The Island Epicure – Clam Chowder
Recipes, September 2023

The Island Epicure – Clam Chowder

By Marjorie Watkins

When I was a little girl, almost 6 years old, I heard the grown-ups talking about the stocks falling, and I imagined the cows tripping and falling down. On Gramma Brunson’s farm, they had seven cows. All those cows fell down? Oh, that is sad! I hope someone helped them get up.

But no, what that meant was that there was no market for our walnuts or black raspberries. The walnuts we dried in our attic. Uncle Hans had a drier, and he dried our berries so they would keep over winter. Then we had these big sacks of walnuts and dried berries, and that’s what us kids had to sit on in the car.

We lost our farm in Oregon because we couldn’t make payments on it. My mother said, “Oh Howard, what are we going to do?” And my dad said,”We’ll pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” I thought, they are going crazy, the grownups are talking so crazy!

My dad said, “We will go to Rockaway, to the beach. I will dig clams, and you will make clam chowder.” Well, that perked my mother up. She didn’t know how yet, but she could see we would turn clams into money.

We drove almost all day. It took a long time to get our Model T to the beach, through the mountains, and to Rockaway. My dad found a cabin we could live in with him; he was caretaker for some summer cabins, and my mother opened a seafood restaurant where she sold clam chowder and salt water taffy.

Clam Chowder

  • Two 7-oz cans of minced clams
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped or diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • Optional: season with dill or oregano

Drain clams, reserving the liquid. Fry bacon in deep skillet. Remove bacon bits and fry onions in bacon drippings. Add potatoes with enough water to cover, and cook until tender, about ten minutes. Add bacon bits, salt, pepper, and reserved clam liquid. Add milk and cream. Heat, but do not bring to a boil. Serve with toast and salad. Makes 6 servings.

Substitute for part of the milk: ¼ cup powdered milk combined with just enough liquid to make a paste; stir into potato water when potatoes are done.

September 7, 2023

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