"Always" enjoy with half of a grilled cheese sandwich, she suggests.
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As schools coast to coast ease back into session—in a very different way this year—we'd like to present our answer to a common icebreaker question.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Ina Garten.

At least when it comes to quarantine cooking, that is. The cookbook author, Food Network host and entertainer extraordinaire has been our culinary guide since March (remember the oversized cosmo days?!). And now, Garten is guiding us toward fall with a, "perfect late summer lunch when it's a little chilly outside and the corn is still delicious." It's from 1999's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook ($22, amazon.com) and is, according to Garten, "easy to make and so satisfying!"

The beginner-friendly Cheddar Corn Chowder recipe can now also be found on her website, and has immediately made its way on our Labor Day weekend menus. (BTW, it's remarkably similar to this Corn Chowder with Bacon we developed and love!)

ina garten

Any recipe that starts with "cook 8 ounces of bacon," as this one does, can't be bad. After removing the crispy bacon from the pan, Garten suggests cooking the onions in the bacon fat, then it's time to make a paste to thicken the chowder with flour, anti-inflammatory turmeric, salt and pepper. Chicken stock, potatoes and the star of the show—10 cups of blanched fresh corn kernels—join the party. Half-and-half and cheddar cheese are the final two components, then all that's left to do is simmer and serve with that cooked, crumbled bacon on top. (We're practically drooling.)

While it won't taste quite as decadent, we have plans to make this cozy recipe as-written with plain plant-based milk instead of half-and-half. And since Garten we "always" should in the comments of the Instagram post for this chowder recipe, we'll be pairing our bowls with half of a grilled cheese sandwich.