After living in the Bay Area for 30 years, we're moving this month. We still need to sell the house – that’ll happen in the spring – but we officially hit the road, with cars packed to the roof, for Lake Tahoe’s snow country this week. It's only 3 1/2 hours away (if all goes well with traffic, which rarely happens unless it's 2 AM), but we’re shaking up our lives in a big way.
There's a lot to love in Tahoe. My husband and I both enjoy the snow, and Rika (our mini-labradoodle) is nothing short of ecstatic when she spies billowy snow from her top-of-the-sofa perch. If she isn’t nose deep in it, she's whining a full-length song at the front door, yodeling with all her heart to go out for a wild romp. Hiking, kayaking, and the beaches call to us in summer, although the doodle is not yet a fan of being in water above her fluffy knees, and our kids and grandkids visit year-round.
Maybe life will slow down a bit for me in the mountains, but seriously, that's doubtful. It’s far more likely I’ll continue to load up my tray like a starving teenager. I keep reminding my husband — I'm changing my address honey, not my personality.
All that said, there’s something both exciting and unsettling about turning one’s life upside down. Our new home will be in an inclusive, friendly town where we’ve already met a number of people and formed some new friendships. But even with this, there’s still a strong feeling of starting over in creating new connections, and finding like-minded groups. There’s burgeoning hope I’ll develop new, enriching friendships, and fear that I won’t. It’s takes energy to walk into a room of strangers and strike up casual conversations, and it takes courage to carve out a new life path. But even though a voice whispers over my shoulder: “I hope this is the right thing to do”, my heart says “Let’s do this thing”.
So as we turn the page to greet a new month, a new year, and a new life with hugely different weather patterns (and new wardrobe opportunities, even for our doodle), we wish everyone much happiness, health, and love in the year to come. I look forward to sharing many new recipes with you, but I warn you there may be more winter comfort food than I’ve done in the past, in deference to my new environs. In fact, here’s a peek at what we’ll be eating this New Year’s as we tuck ourselves into the sofa by the fire with a good book, and suffer through Rika’s whines by the front door.
Lobster and Crab Chowder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- ½ cup finely diced celery
- ¼ cup finely diced poblano pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup white wine
- 16 ounces clam juice
- 2/3 cup frozen corn
- 2 cups peeled and diced russet potatoes
- 1 can 14.5 ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup your favorite pasta sauce plain or with Italian herbs
- 3 lobster tails 9 ounces total with the shells
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or make your own
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- zest of 1 navel orange
- 1 cup crabmeat
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- Coarsely chopped parsley
- Heat up the olive oil in a heavy bottomed large pot or Le Creuset (my personal favorite) over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, pepper, and garlic, and sauté until softened, about 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetable chunks.
- Stir in the butter until it melts, and add the flour. Toss the vegetables in the flour, and cook for 5 minutes to cook the flour. Whisk in the wine and cook for a few minutes until it begins to thicken a bit.
- Add the clam juice, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and pasta sauce. Simmer until the potatoes are barely cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the lobster tails (in the shell), bay leaf, thyme, seasonings, orange zest, and crabmeat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the lobster is cooked. Remove the lobster tails, cut out the meat, coarsely chop, and return to the chowder.
- Stir in the whipping cream and brandy and bring to just below a simmer.
- Ladle into chowder bowls, and serve immediately with a little parsley on top.