Turkey Chowder

I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about the spaces in my mind. These ‘unprecedented times’ just feel like a free fall from >insert one of any big skyscrapers in your city of choice< to which the end just might be a mighty thud. When not working I spend my days trying to survive the emotional landmines. Some days are better than others as we live in our pressure cooker – trying to keep everyone in a peaceful state of mind, distract ourselves with cooking, baking or the latest streaming content and simultaneously tethering ourselves to help with those we love that we can no longer physically hug or be in close quarters which leaves me emotionally raw or ‘heart naked’.

And while I don’t often share these thoughts aloud, I have just about run out of rope. If you know me, you know that I am direct. And while I will go out of my way to be positive, I encourage you to read the subtext. Read.| Between.|The.| Lines.| Whether you live in a COVID ‘bubble’ or alone, there is not one scenario that is easier than the other. Everyone craves to be consoled and desperately wishes to wake-up and return to their normally scheduled lives. Well, most everyone, and I applaud those that are in the ‘other’ category for they are truly happy in this space and that is something I admire. I must be honest, despite it all, when I think back on these past months since the pandemic lock-down, there have been some really fantastic things that have happened, and new memories have been created that I truly cherish.

When I reflect back, I can see that my survival mode has been to flip the script. I don’t want every celebratory moment to be compared to what it previously was, and by making it new, or different, it somehow feels less unpleasant. For Thanksgiving, I opted out of cooking altogether. I know, shocking! My goal was to get outside and have an adventure, isolated but an adventure none-the-less. With that declaration made, my aunt/godmother, offered to host an outside socially distanced dinner the night before. Despite my efforts to avoid Thanksgiving, she made it very special for all of us.

Similarly, when the December holiday traditions started to surface, I had decided to opt out of my elaborate decorations.

>basically, pitching the baby out with the bathwater- yes, I too can sulk<

While on the phone with my friend, Shawn, he provided his sage and unsolicited advice to keep the traditions alive. He encouraged me to bake and exchange cookies on a much smaller scale and I listened. In doing so I found some true and deep smiles.

What can you deduce from all of this that I am sharing? Well, I am changing. I think we all are. I think we will feel the effects of this year for many years to come. Personally, I find that I have become an active listener. I’ve learned to read Zoom body cues. I’ve learned that some nights we need space and that it is best not to sit around the dinner table. And while I still find comfort in food and cooking, I am aware that things look a bit different. I have so much screen time logged that it pains me that even here, in my most favorite of hobbies, I struggle to write. I just want to distance myself from my devices.

So, how to we get from here to soup? Well, since my story starts with Thanksgiving, and loops back into the theory that we all need comfort, I am sharing my recipe for Turkey Chowder. For me creating this recipe was like a big hug in a bowl! It hits all of the flavor nodes and yet isn’t the usual turkey soup I’ve concocted for years. I still enjoy the usual recipe, but this year is different and so is this version of my soup. It is a hearty soup that is also light and creamy, very flavorful and loaded with turkey, wild rice and vegetables. Basically, it is the perfect solution to leftover turkey, and it makes enough to freeze half of the soup for another time.

This soup does take a bit of time and energy to get together, but I can tell you it will be well worth the effort.

Turkey Chowder

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked wild rice

1 cup butter, unsalted

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 large carrots sliced into 1/4 -inch coins

8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 cup flour

2 cans low sodium chicken broth

12-14 cups water

4 cups half and half

2 TBS soy sauce

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme

½ cup fresh celery tops finely chopped or parsley (or 4 tsps dried parsley)

8 cups cooked and coarsely chopped chicken

4 tsps lemon juice, fresh squeezed

Directions

Prepare wild rice according to package directions (cooks approx. 50-60 minutes). Once the rice is cooked it should have a curled appearance with the darker outer shell broken open to reveal the lighter interior. This can even be prepared 1-2 days ahead of time and kept refrigerated.

The remainder of the recipe can be made in one large pot. Melt butter over medium heat. Then add the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Stir well and sauté until the onion is softened and translucent.

Add in the flour gradually, until it bubbles slightly. Gradually add in the broth, stirring continuously. Once the flour is combined, turn the heat up and bring the soup to a low boil for 1-2 minutes.

Reduce the heat slightly and add the rice, half and half, soy sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme celery leaves and turkey. Simmer for 20 minutes or until thoroughly warmed.

Stir in the fresh lemon juice and season to taste. Serve with bread.

Note: If reheating you may need to thin out the soup with a bit of hot water.

Vanilla Cupcakes- Gluten Free

After 231 days of the global pandemic, I found a sense of quiet. Not the kind of quiet that makes you shudder with anxiousness, but rather the kind of quiet that carries with it a sense of serenity. I have no explanation for this unexplained magic, yet that didn’t concern me. As I took the dog on his evening walk, I listened to the nothing-ness abound and absorbed this uncharacteristic sense of calm. It made me miss this space, this place where I come to meet you intermingled with my thoughts.

Despite my lack of blogging, my recipe development has not ceased. I do find that as much as I love to cook and write, the pandemic has also brought with it excessive screen time. I now find it difficult to unwind here as much as I used to enjoy doing so, and I conversely miss being here beyond measure.

When speaking with a friend today, I realized that not only are the emotions of those around me running high, but my emotions, often pushed down, are also quite amplified. With Halloween now in the rear-view mirror, I am forced to admit that I am nearing the point that I almost don’t care about any holidays any longer. The pandemic lifestyle has ruined them all. That’s not to claim that there have not been good outcomes from this locked-in/locked-down abyss. There have been times of great laughter, happiness and joy. It’s just all so stale, and still no true end in sight. I miss being a global citizen of the world, and the fun spent with those friends and family that live far away. I find the less I am out in the world, the less I do in my free time. I am confined with my thoughts, without reprieve. I continue to focus on living in these moments, keeping those around me happy, and helping each of us find moments of joy.

Oddly enough, as expansive as time is, I find that I resist making plans. With an intense work schedule, I crave unstructured time – last minute plans and wishful thinking that someone will serendipitously be nearby and come by to surprise me and say hello. But in this seemingly post-apocalyptic world, that doesn’t really happen.

I focus on my creative vibe – I continue to love to cook. This recipe is one that I hold near and dear to my heart. It is one I created for some of my favorite gluten-free loves, and to me it is a treasure from its light and airy texture to its pleasant flavors. Added bonus, it is refined sugar free. Hold onto this recipe, you are going to want to set this on your repeat list.

Vanilla Cupcakes- Gluten Free

Ingredients

2 cups blanched almond meal

1 cup canned coconut milk

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup rice malt syrup (or honey)

¼ cup coconut flour, lumps removed

4 eggs

1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.

In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, coconut flour and baking powder. Mix with a whisk to combine.

In a small bowl add butter and syrup, beat with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Then add the eggs, vanilla and coconut milk and continue to mix. Batter will appear slightly lumpy.

Add wet mixture into the dry mixture and gently stir by hand until combined.

Pour mixture into the cupcake liners, fill to the top, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool, they will slightly deflate.

Note: Cupcakes can also be frozen for a later treat if you can resist finishing them off.

Plum Cardamom & Strawberry Swirled Sweet Bun Fillings

Month five of lockdown, or is it locked-in? I’ve lost track. The weeks somehow manage to fly by and the weekends crawl at a much slower pace. I’ve abandoned counting the days since this all began, but I can tell you that as I write this post, we are about 28 weeks in (or 195 days!). With 52 weeks in a year, that seems like a significant amount of time to remain virtually isolated.

We remind ourselves that we are lucky. We could not really want for anything, but yet something still does not seem right. Our lives are changed, and the Continue reading ‘Plum Cardamom & Strawberry Swirled Sweet Bun Fillings’

Authentic Dutch Apple Pie

Sometimes friendships find you and then happily take you through the years. When you reflect, suddenly you realize that the memories appear to be more abundant than you realized.

This past October, my friend Lisa organized an intimate housewarming party. Our small group decided that we would each bring something for the celebration. The evening was lovely beyond words, as we passed the hours away with a delicious dinner (thanks to our hostess Lisa, a.k.a. ‘Cupcake’), fantastic bubbles and wines (thanks to our resident sommelier John, a.k.a. the ‘Wine Ninja’), and great company (all of the above plus Leon, Ursula, Eric, and Zara). The hours flew by as we chatted, laughed, and shared stories al fresco. To close out the already perfect evening, the featured dessert was a stunning homemade pie. Or, as I like to think of it, my very first introduction to Dutch Apple Pie- made by the lovely Ursula. Since that night onward, I’ve chased this recipe. I am no stranger to apple pie, but this was beyond compare. Continue reading ‘Authentic Dutch Apple Pie’

Apple Cherry Pie

After the world was turned on its head, the world then stood still….for a very, very long time.

We are only 60 days into lockdown and I vacillate from the feeling that every day is a blur to there are some really amazing great memories we are creating together. There is plenty of time for deep reflection and undeniably plenty of ups and downs as we all have our days where we feel a bit less positive. We are keeping focused on the long game, we know we may not get out anytime soon, but at least we are finding ways to enjoy ourselves with cooking, baking, binging shows, memes and long walks with or without our old hound dog. Continue reading ‘Apple Cherry Pie’

The World Was Turned On Its Head

The world was turned on its head.

The people were told to distance themselves, limited to only essential outdoor activities.

The news increased a sense of panic and despair.

The economy plummeted.

Humanity behaved poorly.

At a glance those are my out-takes of the past few weeks. And yet, I implore you to look harder. To increase and strengthen your mind game. To be the kind of person that you want to meet in the future. To show Continue reading ‘The World Was Turned On Its Head’

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars & Other Musings

As I post this long overdue note, I am reminded how quickly life can change – and it has. Week One of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in my part of the world saw the initial lockdown expanded from local pockets in the Bay Area to all of California. It has us all looking for ways to stay connected. Virtual is the new every day- and respectful in-home space is a necessity for the new work and study from home evolving culture. I’ll be sharing more recipes and thoughts but for now, let’s get back to a day, not oh, so long ago when this Black Swan event wasn’t even a blip in our consciousness. Continue reading ‘Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars & Other Musings’

PB&R Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been in hibernation mode. Taking a planned break to just have fun cooking and spending time with people I miss engaging with regularly. I remember as a child looking at my grandparents in awe of how many friends and acquaintances they had. The list of contacts seemed endless and my daughter made a comment over the weekend that reminded me of that feeling. I understood her perspective and the sheer awe of the network.

The last few years have taught me one thing loud and clear- spend time only with those that are worth your time. Laugh and smile and make everyday fun. There is a lot we have to be grateful for…don’t waste a minute of it wishing your life could be otherwise. Continue reading ‘PB&R Chocolate Chunk Cookies’

Noli Style Limoncello Tiramisu

When creating this summer dessert, I was transported back in time to last summer in Italy. The dreamy days spent in Sorrento with my mother were filled with sipping on endless cordials of limoncello as we traversed the Amalfi Coast in a surreal state of unencumbered happiness. It was a special trip to have this mother/daughter time together after surpassing so many of life’s hurdles. It was special beyond words. Continue reading ‘Noli Style Limoncello Tiramisu’

Lemonicious Blueberry Slab Cake

Calling all summer lemon lovers! I have to say, after having taken a much-needed blogging hiatus, YOU passionate dessert foodies have all inspired me to come back to share my adventures in the kitchen. Let’s get right to business. >I know, all this time away from blogging and I am suddenly robbing you of a story but maybe you are done with my insights and just looking for a good recipe “sans” deep thoughts. Maybe.<

This Lemonicious Blueberry Slab Cake recipe glows of summer and is the perfect refreshing crowd-pleaser to close out a good BBQ. Continue reading ‘Lemonicious Blueberry Slab Cake’