Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hudson River Creamy Corn Chowder

Dear Reader,

I don't know about you, but I am ready for these long and humid summer days to be over.  I yearn to put away the salad spinner and break out my Le Creuset cookware.  My kids are driving each other nuts, which is in turn driving me nuts, which in turn drives my kids even further to the far edge of nuttiness.  This morning, in search of a little adventure, a friend and I took our kids on New York City's FIREBOAT.  I had heard of this boat before.  It is in fact a little famous, being the subject of the succinctly titled children's book Fireboat.

It sounded like fun.  Rendezvous at Pier 66 at 9:30 AM for a quick chug down the Hudson and back.  The website warned, "You might get a little wet," so I packed our snacks in a baggie, brought along an umbrella and some extra sweatshirts and headed out.

Today is the first day of summer that seemed like it might be sort of rainy, so of course we couldn't get a cab.  I hopped on the bus along with six hundred other people and crawled across town.  The kids and I pushed our way out when we reached the river and ran as fast as my daughter's flip flops would allow.  We got on board just before The Harvey pulled out.

A very nice gentleman told us the horn would be a little loud, and offered as an aside, "The only place you're not going to get a little wet is inside with the Captain."  We laughed, and hoped it wouldn't rain.  We headed down the Hudson along with a well-dressed guy from Fox News who was covering today's mission.  Apparently a man has paddled his surfboard all the way from Key West to NYC, and The Harvey was welcoming him to Manhattan.  Clearly this man left before Shark Week, because I wouldn't get on a surfboard in the Hudson River if you paid me.

We took pictures, ate pretzels and pointed out New York City sights to the kids.

Like where they play baseball.

Where my sister lives.

Where their teacher lives.

You know, all the big attractions.  Up ahead we could see the surfer paddling down by South Ferry.  We waved.

He waved back. 

Then we heard over the loudspeaker, "Water."

There was a crushing, clanging sound and suddenly rust colored gushes appeared from around the taps, flooding the floor we were standing on.  I looked up and giant plumes were shooting into the air.  Miraculously we weren't getting wet at all!  We took pictures.

Then the Captain turned the boat around, and thousands of gallons of brackish water from the Hudson River came crashing down, kids were screaming, as all Hell broke loose.  I tried desperately to keep my phone dry in my pocket, even as I could feel the water pooling in my underwear.  My daughter was hysterical, panicking, screaming, "Mommy! Make it stop! Make it stop! I want to go home!" She tried to climb down the ladder to get inside, but the water was worse down there, and I was worried she might get shot over the side into the river.  We clung to each other, a huddled mass, yearning to breathe free, or breathe at all, tempest-tost off the coast of Battery Park City.

And then, just as quickly as it had begun, it was over.  I tried to cheer up the younger kids who were still crying and show them that really, this was very funny.  We all took a deep breath and were just about to laugh when we heard, "Water."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screamed my daughter. I grabbed onto her before she could throw herself overboard.  Like a monkey I carried her down the ladder and below deck.  We were soon joined by the others, all of us stuffed in the tiny room like steerage passengers on the S.S. Ramshackle.  The man from Fox asked if he could please, please, get off the boat.  The Captain nosed up to a dock and the intrepid reporter leaped off as the Captain joked he was going to quickly throw the boat in reverse.  "What's one less reporter from Fox News?"

We waddled to find taxis, came home, showered and put on our winter clothes.  I made a delicious corn chowder, adapted from the Fields of Greens cookbook by Annie Somerville my mother gave me.  It seems I had found that rarest of days: one when you hunger for warm, thick, comforting soup, and corn is actually in season.

Hudson River Creamy Corn Chowder

You will need:
7 cups Corn Stock
5 or 6 ears corn, kernels removed
1 pound potatoes, cubed
Salt and Pepper
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
Tabasco, or other hot sauce

Dump sopping wet clothes in the washer, and bundle up in your coziest robe.  Turn on the television for the children and heat up corn stock in a pot.  Add 2 cups stock, all but 2 cups of kernels, and half of the potatoes to a soup pot.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  The stock should be slightly less salty than the gallons of Hudson River water you ingested this morning.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes while you take a steaming hot shower.  Puree the corn and potatoes with a few cups more stock in a blender, being careful that none shoots out the top like the freezing geyser that rained on your head earlier.  Pour it back into the pot with the rest of the stock, bay leaves and simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, brandy is in order.  If you don't have a Saint Bernard, you'll have to get it yourself.  Three glugs should do it.  Heat the butter and oil in a pan and saute the onions, dried herbs and some salt and pepper, until the onions are as soft and soggy as the sneakers you left outside your door.  Add the garlic, celery and the rest of the corn and potatoes.  Cook until everything is soft, add the wine and cook a few minutes more.

Mix everything together, season with salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes more while you watch iCarly with the kids.  Stir in basil and enjoy with spritz of Tabasco, being thankful that school will be starting soon.

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