Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chowder Challenged

For a while now, like months to be honest, I've felt like I've lost my way in a few of areas of my life and tonight it finally happened, I hit rock bottom.  I lost my way in the kitchen.

One of my Christmas presents from Matt was a CSF (Community Supported Fishery) share from Cape Ann Fresh Catch, a local, sustainable fishery out of Gloucester, MA.  If you know me at all, you know this was a perfect gift for me!  It's been so exciting picking up our fresh fish every other week and trying to figure out what to do with it.  We've learned a ton so far, and ate really well in the process.  Week 1 was kind of rough.  Our first fish was a whole pollock, about 4 lbs.  We did our best to fillet it, made a quick easy dinner and froze the rest of the fish for later use.  Since that day, 6 weeks ago now, I've been dreaming of the fish chowder I planned to make from the leftovers.  I even made some fish stock last week in preparation.  Tonight was finally chowder night...and my dream kind of became a kitchen nightmare.

Having never made chowder before of any kind, I did my home work, or so I thought.  I sought out recipes that were seemingly easy to make and also kind of healthy.  When I finally settled on one I was optimistic.

Tonight I was reminded of a few grounding, and humbling, truths about my life.  I am not a chef.  I have some culinary limitations that I tend to wildly underestimate.  Sometimes this gets the best of me.  I also have absolutely no idea how to use a food mill, or quite frankly why I own one.  It would seem that I have been under the impression for years now that my food mill is capable of tasks that I now know it is not.

My chowder, which I thought would turn out to be a smooth, rich, flavorful soul-warming treat on a cold night, after a ton of calorie-burning shoveling this weekend, actually was quite the opposite in every way.  It was a runny, lumpy, watery and a pain in the ass to make.  I'll spare you the truly ugly details, but as it turns out, a food mill will not separate cooked fish from it's skin, bones and scales like I assumed it would.  Fail.

Like any epic oops in my life, I've already found a silver lining in this kitchen calamity.  Here I am blogging about it.  I've been searching for my voice lately, and for a reminder of why I started writing this in the first place.  Bingo!  Consider me reminded!

I started this blog because I wanted to reach out to people who have felt like I am feeling know, who have wasted time and ingredients on dishes that turned out to be, shall we say, "less than wow."  I want this blog to be a place where I can share my culinary successes and slips, and for anyone who reads it to realize that if I can hitch up my skirt time and time again and get back in the kitchen, so can they!  I'm not going to let fish chowder get me down!  I'm going to get back to basics tomorrow night and make something I know I am good at.  Once my fragile kitchen ego recovers from tonight's bruises I'm gonna give fish chowder another try.  God only knows we have enough fish, and I now I sure know what not to do!  Sometimes you have to get a thing or two wrong before you can appreciate how good it feels to get them right!