, into the roux and whisk.  Add more if it is too thick

Add your thickened soup to the main soup and whisk to ensure that no lumps form

Reduce the heat and let the chowder cook until the potatoes are tender and the flavors have married well

Serve with a dollop of stewed tomatoes to make it truly Eastern Shore-

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