Tag Archives: Smithsonian Museum of American History

What’s For Dinner Wednesday: Fish Chowder

30 Jan
I absolutely loved this fish chowder last week!

I absolutely loved this fish chowder last week!

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this or not, but a few years back I developed an allergy to shellfish. Not all shellfish, but a lot of my faves are no longer on my menu.

To live in New England, a summer oasis of ocean and seafood, it’s terribly sad for me to have this allergy. I have always loved all seafood. Luckily there’s only a handful I can’t eat, and there are still some things I can eat.

Clam cakes and chowder after the beach were one thing that I’d been missing in particular, so my heart did a little leap this summer when I was walking through Washington DC on my way to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, with the winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge from Virginia, Madeleine Steppel and her mom, Debra, while Caroline and I were there as the Rhode Island winners.

Madeleine's recipe was so easy to follow. Caroline made most of it by herself!

Madeleine’s recipe was so easy to follow. Caroline made most of it by herself!

The most common question we all asked each other on that first day of our trip was, “Where are you from and what was your recipe?”

When I asked that question to Madeleine and Deb, I was thrilled by their answer: Fish Chowder. Madeleine had chosen to make a chowder that I could actually eat! When I asked Debra what was in their chowder, she said that any white fish would do. I was so excited!

Unfortunately, it took me five months before I had a chance to try out this recipe, just last week. It was one that Caroline had been asking for also, and she was so excited when I said I had everything for it.

The recipe was super-easy and didn’t take long at all to make. We substituted a couple of items to suit our tastes and our diet, but overall we followed her recipe almost to a T.

And let me tell you….I was in chowder heaven. It has been several years since I’ve been able to have chowder. I savored every.single.bite.

I went to school to work the school book fair after dinner. Then I came back and had a second bowl. That second bowl was all I could think about when I was at the book fair.

I already have plans to bring this chowder with me this summer to our annual Labor Day Weekend cookout, the one that’s almost entirely seafood, so that I too, can partake in the summer yumminess that I’ve been missing terribly.

One of the best things about this recipe was that it was easy enough that Caroline could handle almost the entire thing by herself. I chopped the onions (we both cried), and she did just about all the rest.

Below are the ingredients and directions, along with any notes stating the changes I made for us. I would definitely make this again.


And all summer long.

And on Labor Day weekend for our cookout.

And any time in between.

Fish Chowder

By Madeleine Steppel, age 9


Madeleine’s page in the recipe book states, “‘Senator Mark Warner’s recipe for ‘creamless’ Asparagus Soup, which I found in the Celebrate Virginia Cookbook, inspired me to create a chowder recipe,” said Madeleine, who used milk in this recipe because it is the State Beverage of Virginia. She would serve this with a fruity salad of spring greens, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, dried cranberries, and a citrus vinaigrette, with whole-grain bread.”

Makes 4-6 servings

Caroline loved being able to make the majority of this herself.

Caroline loved being able to make the majority of this herself.


3 white potatoes (about 12 ounces total) peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes.

1 pound bag of frozen peas and carrots, thawed (We skip these.)

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small onion finely chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (we use gluten free Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 flour as of 2015)

4 cups low fat milk (we used skim)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds skinless white fish fillet, such as bass, tilapia, or flounder cut into 2″ pieces (I used 2 one pound bags of frozen flounder from Aldi’s.)

Salt and white pepper

(I also sometimes add in 1/2 tsp dried dill weed for color and flavor, which is what my dad always does when he makes his chowder every summer.)

There's nothing like a pot of hot chowder on the stove!

There’s nothing like a pot of hot chowder on the stove!


1. Place potatoes in large glass microwave safe bowl. Add enough cool water to just cover the potatoes, and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Add the peas and carrots and microwave on high until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the vegetables and set aside (or boil the vegetables until soft, about 8 minutes).

2. In a large saucepan over moderate heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and the garlic, and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat to moderately low, add the flour, and whisk for 2 minutes to make a roux. Gradually whisk in one cup of milk and stir until hot and creamy, making sure to whisk out any lumps. Gradually whisk in the remaining three cups of milk and cook, whisking, until steaming hot, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the fish and the cooked vegetables, and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the fish is cooked through and flaky. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Washington DC Trip Part III: Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian

24 Aug

On August 15, 2012 Julia Child would have been 100 years old.

I have spent all week long recapping for you our trip to Washington DC. I started at the peak, which was our visit to the White House for the 2012 Kids’ State Dinner, and have worked my way backwards to the beginning. That leaves me at our first day, which was Sunday, which was our travel day, but still packed with fun activities. For me, the highlight of that day was visiting the Smithsonian Museum of American History where we were able to tour the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit along with the Star Spangled Banner exhibit and the exhibit of the First Ladies’ Gowns. Our primary reason for being there though, was the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit.

I don’t know how many of you saw the movie Julie and Julia, which came out in 2009, but I saw it a year or so ago, before I started “The Whole Bag of Chips,” and I absolutely loved it. I loved all of the cooking and recipes, all of the history of Julia and her husband, and I loved the blog that Julie started. I found the whole thing to be very inspiring.

Therefore, when I got our trip itinerary and found out that we’d be visiting the exhibit at the Smithsonian, I was so excited. Other than the White House event, this was what I was looking forward to the most. I loved the scene in the movie where Julie got to go see the exhibit herself, and I was so thrilled to know that I’d be seeing the exhibit too.

I had goosebumps as I looked at the first display in the exhibit.

I also wonder how many of you have seen the movie “A League of Their Own,” about the WWII women’s baseball teams, but it’s one of my all-time favorite movies and there is a scene at the end of it that I just love, where the former players are visiting a museum display about their teams, for the first time. In the scene, the character played by Geena Davis, along with some of her former teammates, comes around the corner and sees the exhibit for the first time. I get goosebumps every time I watch the movie and get to this scene, I don’t know why.

Our arrival at the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit gave me that exact same feeling. As the group of us contest winners came around the corner and saw the exhibit for the first time, I was covered in goosebumps. I am covered in them now as I type this.

Look Mom, I’m almost as tall as she is!

It was not only because it was something I’d looked forward to seeing for so long and something I had a passion for, but it was our first official act as the group of us, our first official doing anything together and I felt so honored, so special and so part of something huge, even though this wasn’t even the biggest part of our two days. As we moved around the corner into the exhibit I felt a rush of emotion.

The exhibit was fabulous, as were all the ones we saw that day. We were at the museum at about 3pm and we’d been up since 3:30 am when we’d gotten up for our 6am flight that day. We were exhausted. Everyone was, and I felt like I could fall over, I was so tired. We both did. However, I would not have traded the chance to visit the exhibit for a nap. (At least now I can say that. If you’d asked me right then, I might’ve traded it for a nap.) I know that my photos do not do it justice, but I hope that it at least gives you a glimpse into what was a wonderful opportunity.