National Clam Chowder Day – Feb. 25th

by Rob Polansky

Clam Chowder

AP Photo

BRIDGEPORT, CT (WFSB) – Wednesday is National Clam Chowder Day.

The day celebrates the popular soup, which is often made from claims, onion and potato.

Recipes, however, vary from country to country.

A recent “Chowdafest” festival in Bridgeport, which organizers said determines New England’s best chowder, claimed Donovan’s in South Norwalk has the best. In fact, the eatery won top honors multiple years in a row.

The competition, typically held on October, had O’Neill’s and Spark’s Sports Grill, also both in Norwalk, rounding out the top three.

For more on Chowdafest, visit its website here.

Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Presidential Favorite – New England Clam Chowder

John F. Kennedy, the 35th United States President, was reportedly not a big eater and had to be reminded about meal times.  But when he did dine, he was true to his New England roots.

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy sits aboard the United States Coast Guard boat Manitou in Narragansett Bay, Newport, R.I., August 26, 1962. ROBERT KNUDSEN/WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHS, JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM

From EatingWell: September/October 2008

Yield:  6 servings, generous 1 cup each


  • 2 tsp.  canola oil
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 medium red potato, diced
  • 1 clam juice, (see Makeover Tip below)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 c. low-fat milk
  • 1/2 c.  heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12-ounce fresh clam strips, (see Shopping Tip below), chopped, or 3 6-ounce cans chopped baby clams, rinsed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced



Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer half of the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add onion, celery, and thyme to the pan; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add potato, clam juice, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Whisk milk, cream, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the pan and return to a simmer, stirring, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add clams and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
To serve, discard bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with some of the reserved bacon and scallions.


Tips & Techniques

Makeover tip: Check sodium carefully when using clam juice because the amount of sodium can vary dramatically between brands. We use Bar Harbor clam juice with only 120 mg sodium per 2-ounce serving.

Shopping tip: Look for fresh clam strips at the seafood counter.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Western concept of time is linear, meaning time proceeds in a straight line from past, to present, and future, while traditional China uses a 12-year-cycle for dating the years. Each Chinese year corresponds to one of 12 different animals with certain personality traits, and the animal signs (or zodiac) repeat every 12 years in the following order:

  1. Rat: charming, hardworking, thrifty, ambitious
  2. Ox: patient, alert, quiet, stubborn
  3. Tiger: sensitive, sympathetic, indecisive, powerful
  4. Rabbit: articulate, talented, kind, financially lucky
  5. Dragon: healthy, energetic, excitable, brave
  6. Snake: intense, passionate, wise, hates to fail
  7. Horse: popular, cheerful, perceptive, independent
  8. Ram: elegant, creative, shy, pessimistic
  9. Monkey: clever, flexible, inventive, sensible
  10. Rooster: busy, eccentric, deep thinker, loner
  11. Dog: loyal, honest, good leader, secret keeper
  12. Pig: chivalrous, determined, studious, problem solver

Legend has it that the 12 animals argued who would be first, so the gods called for a swimming contest.  All 12 animals fathered at a river bank and jumped in, but the rat shrewdly hopped on the ox’s back.  Although the ox reached the opposite shore first, the rat leaped onto land and won the race before the ox climbed out of the water.

Proper Chinese culture frowns upon asking people’s ages directly, but knowing their zodiac sign is a polite way of estimating (within 12 years) how old they are.  Using common sense, one could determine that the new neighbor is 73 years old rather than 61 or 85.

Visit this website for a birth year/animal sign chart… just click HERE.

Italian Herb Salad Dressing Recipe

Italian Herb Salad Dressing
Photo by Taste of Home©

Yield: 10 Servings


  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch pepper

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all ingredients; shake well. Refrigerate. Shake well again before serving over greens.

Nutritional Facts
1 serving (2 tablespoons) equals 150 calories, 16 g fat (2 g saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 127 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, trace protein.

Originally published as Italian Herb Salad Dressing in Taste of Home October/November 1994, p16

Valentine’s Snack Mix


  • 1 1/4 c. pecan halves
  • 1 1/4 c. salted pistachio nuts
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate-covered raisins
  • 1 1/4 c. dried cherries*
  • 1 c. dried strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp. thin slivers of fresh orange peel

*If desired, use a combination of dried berries (cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries)

Directions:   Shell the pistachio nuts.  Preheat the oven to 325°F degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.  In a shallow baking pan, spread out the nuts and put in the oven to keep warm while the glaze is made.

To make the glaze, put sugar in a large, heavy skillet.  Heat over medium-high heat, shaking the skillet several times to heat the sugar evenly (do not stir). Heat until the sugar begins to melt (it will look syrupy).  Stir the melted sugar to keep it from over browning; shake the pan and stir gently to incorporate remaining unmelted sugar as it begins to melt. Reduce heat to medium-low.  Continue to cook until all the sugar is melted and golden. Add the butter to the skillet and stir until the butter is melted and mixture is combined. Remove from heat.

Stir in salt. Add warmed nuts to the skillet and stir to coat. Pour nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.  Cool completely, then break into clusters.

Store nuts in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Before serving, transfer to a bowl and stir in raisins, dried fruit and orange peel.

Yield: 12 1/2c. servings

Per Serving: 245 calories

Anti-Superstition Society Party

from – Jan. 6, 1941, issue

Breaking mirrors. Spilling salt. Walking under ladders. Lighting a third cigarette with one match. The list of arcane superstitions influencing the behavior and peace of mind of human beings around the world is, it seems, almost limitless. And for the superstitious, no day holds as much peril as Friday the 13th. The very thought of, say, a black cat crossing one’s path on such a day is enough to send ordinarily sane men and women into conniptions.

Baked cookies bearing the number 13 being served at an Anti-Superstition Party
Photo by William C. Shrout—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images©

But for a group of Chicago-based businessmen and inveterate debunkers in the middle part of the last century, each Friday the 13th was the perfect opportunity to point out how thoroughly preposterous — and, from an economic point of view, how counterproductive — such fears can be. In December 1941, LIFE magazine photographer William C. Shrout attended a dinner of the venerable Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago, and came away with incontrovertible proof that just because grown men don’t believe in fairy tales doesn’t mean they’re opposed to having a good time.

As LIFE explained to its readers in its Jan. 6, 1941, issue, in which some of the photos in this gallery first appeared:

At 6:13 p.m. on Friday, the 13th of December, 169 audacious and irreverent gentlemen sat down to dine at 13 tables in Room 13 of the Merchants & Manufacturers Club of Chicago. Each table seated 13. Upon each rested an open umbrella, a bottle of bourbon and 13 copies of a poem called The Harlot. The speaker’s table was strewn with horseshoes, old keys, old shoes, mirrors and cardboard black cats. Before it reposed an open coffin with 13 candles. The occasion was the 13th Anniversary Jinx-Jabbing Jamboree and Dinner of the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago … [which] meets regularly on Friday the 13th. (There have been 13 Friday the 13th’s in the last eight years.) Behind the ribaldry of its recurrent dinners lies the very sound thesis that superstition annually costs this country an inexcusable sum of time and money. People postpone trips because of mirrors and cats. Businessmen defer decisions because of calendrical coincidences.

To combat these persistent bogies, the Society has assembled much counter-evidence. According to mathematical laws of probability, one of 13 guests of different ages at any dinner party may very well die within a year. But the ratio of probability will soar even higher if 14 guests attend. One corpse out of 18 is a 50-to-50 bet.

A black cat sits on a man's shoulder at an Anti-Superstition Party

“Panther, a three-year-old black cat, is delivered to General Lorenzen, Keeper of Black Cats, by its mistress, Mrs. Olive Morrison. The Society advertised in the paper for a ‘large, docile black cat’ to preside at meeting, got 159 offers.” — Photo by William C. Shrout—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone. Go spill some salt on a black cat beneath a ladder, or something.

Avocado Dressing

Yield: 2 cups or 16 Servings

Avocado Dressing
Photo by Taste of Home©


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2c. fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

In a blender, combine all ingredients; cover and process until blended. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid or small bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Nutritional Facts
2 tablespoons equals 30 calories, 2 g fat (trace saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 96 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein. Diabetic Exchange: 1/2 fat.

Originally published as Avocado Salad Dressing in Simple & Delicious May/June 2007, p52


Happy Groundhog’s Day!

It’s no surprise Punxsutawney Phil was a bit grumpy today, Feb. 2, 2015 on Groundhog’s Day.  He could’ve slept in if these humans used their common sense and realized that yes… winter is here to stay for a few more weeks.