Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Keeping Warm

Well, winter has finally descended upon us and that means cold days and frigid nights.  Since we have barn animals that means even more to us since we have to give our livestock enough food to keep them warm.  Good old straw plays a huge role in this as well.

Kent goes out at night and finds that one chicken who was not smart enough to get back to the coop before dark (chickens can't see in the dark and so they don't move at all which makes them easy pickings for a coyote).  He scoops up said chicken, tucks her under his arm, and returns her to the coop, even going so far as to place her on the roost under the heat lamp.  Yes, our chickens have heat lamps; having their combs get frostbit is heart breaking.

Keeping ourselves warm means wearing layers.  We always have on a sweater or hoodie in the house.  And I always feel warmer when I knit, so I always have a queue of projects to work on.

I also believe that making hearty comfort food keeps you warm.  Soups definitely fit the bill as do thick rich pasta dishes.  But this week we had a set-back; my oven went out!  The stove top works but the igniter on the oven went out.  How to cook and keep warm???

Well, since the stove top works it is soups to the rescue....I am trying out a new one Saturday night. We have some friends coming over so they get to be Guinea pigs. And my husband is always on stand-by as the tester.  So, I am making Corn Chowder with Bacon and Sweet Potatoes.  I found the start of this recipe in this over sized cook book that I got I don't even know how far back;  I know it was before we moved (4 yrs. ago).  This is just one of a set.  They are heavy and huge and very hard to manipulate. That is a sixteen ounce cup in front of it in the picture, just to give you an idea of the size.


So I was looking through this book a couple of weeks ago and I found this soup! I did make one change in that I am leaving out the chicken, adding in bacon and a bit more cheese.  So this is my attempt at a new soup for a new year.
 
My Corn, Bacon and Sweet Potato Soup
The original recipe was a first place winner and she had a nifty trick to really make it wonderful.  

3 C. of whole milk
1 c yellow corn muffin mix (Jiffy)
2 T. butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. dried oregano
2 qts of chicken broth
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed in 1/2 inch pieces
1 c shredded cheese, plus a cup to be served with the soup
3 c of frozen corn
1/2 c flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 lb of thick cut bacon

Mix the milk and corn muffin mix up and set aside for now.
Melt the butter and cook the onion till tender, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic, cumin and oregano, saute for a 2 minutes.  Add chicken broth and the sweet potatoes, bring to a boil then turn heat down to low and let this simmer till the potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the milk mixture and simmer another 10 minutes.  Add the corn and cheese and simmer till the cheese is melted.

While the soup is cooking, dice up the bacon and pan fry till crisp.  Drain and then just before the soup is ready to serve, toss the bacon on top.  Serve the soup with additional cheese to sprinkle on top, sour cream would also be good on this.

Variation- you could add a white potato to the soup as well.  For a twist on this, chop up a jalapeno and saute with the onions.  Add more heat with red pepper flakes.  And no, I cannot let a recipe alone....well not all the time.


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