Wednesday, June 04, 2014

the comfort score

Competition is a funny thing.  For some, it's a driving factor to succeed, no matter where you're positioned within the game. For others, it's a validation of your greatness...or weakness.

Our son recently competed at the regional level for track and field.  Although he performed very well for his first event, he strived to exceed his own personal record set during the qualifying rounds at school, and was disappointed.  As much as it would have made ME feel better to wrap my arms around him with reassurance, instead we gave him space and freedom to be consoled by his amazing group of buddies, whom with their support, gave him just the amount of encouragement he needed to re-group, bringing his determination back to excel on the next round of competition.  It also gave him the gratitude of having such friends by his side, and in turn, he became their biggest supporter during their events.

Although individually, each of these boys can be competitive and strive for excellence, witnessing their camaraderie on track and field day to me, validated their greatness not in the sport itself, but their sportsmanship.

As we wind down during the final weeks of school, it feels like we need just a little more encouragement to complete final assignments and tests that seem to compete with the lure of warm weather and summer vacations looming around the corner.  After a year's worth of work, it's like the last leg of the race when you feel like you're starting to lose steam but can see the finish line right in front of you.  Once the kids cross the finish line, I hope they don't just reflect on their academic achievements, but take comfort knowing that they achieved far more personal accomplishments with their friendships than any score could ever give.

Potato Leek with Cod Chowder
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 4-6 full servings

Nothing beats fresh corn and seafood in the summer.  Although most people think of chowders as comfort food during cold weather climates, this chowder is surprisingly fresh...perfect for cool summer evenings.

  • 6 slices bacon, sliced.
  • 2 tbsp of butter (instead of using bacon fat to cook leek)
  • 1 large leek, whites and greens separated 
  • 2 cloves (teaspoons) finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups milk (2%...I used 3% homogenized)
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used organic low sodium chicken stock)
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½  pound cod, skin removed, cubed (I used 400g package of frozen Wild Pacific Cod Fillets)
  • 2 1/2 cups cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (or one 12oz can of peaches and cream corn--omit salt if using canned corn as it already has a high sodium content)
  • While dicing potatoes and leeks, cook bacon in a cast iron skillet in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. (or brown over medium heat until crisp, 6 minutes on the stovetop)
  • Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate; slice. 
  • In a large stock pot, sauté leek and garlic (white part) for 2 minutes with butter until softened.
  • Add flour; cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. 
  • Stir in potatoes, milk, broth, thyme, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes. 
  • Stir in fish, corn and bacon; simmer 10 minutes or until fish is cooked and flakes.
  • Garnish with extra bacon or chopped scallion.

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