December 9, 2011 § 2 Comments
…is to be with my family.
Here’s a beautiful memory: all of us Bralley girls in our jammies (except for Brikki, in her little Christmas dress) after a wonderful Christmas day. Daddy is behind the camera. (Sorry you’re not in this photo, Dad … I’m limited in the older photos that I have on hand.)
I’m headed home December 24, and I’ll be there until January 4. James is coming December 31, and he’ll fly back with me! It will be a wonderful Christmas break.
October 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
What’s your favorite kind of clam chowder?
Are you a fan of the rich, creamy New England variety? Or do you think the spicy tomato broth of its Manhattan relative is one of the most heartwarming soups you’ve ever tasted?
I really, really love Manhattan clam chowder. Whenever I eat it, I am reminded of my Grandma Arguijo. I was thinking about her while I made this, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t sure why. But I knew it had something to do with Tabasco, as strange as that may sound. So I asked my mom that evening. She jogged my memory:
The first time I tried Manhattan clam chowder was with my Grandma at the Shrimp Boat, a restaurant in Rosemead, California that I don’t think is still around. Grandma taught me a trick—add a few dashes of Tabasco to the soup for some spice. I was hooked. Soon I was adding a few dashes to anything that I felt needed a pick-me-up: eggs, burritos, tomato soup. My little 5- or 6-year-old palate was pretty hard core, if you ask me.
To this day, I still automatically think Tabasco when I think of Manhattan clam chowder. But when I made this batch, I didn’t have any Tabasco in the cupboard, so Louisiana Hot Sauce had to stand in as a substitute. It was good, but lacked that extra zap of spice you find in Tabasco. But this recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder, which delivers plenty of heat. So if you don’t want to push it past that, don’t feel too pressured.
Try this recipe on Sunday afternoon and let it simmer for about an hour, or you can put everything in a Crock-Pot and keep it set on low all day long. But whatever you do, make sure it gets to simmer and really absorb the flavor. Then you get that deep, zesty, comforting warmth that brings me back to spending time with my beautiful Grandma.
Serve this with a crusty French bread.
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 dried bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 (6.5-ounce) cans minced clams
3 to 4 Russet potatoes, rinsed, dried, and chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Cook bacon in Dutch oven over low heat until fat starts to render. Increase heat to medium and cook until crispy, stirring frequently. Remove bacon from Dutch oven and remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat.
Add olive oil to Dutch oven. Add garlic and cook over medium heat until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add onion, carrots, bay leaf, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add potatoes.
Drain clams and reserve liquid in measuring cup. Add water to clam liquid to make 2 cups clam stock. Pour stock over vegetable mixture. Add enough additional water to cover potatoes (about 1/2 cup). Partially cover Dutch oven and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
Drain liquid from can of tomatoes into soup. Chop tomatoes and put into soup (include any liquid released from tomatoes while chopping). Add clams, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 to 35 minutes or up to an hour.
Garnish with chopped bacon and serve, discarding bay leaf.
Related: what I ordered: La Galleria 33
January 20, 2010 § 3 Comments
I should be working on a personal culture sketch for my assistantship. Please bear with me as I am in a personal, reflective mood.
It’s funny how one song can bring back a flood of memories. While I was sipping my iced coffee in Strip Teas this morning, “The Calculation” by Regina Spektor started playing overhead. And the nostalgia hit me so hard I nearly cried. Instantly I longed for early summer mornings of waking up to drive my sister to work in Birmingham. Waking up to trees in my window, a ceiling fan whirring too fast for comfort, thick, heavy heat permeating through the windows, and the smell of coffee heating on the stove. My first summer of fire flies, first summer of Alabama beach with white sand. So many good friends.
And now, as I listen to a cold rain fall hard as I snuggle under a blanket in Tuscaloosa, I am listening to “Folding Chair.”
Come and open up your folding chair next to me. My feet are buried in the sand, and there’s a breeze. There’s a shadow, you can’t see my eyes, and the sea is just a wetter version of the skies.
And all I want is to be tan, to be sipping iced coffee, and to run to the grocery store by just stepping outside and cutting through an alley past a foul dumpster, and a small stream with a neglected boat at its side.
Well if my personal piece were about what I enjoyed about this summer, I would feel relieved. But right now I’m expressing a few hundred words the culture I embrace. I never thought this would be so hard to share to what extent I embrace my Mexican heritage. But every time I get to a point where the piece should wrap itself up, I am unhappy with the tone or what I’ve left the reader with. Ah, story of my life. It’ll get there by tomorrow.
Anyways, it has been a good while since I’ve written anything. Since I last wrote, swarms of Alabama fans took over Los Angeles (I still get excited when I see flashes of crimson, until I remind myself that I’m back in Tuscaloosa), and I helped cover the madness for The Tuscaloosa News:
Saturday I’m heading to UAB for the Birmingham Better Watchdog Workshop. Look for my post discussing “The Art of Interviewing” segment.