Dear Sun Spots: I am looking for a recipe for a seafood and clam chowder base that is thick and creamy. The Lost Gull in Oxford has a great chowder and I would like to make a similar one. If any one has a recipe for either chowder or just a thick, creamy base, I’d appreciate having a copy of it. Thanks. – Diane, Norway.

You and your family might enjoy trying out the following recipe for clam chowder with potatoes and dulse by Paul and Jeanne Rankin from Gourmet Ireland and posted online at

Ingredients: 2 lb. 4 oz. fresh live clams, 1 oz. dried dulse (seaweed), 2 tbsp. onion, chopped, 2 tbsp. leek, chopped, 2 tbsp. carrot, chopped, 1 sprig of fresh parsley, 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 14 fl. oz. water, 6 fl. oz. dry white wine, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 7 oz. streaky bacon, rinded and chopped, 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, 8 fl. oz. fish stock, light chicken stock or water, 2 large potatoes, roughly diced, 7 fl. oz. double cream (optional), 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley. Method: To prepare and cook the clams, wash them under cold running water. Finely slice or chop the dulse with a sharp knife and put into a large pan with the other aromatics: the chopped onion, leek, carrot, parsley and thyme. Add the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Add the wine and return to the boil. Add the clams, cover and boil vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes until the clams open. Drain them in a colander, being sure to catch the cooking liquid in a bowl underneath. This will be used in the chowder. Set aside while you pull the clams from their shells. Discard the shells and the sprigs of parsley and thyme. Keep the clams and the aromatics and place them in the reserved broth. To make the chowder, fry the onion and bacon in the butter over a medium heat in a large pan until soft and transparent. Add the stock or water and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the pan and simmer gently until cooked. Remove half this mixture and blend in a blender/food processor or mash. This will give you a thick, creamy soup that will thicken the whole chowder. Combine with the rest of the potatoes, the clams in their juices and cooking broth, and the cream, and bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning, garnish with the chopped parsley and, if desired, a dollop of whipped cream, and serve at once.

Dear Sun Spots: What a wonderful service your column provides to the community. Keep up the good work.

Spring has finally arrived, and we are preparing for our fifth benefit lawn sale to be held Aug. 9 to 17. It will be held on Route 4 in Strong for the entire seven days. This year all funds raised will go to Relay for Life in Franklin County.

Anyone wishing to donate new or lovingly used items, whether a few boxes or a truck load, can please call us to arrange pick up of those items. We are also interested in cleaning up and removing yard sale items and will travel within 50 miles of Strong. So please get calling, time is a-wasting. We’ll take furniture, household items, not much clothing. We are now collecting and would be happy to relieve you of any of the above items, all for a good cause. Please call Mary White 684-2166, Patrick Kenney at 684-5569 or Colleen Bate at 652-2154. – Mary White, Strong.

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