A Bowl of Potato Corn Chowder and Pondering What Not to Wear

A Potato Corn Chowder

I had known about this trip for months. Five months to be exact. Five months to pack, go to the grocery store, make carpool arrangements, buy Birthday presents. Five months to figure out why the fan on my laptop runs continuously when I use it. But here it was t-minus three days and I had yet to do any of that.

In an effort to solve the laptop problem, I decided that I needed to remove photos off the hard drive. Which lead me to an investigation of where certain photo files were before I started the deletion process. Since I have photos backed up to two external hard drives, a few random thumb drives and the hard drives of a laptop and a desktop, it’s sometimes difficult to know just where I put those bloomin’ files.

Before long, I was overwhelmed by the investigation and instead found myself identifying “4923 unknown faces” in iPhoto’s faces feature…3 at a time. This lead to a form of motion sickness and I turned the job over to the 6-year-old who can now read and gets joy from mouse clicks.

As I gave up my chair to my young child and turned to go, the stacks, bags and boxes of “printed” photos caught my eye. Maybe there were hard copies of the missing files? And before I could stop myself, I was immersed in the mission of sorting through and organizing TEN years worth of photos. For TEN YEARS many of these photos had been sitting in non-descript bags without thought and yet here, three days before leaving my family to go across the country on a trip that has NOTHING to do with those photos, I suddenly found an urgent calling to organize them. (Let’s just say, it was a 2 a.m.-er.)

The next morning, sleep-deprived and in a complete fog, I dragged myself to our local “caffeinating-hole,” where I confessed my lunacy to two friends. They empathized. They had “been there, done that.” But why? Why do we feel the need to organize the spice drawer, clean out the pantry, scrub the fridge with a toothbrush or organize 10-years worth of photos right before we leave on a trip?

Nesting…we decided. We want our nest in order before we leave.

And so, across the country and back again I went.* And when I returned, I hugged my sweet chickens, kissed the Rooster and heaved a sigh of relief. Glad to be home safely. Back in my nest.

Once the homecoming festivities had quieted down, I warmed up a bowl of leftover Potato Corn Chowder, (Goodness knows I didn’t eat on the plane.)(Seriously? They can’t even afford a bag of pretzels??) snuck into my little office and admired the shelf of newly labeled photo boxes.

Between each bite of my creamy, herbed soup, I flipped through the boxes, smiling, making note of the passing years and some lessons to be learned from them.

Of course, the biggest lesson of all is: Childhood goes fast. A blink of an eye.
Even though I feel like this was yesterday, the little girl here will be headed to high school in the fall. The little boy…middle school. And the toothy baby, a grown-up first grader. (Sigh….)

A close second to the above lesson is: Be careful what you wear and how you actually allow yourself to be photographed. These decisions can come back to haunt you. Let me give you a few examples of this so you may be spared my pain.

Let this be a warning to all of you first-time pregnant Mama’s in your third trimester who feel frumpy and thick and want to cut your hair off. Don’t do it. Just look at the picture. Need I say more.
No matter how cute the matching Mother and Child photos are in the catalog, this does not necessarily compute to real life. Actually, as you see here, it does not compute at all.
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” 
Sometimes as a mother, no matter how much they beg you to play, it’s just best to say no.
And finally, when asked my number one tip for taking beautiful photographs…never use a flash. Never, ever, ever. Never. Perhaps I should heed my own advice.

The soup bowl was empty. My eyelids were growing heavy. The photographs had been flipped through. The lessons learned. (Or at least acknowledged.) And admiring my boxes of photographs once again, I was glad I had stayed up until the wee hours to organize them.

Sometimes as a mother, when everything is a top priority, it takes that nesting instinct to get these seemingly unimportant projects done. And yet, spending the time, flipping through the years, smiling and watching my children grow-up before my eyes was anything but unimportant.


Potato Corn Chowder

While there are places in the world enjoying sunny days and short sleeve temperatures, this place, my hometown, is not one of them. We are still in the “spring showers” phase. Still carrying around umbrellas and donning our down jackets. Curling up with a bowl of soup continues to be part of our routine. This soup is perfect for spring. It takes advantage of the baby potatoes, leeks and herbs that are currently in-season. Throw in a little frozen corn and some crispy bacon and you’ve got a bowl of soup no one can resist.

2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 lbs of thin-skinned, yellow potatoes, diced (approx 10 cups)
8 c chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 c frozen sweet corn
1/2 c half-and-half (or at least, 2% milk)

6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 c fresh Italian parsley, chopped

In a large soup pot, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add your leeks and sauté for about 8-10 minutes over medium-low heat until they are softened and almost transluscent. Careful not to burn them. Turn your heat down if they are browning too quickly.

Add in your garlic and sauté another minute.

Add your potatoes to the pot and pour in your chicken stock. Add your thyme, salt and pepper. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Reduce your heat to medium-low. With the lid askew, simmer for about 12-14 minutes or until your potatoes are just soft when pricked with a fork.

Add in your corn and simmer another 3-5 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Stir in your half-and-half.

Lay out your toppings. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle a little of this and a little of that on top.

Then, take your bowl over to the window and watch the rain fall while daydreaming of sunnier places.

Yield: One big pot-full

*In case you were curious as to where I went…I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia last week for the BlogHerFood Conference. As you can imagine, we ate, talked and breathed food. I can’t say enough good things about the trip. The women (and men) in the food world are truly amazing people. While I did not even take one picture, my friend (and roommate) Sandy Coughlin of Reluctant Entertainer wrote up a great post about the event (including more incriminating photos of me…clearly I’ll never learn) which you can read by clicking here.

Organizing Project
A bit of a detour. See above. 🙂

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2011


  1. Jim @ comfort in crumbs says:

    Oh I love the picture of the Bat Family. That is a devoted mother, there. Quirky, eclectic and fun. I'd give back my entire childhood for a mom like that.

  2. You are too kind, Jim. Not sure what my children would say especially if the teenager and pre-teen knew that I posted a photo of them as Batgirl and Batman. So, we'll just keep it between us. 🙂

  3. Sandy @ RE says:

    Oh, I love the outfits. You are so beautiful, girl. Great recipe, too. (And your kids are so little and CUTE!)

  4. I love all the pictures in this post 🙂 Especially the Bat-family!

    This soup is just what I want on these rainy Spring nights we've been having lately.

  5. Oh, Sandy, thank you. Loved your write-up about BlogHerFood!

    Brandi, so glad someone else feels the same way about these rainy (and cold) spring nights.

  6. Courtney Cook Hopp says:

    Ahhh . . . I remember all of those outfits! But let this be said — except for the rare "what was I thinking?" moments, you have always been a fashionista to me!

    As for the soup, I think I'm making it tonight!

  7. Ahh, sister, thanks for sticking up for my fashion choices but let this be said…it's hard to beat our outfit savvy mother! 🙂

  8. Just found you blog via Bakerella 🙂 Love your writing, love the pics! Can't wait to read more! (Btw I live south of you in Salem… and am excited to read a local blog)

  9. Hi Melbe7, Thank you so much for stopping by. Love to know there's a Salem gal frequenting La Pomme! I myself just recently discovered Bakerella's delicious blog since I had the opportunity to meet her last week. A talented gal for sure….

  10. This chowder looks delicious! I will have to try it for dinner this week.
    I just recently went through a whole heap of my grandfather's photographs, and then my own and it was so interesting to see the way our family hasn't really changed that much through the generations 🙂

  11. Hi Amy, It is quite interesting how those genetics work over the years…..thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoy the chowder!