Friday Night at the Hunting Lodge

I must begin by saying that we do not run a hunting lodge, bed-and-breakfast, boarding house, retreat center, target practice range, catering service, or wedding reception venue.  It just feels that way.  If we really were doing all those things I would not have to limp into work everyday and deal with sleepy teenagers who are completely unproductive until the end of quarter when they will literally interrupt a life-and-death conversation to ask for extra credit points.   So I resist the urge to beat the student over the head with my cane until I can drive my weary self home, where the hills are alive with the sound of…black powder rifles.

We’re full swing into hunting season here at Maywood.  That means the Lodge is open and busy.  We don’t take reservations.  This is strictly a pop-in-if-the-lights-are-on place. (Leaving me this option: The lights are OFF but somebody’s home.)   The Lodge mainly acts as a post-hunting bar, although I must say it’s a classy one–no dead animals on the walls quite yet.  We’re not full-service.  There’s always coffee and beer, but alas, soda is hard to come by. ( I keep forgetting that the lads are hunting with their dads now and they are too young for beer.)  We don’t serve dinner, but snacks are sometimes available.  It gets a little awkward when hunters show up as I’m serving dinner, which is often the case on Fridays.

Last Friday night the place was hopping.  Everyone was out here: Mike and Tim and their boys and cousin Don.  John got a tender doe, Don gutted it, and they all came down to the mancave to tell their hunting tales over a cold drink while having text message arguments with their wives.

“We just popped in to have a quick beer.”

“I know what that means!  You’ll be there another hour!”

This particular Friday I had planned to cook up a big batch of corn chowder.  While John and the others were off in various corners of the woods, I busied myself in the kitchen.  When they all came in, there was a huge stockpot of soup ready to eat.   Shelley and I sat on the sofa with our bowls of chowder.  The lads entertained Harper with new phone apps and the old guys gathered ’round the bar slurping chowder and brewskis and out-yapping each other.  It was fun.

And I won the amazing wife award for pulling off a delicious soup at the end of a grueling week–just to make John happy.  I’ll tell ya…it’s amazing what the right pain meds can do for you.

Here’s the chowder recipe.  I got the original recipe from Allrecipes but have made some changes.  The original recipe was rather bland.  It truly does make full stockpot of chowder.  After feeding six adults, I still had plenty to tuck away in the freezer.

Corn Chowder

2 lbs of  bacon, cooked til crispy and then chopped.  (Or you could chop and then cook til crispy)  Set aside some of the bacon to use as a garnish.

1 onion, chopped and cooked in bacon grease til translucent

4 large baking potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled til soft ( just barely cover the potatoes with water to cook, and save the water to add to the soup)

3 cans of creamed corn ( I used creamed corn I had frozen from summer corn–about 6 ears worth.  If using plain corn, I would increase the flour and a bit of bacon grease with the onions in the soup.)

1/4 cup flour

8 cups  milk

fresh dried thyme leaves

Tabasco sauce

salt and pepper

Heat the cooked onions and the flour in a stockpot until hot and blended.  Add the milk, and heat until hot and steamy.  Mash 1/2 the potatoes and stir them into the milk along with the potato water.  Add the remaining potato chunks, the corn,  the bacon, a fistful of crumbled thyme leaves, a few shakes of Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer to allow the flavors to blend.  Stir frequently or the milk will burn on the bottom of the pot.  Serve garnished with remaining bacon pieces.

Under less fatiguing circumstances, I would serve this with a fresh sweet cornbread and crispy salad.

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