Polar Vortex Superhero

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

“People are doing some wacky, cool stuff in this frigid weather,” the radio announcer said as I drove the kids to school.

One lady boiled water, opened her back door, and tossed that stuff out, straight into the sky.

It turned into a cloud.

Which drifted back to her living room when a gust of wind took it over.

She had done this while her kids, who were, for weather purposes, home from school,  sat on the couch watching reruns of Phineas and Ferb, or something along those lines,  when that cloud drifted in over their heads.   They stopped, dropped their jaws and were so mesmerized that the geometric, candy-colored cartoon characters could not get their attention back.


Seems negative zero record-breaking temperatures brings out creative genius.


That mom is a superhero now.  Those kids are telling their friends who are telling their friends.  Stuff goes viral. Even ended up in a radio show in South Florida, where our chill was only in the fifties.


Another lady cracked an egg on her back porch floor and waited.

Ten minutes.

Ten minutes!

The thing froze solid.  Okay, she admits, it was a teensy bit squishy in the middle, but, solid everywhere else.  She invited her kids to check it out.


Stop playing Minecraft!

You’re too young to binge on Netflix!

Xbox One comes with a pause button, doesn’t it?!


You know she shouts this stuff often.

You know it goes unnoticed usually.


But the words egg and frozen made an alluring match and the children arose from their technological hypnosis to see what Mom had done.

They ran outside, even, laughed, amazed, and, then, wondrously, began playing Frisbee with the thing!


Can you imagine tossing a frozen egg amongst yourselves?

Back and forth.

Back and forth.

What do you talk about?  How cool is Mom?!

Another superhero born!


The radio commentator left the best for last.

“Then there’s a dad, “ he began.


They’ve always gotta top everyone, you know?

This one stole the show with a banana.

A banana, right?  So simple!

Usually bananas are just sitting there in the fruit bowl, pretty as a picture- first they’re bright yellow and then you forget them in the day’s rush and before you know it, there are some spots on them, and in what feels like a blink of an eye, the whole damn thing is black as coal and you throw it away.  Time just gets away from you like that.

A Mom will look at these bananas and want to plan ahead.

Day 1:  Gotta use it in kiddos cereal.

Day 4:  Hmmm, banana pancakes would be a treat.

Day 8:  Perfect for banana bread!

Day 9:  Ick!  Fruit flies!  Trash!  Now!


But a dad?

A dad will grab that banana like his Grandpop did in the great blizzard of ’78, the one that dumped 31” of snow on New York, and toss it up to the heavens, promising his children, who are already watching, (he’s smart, you see, he’s gathered his audience and prepped them for his show) that when it comes back down, it will be frozen solid, yes it will.

And that thing will fly back down, a boomerang rejected by Zeus, and, yes!  It will be solid!  It won’t even matter if it is canary yellow or spotted like the Andy Warhol album cover of The Velvet Underground or that limp, forgotten fruit the shade of charcoal (that Mother would have most certainly thrown out.) That banana will land in Dad’s hands and it will be frozen solid!

“Ooooh, Ahhh,” children in many layers of clothing will chime.

Just this one action has made them life-long fans of this man.

And then, you know what Dad does with this?

Dad does what Grandpop did years ago!

He uses the thing as a hammer!  An actual hammer!

Thirty years have passed and with it Smartphones and tablets and fancy game devices have flooded children’s attention and yet, I promise you, these children will opt to watch Dad in sub-zero weather hammer a nail into a piece of wood using nothing but a frozen banana.

They’ll want try too.

“Give me!  Let me!  I wanna do it!  Me!”  They’ll shout over the hum of their electric gadgets impatiently set on pause.

“Whaddaya think about that?”  The radio commentator shouts gleefully, snapping me out of Dad’s backyard and back into my car.

I think, what he thinks: Dad is the coolest polar vortex superhero!

Of course, if there is a Mom around, at this point she may be a bit concerned.

You don’t want the young ones out there too long.

Not even for a frozen banana show.

“Time to come in,”  she may mumble weakly.

Should she, really?

They are all out there having a grand time!

Best stir the soup a bit instead.

They’ll be in soon enough.

And they’ll be freezing and hungry.

Moms plan ahead, remember.

So while they were out there, Mom finished up the soup.  A quick soup.  A tasty, nourishing mix of corn, golden potatoes, cream, celery and onions loaded with shrimp and red peppers.

She’ll serve this creamy elixir in her elegant bowls, the deep ivory porcelain ones with the lion heads,  alongside a loaf of crusty bread.

For Dad and for herself, she may sprinkle some paprika.  Make it fancy like that.

She knows they will come through that door any minute now.


The radio commentator has moved on to the traffic report.  I should really listen, but, I don’t.  I’m stuck on this family, this Mom and this Dad.


All the children have hammered with the banana and the excitement has been replaced by aching fingertips, drippy noses, and, ultimately, a need for Mom, because even they know, mothers always plan, so Mom must have a plan for what’s next.


They traipse in the house, hungry, cold and elated, leaving puddles of melted snow in their wake.

The soup is served.

Steaming bowls of goodness invite them to the table.

They plop down and dig in, recounting their adventure between slurps.

“Dad did the coolest thing ever,” they say, reliving what will become The Frozen Banana Story.

Mom looks over at Dad.

His nose is red, lips are chapped, and he’s left the biggest puddle of them all.  Maybe he hasn’t even bothered to properly hang his jacket, the thing has fallen onto the wet, dirty floor.  He slurps his soup loudly.

She’ll overlook all of that, though, and even stare dreamily at him.

Like the radio commentator first pointed out: people are doing some wacky, cool stuff in this frigid weather.

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • ¼ celery, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ carrot, minced
  • 1 ½ cups potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • ¾ cup corn kernels (if you can find fresh, cut off the cob, better!)
  • ½ cup red pepper, minced
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cup fish stock
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • ½ pound shrimp, peeled and sliced in half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika (a sprinkle to make it fancy!)


  1. In a soup pot, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery and carrots until golden, stirring often, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and stir 2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes, corn and red pepper and stir another 2 minutes.
  4. Add milk, raise to high heat and bring to a boil. Add broth.
  5. Reduce heat to medium again, stirring.
  6. Allow soup to simmer 10 minutes.
  7. Add shrimp and stir until they are cooked through, 5 minutes.
  8. Add cornstarch, stirring.
  9. Soup will thicken at this point.
  10. Lower heat and add salt and pepper.
  11. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with paprika, if desired.
  12. Serves 4

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Polar Vortex Superhero

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One Response to “Polar Vortex Superhero”

  1. Peggy says:

    Here in Minnesota, we don’t need polar vortexes to experience subzero temperatures. Those happen every year. The boiling water and frozen banana tricks have been done to death but never fail to impress, especially when the audience consists of children, those cute little ignoramuses (ignorami?). As for frozen eggs, what’s really bad is when you forget to bring in a carton of eggs from the car after grocery shopping, and you later find all 12 eggs ruined, frozen and burst from their shells. That’s no fun at all. Anyway, thanks for the soup recipe!! I can’t wait to try it!

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