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iowa corn chowder

I could get used to the life of a cow. Eat. Sleep. Chat with the gals next door. Eat some more. 

Who're we kidding? That was basically my life through college. 

Speaking of eating (see what I did there?), feed is one of the most foundational aspects of running a dairy.

{Chris takes over here.} It takes quality feed to create quality milk. Milking cows, for example, will eat over 100 pounds of food a day. 

On our dairy, feed is comprised of three classes: hays, silages and grains. In our system, we combine all of them together into what we call a TMR, a total mix ration. We mix everything that the cows need into one. 

We have a nutritionist who comes every couple months, and he will look at lab analysis of each feed ingredient as well as at manure samples. He'll look at milk samples too along with the condition of the cows--are they too fat? too skinny?--and then he'll formulate different rations for different groups of cows. 

A cow who's producing 12 gallons of milk a day, for instance, has different nutritional needs than a cow who's producing 3 gallons of milk a day. A cow who is 9 months pregnant has different needs than a cow who just calved. 

Let's pretend we have 100 pounds of feed. One of our typical rations may have 5 pounds of alfalfa, 10 pounds of freshly cut rye and oats, 5 pounds of rye silage, 45 pounds of corn silage, 5 pounds of cotton seed, 8 pounds of corn gluten pellets, 5 pounds of dried distillers' grain, 4 pounds of soybean meal, 12 pounds of ground corn and 1 pound of vitamins and minerals. 

Ultimately, if we take good care of the cows, they end up taking good care of us. That's why we make rations and high-quality feed a high priority. 

It's Adriane again. This is the point at which I asked Chris, "Would cows like corn muffins?" and he said, "No," and I said, "Why not?" and he said, "Well, I guess you could use a corn muffin in the ration," and I said, "But would cows like Iowa Corn Chowder?" and he gave me a look like, "For real?" and then I asked, "Do YOU like Iowa Corn Chowder?" and he said, "Um, yes?" while backing away slowly. 

I'm helpful like that. 

So while the cows are busy eating their ration, I'm going to encourage you to eat some dairy goodness of your own. 
The good news is that this is a Dorr family recipe. The bad news is that if you make it, you're basically related to us. I think that's how it works. So proceed with caution. 
The really good news is that it's a beautiful conglomeration of the cow and pig worlds. We've got milk and cheese in the dairy corner, and my personal favorite--bacon--on the ropes. 

What You'll Need
3 cups H20
2 cups cubed potatoes (skin on)
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cans creamed corn (Remind me to tell you about the time I learned that creamed corn came in cans. Pretty sure I was about 25 years old.)

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large pot. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the potatoes start to get poke-able with a fork. 
Poke-able. That's a word, right?

Let that concoction simmer while you melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat and stir in 1/4 cup flour. Slowly add the milk and stir until it thickens up. 
Then add 2 cups of cheese and stir until it's nice and melty.
Revel in all that dairy goodness. 
Take your time. We know it's a beautiful sight. 
Spend a couple of minutes checking out
Then, when you're good and ready, add two cans of creamed corn and stir until it's heated through. 
Frankly, I could just eat this mixture right here, but that's not how the recipe goes. 
Add the mixture to the vegetables and stir until the chowder is warmed through. 
Sprinkle with bacon bits. (The hog farmers among us thank you.)

Level: Easy 
Farmer's score: Four green tractors 
Farmer's comments: "Mfghfm." (His mouth was full.)
Notes: This thick and creamy soup has just the right amount of vegetables and dairy to fill you up, leave you wanting more, and warm your insides when you've been outside making sure the cows get what's best for them to eat too. 

Happy grazing! 

PS Check out Midwest Dairy's website for info on why cheese and milk are so, so good for you. 


  1. Are the milk, butter and cheese in the recipe from Heins cows?

    1. If I buy the right brand at the grocery store, the milk is! :)

    2. The Mostly Reverend? That, sir, is a hoot!

  2. You hubby will appreciate this. As a brand new pastor who had never spent any time on any farm at all, I was assigned to a congregation in rural Iowa with most members engaged in ... yup ... dairy farming. One of my first questions to one of the key members in the congregation was, "What are those big blue silos on your farms? Is that where you store the milk?"

    Yes, I did.

    Next Sunday the word has flashed around the congregation that their new pastor was quite appallingly ignorant about dairy farming so I announced in the sermon that I would do my best to teach them a bit more about how much God loves them if they would do their best to teach me a bit about dairy farming.

    : )

    1. I'm pretty sure I'm still asking questions like that. (Ack.) This is simply a good sign that you needed your congregation and they needed you! :)

  3. Yum! This looks delicious! I don't think I've yet to make a soup with cans of creamed corn. It's going on the top of my "to make" list. My Uncle was a dairy farmer in rural Kansas, so I always enjoyed a visit to the farm. I still remember the amazement when my 4th grade classmates in San Antonio, Texas, needed explanation about silos and grain elevators.

    1. When you do make it, let me know what you think of it! (And high five to the girl who knew what was up on the farm when no one else did. That's awesome!)

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  6. you drain the veggies or do you add the cheesy sauce to the water/veggies.

    1. I made this tonight as I had read about it on the best cheese dish in every state article and was missing my Iowa roots. I used veggie stock and added the mixture all together. It made for a very nice soup and hit just the spot, especially since it snowed in Portland today, which is rather rare. :)

  7. I made this for my 8month old this morning and she loved it, I even made it for myself, it's delicious! I will definitely be making this again.

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