Let’s do a little daydreaming…
Envision, if you will, that you’re taking a walk through the woods, on a gorgeous day in mid-June. Your primary mission is to relax, enjoy yourself, and to find the perfect location to stop for a picnic. To your right, you see a path that leads into a large field filled with fragrant wildflowers of every shape and size, beautiful butterflies, and a wonderful clearing in the middle that would be a perfect place for your afternoon feast. To your left is a shaded path of tall oak trees, with enough shade to keep you cool and protected from the hot afternoon sun. Beyond that is a park with tables to dine at, water to quench your thirst, and a view that overlooks a babbling brook. How do you determine on which of the two beautiful roads you will travel?
For some people, the answer may come swiftly and surely. For example, you could be deathly allergic to fragrant flowers, or perhaps you’ve forgotten to bring along sun screen! For others, like me, the decision could be a difficult one to make. You have two beautiful options, each with a great set of benefits, each uniquely wonderful, and each with opportunities to find and experience great joy. It’s at that point in time when I measure the pros and cons of a situation to determine which road I will travel.
I found this beautiful picture on the blog of amateur photographer, Susanna Tucker. Check out more of her gorgeous photography here: http://susannahtucker.blogspot.com/2011/01/fields-of-wild-flowers.html
So here I stand at an interesting turning point… To my right is a path where I would complete my education in hotel and restaurant management and find a career in the hospitality industry. My employer and position are still unknowns for now, mainly because I still need to determine what position in the industry that I can comfortably hold with the physical limitations I live with every day. However, I do know that if I choose this path, my career will involve serving others, and that is enough to make it sparkle like a glimmering gemstone in my mind.
To my left is a path where I would switch my program of study and pursue a career in accounting. I confess that if someone had told me that I’d be working in a job where I, the girl who despises math, would be dealing with numbers all day, I’d have asked them what sort of wacky pills they had taken that morning! However, now that I hold a job in that industry, I’ve found it to be incredibly rewarding. What’s better is that I can’t say enough great things about my boss. She gives me creative license, great doses of empowerment, we communicate well, and we hold the same vision for where the company is headed.
So here is my quandary…stay tuned for further updates. For now, I must clear my thoughts, and the perfect way for me to do that is by cooking. Off to the kitchen I go! The brisk, windy weather outside mandates soup, and nothing hits my warm-me-up button better than a bowl of my blue-ribbon winning corn chowder. Serve it up in a toasted bread bowl and watch your troubles melt away!
BEC’S KICKIN’ CORN CHOWDER
Yield: 8 servings (8 oz. each)
4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
3-4 cups fresh corn (frozen works too, but defrost well)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
In a soup pot, cook the bacon on medium low heat, until it’s rendered down (crispy). Set on paper towel to drain.
Reserve 2 tsp of the bacon grease and use it along with the butter to sauté the thyme, onions and garlic over medium heat. Cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and the potatoes, then bring to a boil and boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down (this will help to thicken the soup and give it a good texture).
Cut the corn kernels off the cob (or use frozen corn that’s been well thawed and drained) and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste (add cayenne pepper for a special kick) and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 to 12 minutes (3-4 if you’re using previously frozen corn). Stir in the crumbled bacon, reserving some for garnish along with the parsley.