Monday, March 16, 2009

Tennessee Fish Chowder

Tennessee Fish Chowder

Dorcas Annette Walker

I love fish, but I’d be the first to confess that I am not a fisherman. When our daughter was small my husband finally convinced me to go fishing with him. While I do enjoy working outside in my flowerbeds, I was not thrilled to wade through knee-high weeds in order to get to the creek. Sweaty and out of breath- I was carrying my daughter, water, and snacks while my husband carried the fishing equipment- we arrived at the chosen spot. As my husband got the fishing poles ready, I admired the trees along the gurgling creek, heard birds singing, and relaxed. Fishing wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

Then my husband insisted that to be a real fisherman I needed to bait my own hook. There was no way I was going to touch one of those slimy crawling creatures! After a heated debate I finally convinced my husband I had no desire to be a real fisherman, he could claim the title, and I would be happy to settle for second rate. I then was initiated into the art of casting. With a swift flip of his wrist and a zing, Dana’s hook sank perfectly into the middle of the creek. Mine unfortunately caught in a tree. I confess I kept an eye on the wiggly bait to make sure that it didn’t come near my head rather than on the creek. I held my husband’s rod and kept an eye on my daughter while Dana climbed the tree to rescue my line. Our first fishing trip was short. My poor husband was kept busy climbing trees to rescue my line instead of fishing. I was more than ready to go home myself bored with swatting at misquotes.

The second fishing trip my husband chose a large lake with no nearby trees. This time I became professional at casting as the fish ate my bait. Poor Dana couldn’t do any fishing for constantly re-baiting my hook. I finally caught a fish and held the pole out as far away from me as possible over the water having no desire to let the wriggling fish near me while Dana hollered in my ear for me to reel it in. I surrendered the pole to my husband with relief figuring I was now a bon-a-fide fisherman. All the excitement drew the other fishermen as it was the first catch of the evening and good sized one. After minutely inspecting my catch, they all shook their heads in disbelief when I declared I was done fishing. I was thrilled to finally sit down and not have to keep one eye on my line and another on my active toddler. Ironically my fish was the only catch of the evening. Even when a shower came up and I huddled under a blanket with my daughter to stay dry all the guys kept fishing in the pouring rain. I determined then and there it was the last fishing trip I was going on.

My Tennessee Fish Chowder is a hearty soup ideal for the blustery days of March. The Tennessee Fish Chowder takes about an hour to prepare and this recipe serves eight to twelve.

Tennessee Fish Chowder
In a large kettle place:
1 lb of frozen or fresh fish
1 tb salt
1 large onion minced
3 medium potatoes peeled and diced
Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Mash the potatoes and fish into small pieces- unless you prefer a chunky-type soup.

2 (12 oz) cans of evaporated milk
1 c instant potato flakes
1 stick of margarine
Sprinkle and stir in:
Black pepper
1tb dried parsley flakes
1 tb crushed dried celery leaves
Bring chowder to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes stirring every little bit. Serve hot with cornbread or hush puppies. You may garnish the soup with fresh parsley or croutons!

Weekly tip: You can make homemade croutons using leftover hamburger, hot dog buns, or old bread by buttering then sprinkling garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Cut into inch cubes and toast until lightly browned!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Mountain Cookin page and blog at:

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