[Haven] The Clam Chowder Methodology

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Elisabeth Black
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[Haven] The Clam Chowder Methodology

Arc 721, 19 Ashan

Elisabeth was on a mission.

The clams that she had discovered a few trials before were a great start to finding renewable resources available to the settlement. Balthazar was working on ideas about clam farms and such – ways to take advantage of their good fortune.

While he worked on that, the young mage wanted to do something else nice for him and the guards. Arguably, she would like to have surprised the entire settlement but for the time being, due to available resources and lack of skill on her part, Elisabeth needed to start small.

The idea came from a recipe that Rilith had taught her growing up. There hadn’t been much bonding between the two as time passed but it was a good memory and something that was oddly perfect for what she wanted to do. The recipe itself, Rilith had called Clam Chowder. The instructions and ingredients had been safely written into her notebook for arcs but since leaving Viden, she hadn’t had the chance to prepare the dish. Her cooking skills were basic, but it was something they had prepared together many times so she was relatively sure she could handle it.

The one challenge she faced was cooking the dish without the convenience of a stove. That was a luxury they didn’t yet have in Haven. Cooking over campfires was normal but not something the young woman was familiar with. Not familiar with but not impossible. The concepts were similar – heat exchange and such. Chowder, or soup…because that was really what it was, was mostly putting ingredients together and letting them cook and that was something that translated well to cooking over a campfire.

Standing next to one such campfire near the tent she and Balthazar shared, Elisabeth had gathered all the ingredients she needed to make one batch of clam chowder for him and the guards. Something of a ‘thank you’ for all their hard work. Laughing softly, she considered that it might not be much of a ‘thank you’ if it turned out badly.

A small wooden, rectangular table stood off to the side of the campfire. The table was crudely made but effective, allowing her a surface to prepare all the ingredients. It was close enough to only be a few steps away from the fire, but far enough away that she didn’t have to worry about setting the table on fire. That would have been very bad.

First, Elisabeth sat the pot in a corner of the fire, over some red-hot coals. Setting it in the fire would have defeated the purpose so for cooking, it was always best to use the indirect heat of the corner or things would burn. At least that was what she had been told by a few other settlers when she asked…and it made sense to her.

Taking the lid off the top of the pot, the young woman set it to the side, letting the pot heat up while she tended to the ingredients. Swiftly making her way over to the table again, she grabbed the salt pork bits that she had already cut up previously. Checking her notes quickly, written within her notebook, she remembered that the salt pork served two purposes – seasoning/flavor and as a substance to cook the diced vegetables in. Once the salt pork rendered down, it turned into something of a flavorful oil that imparted flavor. Taking them over to the pot, she gently tossed them in and used the wooden spoon to separate them out a bit. The heat was still low enough that it would take a bit for it to cook down.

Going back to the table, she began to deal with the vegetables. Her notes said carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes. Grabbing the carrots, she took her knife and slowly chopped a few of them up into something her notes called ‘small dice’. Rilith had always just told her to ‘chop’ so Elisabeth did as she remembered, cutting the carrot lengthwise into flat strips, turning it, cutting it again and then moving the knife down the vegetable, so the pieces were in little squares. Scooting those to the side with the knife, she repeated the procedure with the celery. Onion was a different beast entirely, requiring the removal of the outer skin first. Immediately, she noted her eyes watering, making cutting just a bit more challenging.

Cutting one end off, like her notes said, creating a flat surface, Elisabeth cut the onion crossways, turned it, cut again, and then across the horizontal a few times, letting the onion pieces fall away. Rilith had been very good at cutting onions but it had always seemed to be a daunting process to Elisabeth.

Checking on the salt pork, she found it to be rendered down quite nicely. She only had the potatoes left to chop up and things would be ready to get started. Quickly, she peeled the potatoes and chopped them up in larger pieces than the other things.

The salt pork was nice and browned, and a thin layer of fat had been rendered into the bottom of the pan. Grabbing the bowl of vegetables, minus the potatoes, Elisabeth walked them over to the pan and slowly tossed them in. Giving the vegetables a good stir, she let them cook in the oil for a few bits while cleaning up a few other things and grabbing the chopped-up clam pieces, flour, and cream that would finish off the recipe. The flour, she had written in her notes, would help thicken the chowder.

Poking her head over the pot, she stirred the vegetables again, noting a bit of browning happening. She knew that it was time to add everything else. Putting the potatoes in the bowl, she carried them over and plopped them in, then the clam pieces, stirring again. Her notes stated tossing a bit of flour into the pot would help thicken the chowder as it cooked so Elisabeth did that, about five heavy pinches – as Rilith would say – giving everything another good stir.

Slowly, she added the cream to the pot until it barely covered all the other ingredients. A few heavy pinches of salt and pepper completed things. The young woman checked her notes for anything she might have missed. At the end of the recipe, there was one small mention of making sure to keep the heat lower to keep the cream from burning, while allowing everything else to cook. Elisabeth couldn’t control the temperature as well as she would have liked to, but she could monitor the chowder and stir it to keep the heat moving through it.

Grabbing a towel, Elisabeth moved the pot over, away from the more direct heart to something that would allow more gentle cooking. Placing the lid on the pot, the young mage cleaned up the mess she had made and simply waited for her creation to come to life. Sitting on the stone next to the fire, Elisa decided to play with Defiance a bit while she waited.

A lifetime ago, or so it seemed, Elisabeth had sat at a fire, not unlike the one in front of her. That fire had been in Rharne and her companion, Varlum. He had played with the flames of the fire, making them dance before her and showing her the wonders of Defiance. Reaching out her hand, she gently called to the flame, crimson ribbons dancing through her gaze, greeting the flames softly as they whispered to her. It was always a special feeling when she channeled fire for when she heard and felt it coursing through, it was Balthazar. Fire, as she had recently learned, was the element she would be most intricately connected with. Balthazar had called it a kin element, and there was really no surprise when she figured out that it would be that element, which was also Balthazar’s. So much of their magic aligned with one another that Elisabeth would have been surprised had it not been fire.

She sat there, gently directing the flames to dance for her, just as they had done for Varlum so long ago. They played along the edges of the pit, weaving to and fro as she wished. Smiling softly, she released the flames and checked on the chowder, Opening the lid, she noted the familiar smell from her childhood, taking that as a good sign. Stirring the contents of the pot, she scrapped the bottom, noting no charring – another good sign as fires were unpredictable, even though she had done her best to control the temperature. As well, the mixture had thickened slightly, giving it body.

Happy with the progress, she grabbed a smaller spoon and decided to taste test. It was…not bad. Needed a little more salt and pepper. Once that was done, she stirred again, noting that the potatoes and carrots needed a little while longer before they would be cooked through, which was fine. Balthazar and the others would be along after a bit and they could all eat then.

Walking over to the table, Elisabeth drew over one additional item that she had collected – a loaf of bread. Cutting it into neat slices, she set those aside and decides to wait for the others by the fire while she watched over the chowder.

Settling against the log this time, the young mage smiled, eyes to the sea and happy that she had been able to accomplish something that showed Balthazar and the others how much she appreciated them.

word count: 1603
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Re: [Haven] The Clam Chowder Methodology


Player Name: Elisabeth

Points awarded: 10
Magic xp: none


Cooking: Salt pork renders down into a flavorful substance to cook things in.
Cooking: Cutting onions makes one cry
Cooking: Flour helps thicken liquids
Cooking: Cream will burn if cooked over too high a heat
Cooking: Stir often to keep from burning
Fieldcraft : Campfire temperatures are difficult to control

Renown: 5 for making some soup for the guards. Balthazar wouldn't count for renown. People don't tend to get renown for cooking for their boyfriend :P
Loot: 1 batch of basic quality clam chowder.
Injuries/Overstepping: n/a
Wealth Points: n/a
Consequences: N/a

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriately to PC's level

I love clam chowder, so I was happy to see this in the queue for review when I did. The ingredients sounded very nice and appropriate to what I'd find in clam chowder. Except no cream, but I suppose the flower and fats and oils made up for that. I like my clam chowder creamy, though.

All in all was a nice and delicious contribution to the forum. I enjoyed it!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this review, feel free to PM. Enjoy your rewards!
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