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Lucky Lloyd's Corn Chowder

My father-in-law had a couple nicknames. Around his hometown of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, some people referred to him as the Golfing Farmer. Lloyd Charles Mack was a rare breed in that respect. Not too many dairy farmers in Wisconsin could be found on the links whacking around a little white ball. Occasionally, during the  summer months after evening chores were finished, Lloyd would speed down Bark River Road and head across town to the Koshkonong Mounds Country Club for an emergency nine. He played in a men’s league on Wednesday afternoons and a couples’ league on the weekend with his wife, Phyllis.



Some people called him Lucky Lloyd. Not sure why. His success as a farmer didn’t have much to do with luck. Like most farmers, he worked like a dog. All the time. Every day. All year long. As a side hustle (and what farmer has time for a side hustle?) Lloyd took a job with the U.S. Postal Service as a rural mail carrier, a job he kept long after he retired from farming. For those who knew him, all would agree that Lloyd had many admirable character traits. He was a hard worker; he was kind-hearted; he was generous; he was funny; he was happy; he was faithful to his family, his friends and his beloved St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. And he was a darn good golfer! He made his second hole-in-one when he was 86 years old. That’s two more holes-in-one than yours truly, whose total in that category remains at zero.

 

Lloyd was a true renaissance man. He was a sharp dresser once the barn clothes were shed. He was well traveled. He was an excellent card player, as his euchre and sheepshead opponents would attest. He played the piano and his beautiful singing voice anchored the bass section of the church choir.

 


Lloyd could also be stingy, but not in a bad way. Simply put, he was not wasteful. How was he not wasteful? Let me count the ways. When his kids were little, they would take baths in the evening. Instead of emptying the tub and refilling it with fresh water, Lloyd would bathe in the leftover tepid water, all four inches of it. When we stayed overnight with them, our kids would eat cereal in the morning. Typically, they would leave some milk in their bowls once all the Lucky Charms were gone. Lloyd would go around the table and drink the leftover milk from each of their bowls. If a brick of cheddar cheese got moldy in the fridge, he would just cut the mold off the cheese, slice the remaining 'good' cheese and put it on top of his apple pie like a good German. Lloyd would wear his underwear, tee shirts and work clothes until they were threadbare. Above all, Lloyd never cared much for expiration dates on food containers. When we would visit him in his retirement years, Lisa would look through his refrigerator. It was not unusual to find food items that had, according to the labels, (and I’m not making this up) had exceeded their expiration dates by anywhere from one to four years!

 


After Lisa’s mom passed away, Lloyd was forced to fend for himself on all fronts, including in the kitchen. When he was farming, he didn’t have to worry about buying and preparing food, doing laundry or cleaning the house. On his own, these things became second nature. When we came to visit, he always had a great meal ready and waiting for us. The carpet would always be freshly vacuumed, the tracks of the vacuum cleaner a tell-tale sign. The table in the dining room, underneath the blinding glare of some fluorescent bulbs he bought on sale at Menards, would already be set in preparation for his guests. Our favorite meal, by far, was his homemade corn chowder.


After Lloyd passed away, his children got together to go through his possessions. Everybody got to take something as a keepsake. Lisa and I asked for two things: the old pewter salt and pepper shakers that sat on their dinner table for generations and the large soup pot that he used to make his famous corn chowder along with the original recipe card. A year before he died, we were at his house for a visit. Lisa asked if she could make a video of him preparing his chowder. The two of them stood at the stove for an hour, Lisa videoing her dad as he explained each step in the process.

 


I took it one step further. After coming across his old recipe card in our cupboard, I decided to make Lloyd’s famous corn chowder. Using his original recipe, and adding a few tweaks of my own, I made it for the first time last year. One word can describe the results. YUM! I’ve made it several times since and can do it now from memory. That’s good news for you readers, because I’m going to share the recipe with you!



INGREDIENTS FOR LUCKY LLOYD’S CORN CHOWDER

 

4 LARGE RUSSET POTATOES

1 LARGE YELLOW ONION

1 LB. NUESKE’S APPLEWOOD SMOKED BACON

6-8 EARS OF SWEET CORN or 2 16 OZ. CANS OF SWEET CORN

1 QUART OF CHICKEN STOCK

1 QUART OF HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM

1 QUART BOILING WATER

8-10 SLICES OF PICKLED JALAPENOS (CHOPPED)

1 TSP. OF DRIED OREGENO

1 TSP. SALT

½ TSP. PEPPER

SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE WHEN SERVING

 

DIRECTIONS

 

1.    BOIL WATER FOR THE SWEET CORN, COOK 8-10 MINUTES.

2.    CUT THE BACON INTO SMALL PIECES AND SAUTEE IN THE SOUP PAN UNTIL BROWN. USE LOW TO MEDIUM HEAT SO THE BACON DOESN’T BURN.

3.    PEEL THE POTATOES AND CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES.

4.    CUT THE ONION INTO ½ -INCH PIECES.

5.    WHEN THE BACON IS DONE, SPOON IT OUT OF THE POT AND SET IT ASIDE. SAUTE THE ONION PIECES IN THE LEFTOVER BACON FAT ON LOW HEAT UNTIL THE ONIONS ARE TRANSLUCENT AND SOFTENED.

6.    IN A SEPARATE SAUCE PAN, HEAT THE CHICKEN STOCK MIXED WITH A QUART OF WATER UNTIL JUST BEFORE BOILING.

7.    POUR MIXTURE INTO THE SOUP POT AND ADD THE POTATOES. SIMMER THE POTATOES UNTIL SLIGHTLY SOFTENED.

8.    CUT THE CORN FROM THE COBS AND SET ASIDE.

9.    CHOP UP 8-10 SLICES OF PICKLED JALAPENOS AND SET ASIDE.

10. ONCE THE POTATOES HAVE COOKED AL DENTE, ADD THE QUART OF HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM, THE CORN, THE JALAPENOS, OREGENO, SALT AND PAPPER. STIR AND THEN SIMMER ON LOW HEAT FOR 20 MINUTES. LET THE SOUP COOL BEFORE SERVING.

 

NOTES

 

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND USING NUESKE’S BACON IF YOU CAN FIND IT. IF YOU CAN’T, ANY BACON WILL HAVE TO DO. TRUST ME ON THIS, NUESKE’S IS THE BEST!

 

TRY NOT TO OVERCOOK THE POTATOES OR THE SOUP WILL GET MUSHY.

 

THE JALAPENOS ADD A BIT OF HEAT TO THE FLAVOR OF THE SOUP. YOU CAN USE FEWER OR NONE AT ALL IF YOU DON’T CARE FOR SPICY FOOD.

 

ENJOY!

 

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3 comentarios


What a touching story about an exceptional Man! And…. A beautiful Legacy for all his grandchildren! He had so many talents and interests! His story is an inspiration to us all! We all better get busy at the business of living well! Thanks for sharing a little bit about Lloyd, and also thank you for the recipe!! Can’t wait to try it!! 😁

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Lovely tribute to Lloyd, who was indeed a special man! I will make the soup, minus the jalapeños!

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What a bonus! Both a wonderful trip down memory lane of a wonderful man in my life and a recipe straight from his heart.


Thanks, Dan, for being the kind of guy who writes good words about people. There aren't enough good words about people being said these days and lots of people could use some good words. Your writing good words is time well spent.

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