The first week of school was incredibly intense and that's putting things mildly.
Right out of the gate we had staff and students sick and absent with Covid. On day 2 of school we had SIX staff members out sick with Covid and on quarantine. We didn't have enough substitutes to cover the absences so I volunteered to go down to Kindergarten.
In case you're wondering, the first few weeks of Kindergarten in a normal year are super tough. They are so little and there is SO MUCH to learn before they can even start learning!
The first few weeks of Kindergarten during a pandemic...unimaginable! Imagine kids who have essentially spent extremely formative years largely at home. Some of these kids have parents who tried and those kids are doing ok. A lot of the kids have parents who were maybe struggling themselves. Either way, there has been no preschool. No real going out in public and learning how to behave. These kids have spent so much time inside, more than likely on electronics of some kind.
I'm not sure I have ever worked as hard as I did last week. It was all we could do to keep everyone safe, accounted for, and to the right place at the right time. It was absolutely exhausting and then at the same time...it became extremely clear to me that there is really no way we will be able to be in school all year. The virus is just too contagious and we just don't have enough staff and substitutes to keep it all running. The very thought of not being able to be in school again is so heartbreaking. I can't even go there right now.
I promised myself I would do one thing for myself this week and make a trip to the farmer's market on Saturday morning. I'm so glad I dragged myself out of bed and went down there. I got some flowers, my favorite pickles, some fresh peaches, and some wonderful Peaches and Cream corn on the cob.
Bittman starts his corn chowder off by making a quick corn stock with the corn cobs. I have made corn cob stock once before and I really love it. It really adds that extra kick of corn flavor! Bittman's recipe was really basic and you can certainly keep things that way, but I wanted to use up some potatoes, jalapeno, tomatoes, scallions, and bell pepper so I went ahead and added all that in.
The end result was delicious! I am really going to look forward to taking my leftover Corn and Potato Chowder for lunch tomorrow. I have a feeling I'm going to need some soothing.
Corn & Potato Chowder
Adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
by Mark Bittman
Kernels from 6 ears fresh corn, cobs reserved
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter or oil
1/2 cup chopped scallion
2 roma tomatoes, chopped*
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped*
1 bell pepper, chopped*
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 or 2 potatoes, chopped 1/2" dice*
1 quart milk or half and half
Optional: Bacon, chips, herbs, cheese for garnish
Put the corn cobs and 2 cups water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so the water bubbles gently, cover, and cook, checking occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Leave the cobs in the pot until you're ready to make the soup, then remove them and save the broth (I only got about 1 cup of broth from this process, you may wish to add more water and get more broth).
Put the butter or oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the bugter is melted or the oil is hot, add the scallion, sugar, tomato, and peppers and cook until soft and tender. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to turn golden and the flour no longer smells raw, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the milk and the reserved broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir or whisk constantly until the flour is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the corn kernels and potatoes, if using, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn and potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, garnish and serve.