Right after graduating Van Buren High School in 1983, I moved to Delta, Utah, and embarked on a journey that was an incredible part of my life, one I will never forget.
It was the beginning of many "firsts" in my life.
This was my first love, my first traveling experience, my first time away from home and my very first job.
I worked as a sandwich maker at a place called Delta Valley Farms, a cheese factory/restaurant.
My job was to microwave luncheon meats and place them on the type of bread a customer wanted before placing them in a basket and passing it to someone else to put the condiments and a bag of potato chips on the plate before handing it out the window to the cashier.
Sounds boring, but I loved it.
I initially worked in the "day" restaurant, which was the time it was a sandwich shop, but soon found myself asked to work at night. That was when it changed over to a sit down restaurant with a full menu.
Kathy, a wonderful jovial woman, taught me how to make many of the recipes available on the menu.
One was for Clam Chowder, which I had never eaten and hadn't planned on ever trying in this lifetime. It just didn't sound appealing to me -- a type of fish and milk soup -- I don't think so!
But, after making it, I soon found out I liked it.
I initially learned to make enough to feed about 50 customers, but over the years I developed a recipe proportioned to feed a family. I also learned a few tricks about having little ones help make the recipe.
Before cooking, I recommend you, and the kids if they can wield a knife, take the time to cut the vegetables.
Chop one large red onion, three stalks of celery, two green onions and one small carrot into small pieces. Dice six large cooked potatoes into medium sized pieces.
Cook six slices of bacon until crisp in a Dutch oven or large, cast iron skillet, then remove to drain on a paper towel.
Add the onion, celery, green onions and the carrot to the bacon drippings and cook until tender. Add three tablespoons of flour, one teaspoon each of salt and white pepper to the mixture, and then gently add eight ounces of clam juice (one bottle) and two cups of half-and-half and one cup of whole milk.
Whisk constantly to ensure you don't get lumps in the liquid until completely mixed in, add potatoes and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the minced clams with their liquid and cover with lid for another five minutes on the lowest heat your stove allows.
When serving, crumble the bacon on top of the soup.