Clouds from both sides now

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The cloud is a lovely, puffy companion that lends a friendly feeling to the landscape. Unless it's a dark rain-dense cloud, in which case it casts a menacing shadow. Either way, it never occurred to me to file my recipes in a cloud.

Which is what the computer had been urging. It seemed to think I should store everything — photo album to address book — in the cloud.

At first I resisted. The cloud looks so fluffy and porous, I was certain all my photos and spreadsheets would fall out, raining random data on the landscape. Then I got frustrated. The phone and the computer started squabbling like siblings. They couldn't agree on anything. Finally, I gave in. That's how it works with new technology: Resist, get frustrated, give in.

While I was supposed to be cooking up corn soup, I signed up for cloud computing. Right away the computer and the phone started colluding. Now instead of one thinking I've got a meeting at noon and the other claiming it's at 1, they both say I've two meetings, one at noon and one at 1. I don't consider this an upgrade. Yet.

But I know how these things work: resist, sigh, give in. Also, the word-processing and data-spreading and power-pointing programs no longer work. Even if I stomp outside and focus on the nearest cloud. When I complained to the guy at the computer store, he shrugged. Of course not, he explained. You agreed to that when you clicked "agree."

So, now I have twice the meetings and none of the documents. No recipes. No stories. No charts. Apparently there's a way to get it all back, but I'm still in the resisting phase. If I ever regain access to the archive, I'll be full of snappy tidbits about corn soup. In the meantime, I've got nothing but my cloudy memory to consult: Corn is delicious and crunchy on the cob, delicious and creamy when cooked into soup. Toss in both kernel and cob to release the sweet corn "milk," and the whole endeavor ends up as silky smooth as if it was strained through a cloud.

Corn soup is a pleasant distraction on a hot day when you don't have much to do. Or much you can do, given that all your work is locked in a cloud.

Corn soup

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
3 strips bacon, cut thinly crosswise
4 cups corn kernels shaved from about 6 ears corn (reserve 3 cobs)
1 onion, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups each: chicken broth, water

Crisp:
Cook bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Scoop out bacon bits with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towel.

Brown:
Add 3/4 cup corn kernels, 1/4 cup chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cover; cook over medium heat, 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring, until corn is brown, about 7 minutes. Scoop out corn and onion; drain on paper towel.

Soften:
If pot looks dry, add a little vegetable oil. Add remaining onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until soft, about 7 minutes. Add remaining corn kernels. Stir to coat.

Simmer:
Pour in broth and water. Add 3 corncobs. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender, about 12 minutes. Cool a little. Discard cobs.

Swirl:
Blend soup thoroughly, in batches, if need be. Press through a medium-mesh sieve into a clean pot. Discard solids. Reheat soup. Add salt and pepper if you like. Ladle into 4 bowls. Garnish with reserved bacon and browned corn. Enjoy.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.
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