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Best of the Best: Weathering a Southern Winter

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What’s worse than 36* and raining? That would be 35* and raining. I returned to Madison, from a week of 38*- 40* and rain in San Antonio, to a week of 38* and more rain. Give me 4*, sunshine, and my thermos, and I’m good to go. Give me cold, overcast, rainy days, for weeks on end, and I can’t be responsible for my attitude. It’s hard to get warm and smile, when it’s damp and cold. I get cranky. Our southern homes have nice tall ceilings to handle summer extremes. And, if you haven’t noticed, nice tall ceilings handle our heat-pump heat as well. Unless I walk on my hands, my feet will never be warm. If I weren’t such a klutz, bumbling around in the middle of the night, I’d have a cozy, den-like, queen-size winter loft to climb up, and hibernate, in. Do you remember those refrigerator drawers, tucked under the platform bed, I mentioned a while back? Just sayin. I could kick myself to St Bart’s for this delayed moment of brilliance: we were under construction last year. I could be snuggled in a warm loft, tapping on this keyboard, and humming along to the sound of a refrigerator unit keeping my snacks fresh.

I hope my sweet husband doesn’t read this. He dug up six cedar trees and transplanted them along the back of our property the week after Christmas. For him, and his little saplings, it’s the best weather ever. It’s better if he didn’t get word that I’m dissing the weather and considering a little renovation to the renovation.

While this may all be folly and fun, we all need a little something to warm the cockles. My fraternal grandmother weathered wet Washington State winters with a little hot buttered rum and her infamous clam chowder. You may recall, I promised, in this very column, when rambling on about Capri’s, to give you fraternal grandmother’s chowder recipe. Like all her recipes, she never wrote it down. In fear of forgetting something key to a delicious outcome, I found one very similar and tweaked it a little. Grandma’s Chowder has also been known to mend a broken Packer heart. I see a little irony here.

Dang those Seahawks. Taste of Home Contest-Winning New England Clam Chowder Recipe

In the Pacific Northwest, we dig our own razor clams and I grind them for the chowder! Since these aren’t readily available, the canned clams are perfectly acceptable. —Sandy Larson, Port Angeles, Washington TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 35 min. YIELD: 5 servings Ingredients 4 center-cut bacon strips 2 celery ribs, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 cup water 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice 3 teaspoons reduced-sodium chicken bouillon granules 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 2 cups fat-free half-and-half, divided 2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) chopped clams, undrained Directions

1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Sauté celery and onion in the drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the potatoes, water, clam juice, bouillon, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour and 1-cup half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

3. Stir in clams and remaining half-and-half; heat through (do not boil). Crumble the reserved bacon; sprinkle over each serving.

Yield: 5 servings. Nutritional Facts 1-1/3 cups equals 260 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 22 mg cholesterol, 788 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 13 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 starch, 1 lean meat. Follow on: Twitter @cbestdiscovery and Instagram @cbestdiscovery and @ watertowerlandmarks. Share what you’ve discovered @bestdiscovery@aol.com

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