We did the Country Living Fair (sponsored by Country Living Magazine) at the end of April to launch our furniture business, Thelma and Nate. It turned out better than we ever could have dreamed. The week before the show I was worried we wouldn’t sell anything. By 2:00 p.m. on the first day, Friday I was frantic we didn’t have enough product. I came home that night to a wonderful pot of corn chowder on my front porch and a fresh loaf of french bread and a half pound of butter (just the right amount for a loaf of bread) left for us by my very best girlfriend/sister in the world, Shelly Baughman. I ate a huge bowl, possibly the best soup I have ever had and fell face first into the bed. At 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning I got up and started pulling furniture out of the house (the things Keith and I had made over the years for ourselves) to load up and take to the fair. Ate a bowl of corn chowder for breakfast and took off to go back to the fair. We were running low on pieces and I was worried we would run out, dear Lord! It was a good show and I was stunned at the amount of business we did. I heard again and again from the people that bought our furniture that the quality and design and integrity of our work was like nothing they had ever seen. That was so gratifying. I’ve been an artist for a long time, with sculpture and jewelry as my main areas. Our furniture to me is like sculpture that is useful, with a degree of artistic integrity that simply is NOT found in mass produced pieces. My mother, Barbara Eaker White Eller was so supportive of my artistic self all my life. She understood that the singular work I did sprang from a creative place she had never known and she honored that. Her talent was music and she sang in a clear soprano that could bring tears to your eyes, my son Nate gets his musical ability from her. I made Momma’s wedding bands when she married my stepdad when I was 19, she was so proud to wear something I had made. I know if Mama were here today she would be wanting to buy everything we make, and she would try but I would just end up giving it to her. It was wonderful to have her support.
The wonderful man I married, Keith Miller has the same artistic soul I have. We have so many original ideas we have portfolios of drawings we may never get to. It weird how we work so well together, his strengths are my weakness, and my strengths are his weakness. Make no mistake, I do most of the designing and he does most of the building, and then I do most of the finishing. We do one of a kind furniture from 100 year old wood that has a soul. And we are not for everyone. If you think its ok to purchase a mass produced particle board headboard made in China (so many issues with that kind of product), then we are not for you. Integrity is our bottom line, I want this furniture to last another 100 years and get more beautiful with age. Quality is my end result. Like the food I cook and feed my family every day. I want the best produce, the best dairy, the best meat I can lay hands on to feed my family. I don’t do canned soup, I don’t do prepackaged. I don’t do fast food. The wonderful meals that my Granny cooked on a daily basis are my touchstone. Is it harder to shuck 12 ears of corn instead of getting it in the freezer case, yes, but soooo worth it. It is fun to wait for the real tomatoes of summer, no, but again, so worth it.
By the way you’ll need to shuck some corn for this next recipe and pare some carrots while you are at the sink.
So lets get back to the wonderful corn chowder I had mentioned earlier. As you know I have a corn chowder recipe on this blog. And I also mentioned, I have a friend that told me about her corn chowder recipe 23 years ago but she had never given me her recipe. So I just made one up, and it is quite good. Yes, that friend was my best girlfriend Shelly, who teased me all those long years ago, and then never gave me the recipe, although she says she did. Nah. Cause let me tell you, that corn chowder is the one Shelly left on my front porch the 1st night of the show. All I can say it, we ate it all weekend long (it was a cauldron of corn chowder). Had I known that it was that good, I would have gone to her house and stolen it out of her recipe file. SOOO different from mine and so very good. Eat it with a good loaf of french bread and a half pound of butter, yum! I know it’s summer and most people don’t like soup in summer, I like soup all the time, besides the corn is at it’s peak right now.
Shelly’s Corn Chowder
4 cups cubed potatoes (I used red skinned as did Shelly) 2 cups peeled and sliced carrots about 1/4 inch slice 1 cup diced celery 1/2 cup diced onion 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper ( I used white pepper)
Put the above in a large pot with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile cut 4 cups of fresh corn from the cob and set aside.
In a saucepan add 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) and 1/2 cup of a.p. flour, heat over medium heat to make a very light tan roux, Add 4 cups of milk while stirring it in slowly, let it simmer while you stir until it coats the back of a spoon. Add in 1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese, I used American because that is what she used for my pot of chowder, but you can use cheddar, or Parmesan or whatever you like that melts really good.
Once the pot of vegetables are done (fork tender) add in corn, let it simmer for about 2 minutes, corn cooks very quickly. Then add the cheese and milk sauce to the veg pot. Stir it in well. At the last, stir in 1 bag of frozen green peas (unless you have fresh peas the about 1 to 2 cups of fresh). Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Your chowder is done. Serve with a nice crusty french bread and a half pound of butter. This will make about a gallon of soup, but it keeps and re-heats just fine (better the next day). We ate it ALL weekend long. It was manna from heaven.
P.S. I really think you could drain the water from the veg after they are cooked and then add the cheese sauce and peas and have a fine filling for a vegetable pot pie, or a chicken pot pie by adding some cooked chicken and a crust on top, then bake it off.