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Things got Basic the weekend before last. Inspired by the hint of chill in the air, I donned plaid one day and the next loaded up Andy, my mom and my friend Tori and headed to the corn maze at Aunt Louise’s Farm in Monticello, FL. Neither my mom nor myself had ever been to a corn maze before, so there was a decent amount of fluctuation between cautious excitement and down right childlike glee over the prospect of seeing what we could see.
It was the first weekend the maze had been opened to the public, and since we all managed to get up and out early, we were literally the fist paying customers to walk the maze for 2016. The maze itself was a decent size and peppered with festive scarecrows, punny signs, and, oddly enough, tiny watermelons (I’m guessing a holdover from this summer?). With the exception of a few spider web mishaps, we made it through the maze in good time, quite pleased with ourselves and ready to check out the rest of what the farm had to offer… …like the corn pit. My mom blatantly ignored the rule by throwing a handful of corn down my shirt pretty much as soon as I stepped foot into the pit. I tried to roll over to prevent more kernels from lodging in my bra, and she and Tori preceded to try and bury me. There was lots of laughter and additional shenanigans, much to the delight of our fellow farm visitors. And yes, even after a vigorous shaking of garments, I still found corn in my bra, shirt, and pants pockets when I changed for be that night. Of course I found and made friends with the farms’s feline petrol officer Angel. She was very sweet and quite fond of ear scratches. The farm is home to a number of different animals, and I spent the next couple of hours walking around with my cup of feed, making friends, and getting baby animal snuggles. My mom had been teasing me earlier about my dietary choices (being pescatarian) and trying to understand why I do what I do, so I told her as we were scratching the ears of the trio of baby calves “this is why”. I don’t mind other people doing what is right for them, but the deep love and appreciation I have for these fluffy and feathered cuties is the reason I gave up land meat. I was the tiniest bit afraid that the alpacas would spit at me, but the farm hand told us that these guys were supper mellow, and they only spit at people when they got scared 🙂 Before heading home, we made a quick by the concession stand and picked up a couple of the farms famous cornbread waffles and relaxed under the shaded picnic tables. A really great trip, and it’s something I can see us doing again and again for years to come.
After that crazy long post yesterday I’ll keep this one short. My friend Rachel made this the last time her vegetarian sister came to visit. AMAZING. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find soups or chowders that don’t use beef or chicken stock as their base. So finding a veggie based chowder and one that doesn’t taste bland? Pretty much made my week.
Yield: Serves 6
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 red pepper, seeds removed and diced
3 tablespoons minced poblano pepper
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and diced
2 cups vegetable broth
3 ears sweet corn, kernels removed-save the empty cobs to put back in the pot (or 2 cups frozen or canned corn)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese-optional, for serving
1. In a large soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, red pepper, poblano pepper, and potatoes. Add the vegetable broth and empty cobs of corn, if using, and cook until vegetables are tender. This will take about 10 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and milk. Pour mixture into the soup pot. Stir. Add in the corn kernels, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let the soup simmer for 20-30 minutes on the stove.
3. Remove empty cobs of corn, if using, and ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with cheddar cheese, if desired.
Image and recipe from here.