This is Mantie, our erstwhile guest from a few weeks ago. She showed up on our porch light last night, munching on moths, the clever girl. She's still a peculiarly pinkish tint, and I really do think it's the same mantis. We plan to search the yard for an egg case soon, and keep it in the Mantis Motel on the porch over the winter. With luck, we'll be able to see the babies emerge. I hope they won't eat each other!
I've enjoyed this summer more than any other summer I can remember, but I'm glad it's winding down. The garden produce is so abundant these days, and the eating is fabulous! One of my favorite late-summer suppers is Corn Chowder. We just had it, accompanied by quick-pickled zucchini dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Try it yourself!
Summer Corn Chowder
8 ears of corn, husked 6 oz salt pork (or bacon) 1T butter 1 medium onion, diced 1 jalapeno pepper, minced 1 cup milk 4-6 small potatoes 3 TBSP fresh thyme leaves 1 cup half and half salt and pepper
Slice the corn off the cob and scrape cobs with back of knife. Put cobs in pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the salt pork into ½” dice and put in lg. dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat is rendered and salt pork is fully cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove salt pork into small bowl, and set aside. Pour off any fat over 2T, add 1T butter, then add onion. Sauté until onions are golden. Add minced jalapeno and sauté another minute. Put 1 cup of the corn with the milk into a blender or a food processor, and puree. Set aside. Cut potatoes into ¼” chunks. As soon as the cobs are finished boiling, strain the liquid through a sieve. Pour the corn-milk puree and about 2 cups of corn stock (from boiling cobs) into pot with onions and pepper. Add remaining corn and the potatoes, and the thyme, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until potatoes are tender. Stir in the half and half. Add coarsely ground pepper to taste, and adjust salt. Chowder may be thinned with more stock. Any remaining stock can be frozen and used in vegetable soups.
Note: For a vegan version, omit the salt pork, swap extra virgin olive oil for the butter, and omit the milk and cream. Instead, use only the corn stock. Add a sweet red pepper to the onions for color and flavor. Do not use any thyme, but finish the soup with fresh chopped cilantro to taste and the juice of one or two limes.
Quick-Pickled Zucchini with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
about 4 cups of coarsely chopped zucchini (about 1/2" chunks) 2T kosher salt juice of 1-2 lemons 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Put the chopped zucchini in a colander over a large bowl and mix in the salt. Allow the zucchini to drain for about an hour. Rinse briefly, squeeze gently, then toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Use the proportions you like for salad dressing, and definitely adjust to your own taste. I like to sprinkle a bit of pepper on these too.