A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

This Corn and Shrimp Chowder Soothes My Couponing Failure

Late last year during my blogging hiatus, my BFF Laura talked me into drinking the “Extreme Couponing” Kool-Aid with her. Laura and I have a long history of being serial hobby enthusiasts. I’ve heard it goes with the territory of adult ADD, particularly in women.

Our kitchens are littered with the proof of our various attempts to change our lives with the newest craze. Well, mine is. Laura is MUCH better than I am at selling things on Ebay and Craig’s List. I, on the other hand, am a bit of a hoarder and hold on to my crap like a fecal obsessed potty training toddler.

For example, I own a wheat grinder and over 25 pounds of various grains, a juicer, the equipment to grow my own sprouts, a tortilla maker, a waffle iron, a panini maker, personal shake mixers, an applesauce press, and three crock pots of various sizes. And I’m just talking about the kitchen. You don’t even want to know how many crafts I have temporarily engrossed myself in over the years.

So when I saw Laura’s coupon binder last year and the semi-crazed glint in her eye when she shared how much money she was saving each week, I took the bait.

I bought a special binder.

I bought fancy tabs for that binder.

I bought enough baseball card holders to safely encase thousands of coupons.

I started buying 4 newspapers a week.

I bought a subscription to all*you magazine.

I joined every frequent shopper club I could at every local store and pharmacy.

I bought a bag tag at CVS.

I started frequenting couponing websites.

And then I started flipping, and clipping, and filing, and carrying that huge-ass binder with me everywhere I went. It was a full-time job.

And I sucked at it.

The math, and planning, and organizational skills required for this obsession totally overwhelmed my creative little brain.

I found myself buying all kinds of products I never would have purchased without a coupon just because I was getting a deal. And the time involved hunting down the obscure products I didn’t like in the first place! Dumb.

I’m talking Axe body spray that repelled animals, maxi pads the size of flying carpets, a lifetime supply of hideous lipsticks I wouldn’t even use to write REDRUM on the bathroom mirror and freak out my kids.

In the end, my extreme couponing was short lived, like my home wheat grinding, sprout farming, and tortilla making. Still have that damn electric tortilla maker if anyone wants it.

Now a days, the only time I’ll use a coupon is if somebody sends me one to shut me up, like that sweet executive at General Mills who responded immediately to my x-rated Tweet about the broken taco shells. Bless his heart.

As for that subscription to all*you magazine, I am ashamed to admit I have NEVER clipped a single coupon from it. What a waste; the coupons are outrageously good.

But I will say this, the recipes in all*you are consistently awesome. And believe you-me, I know a good recipe when I see one.

In the October 2011 issue, there is a whole section of recipes dedicated to using your slow cooker. I’ve already made their Corn Chowder with Shrimp TWICE, and it’s still October…it is that good.

I did tweak it just a tiny bit, so here’s my slightly modified version of the all*you Corn Chowder with Shrimp recipe:

Prep: 15 min.
Cook: 6 hr. 15 min.
Serves: 6
Cost per serving: $3.06


  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  16-oz. bags frozen corn
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 russet potatoes, diced (don’t peel)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • half a frozen blob of chipotle puree  (or 1/2 tsp. or so of chipotle powder)*
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1.)  Combine broth, corn, onion, bell pepper, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp. salt in slow cooker (use your big one). Cover and cook on LOW until vegetables are tender, about 6 hours.

2.) Puree 3 cups of the soup in a blender and return to clow cooker. Stir in shrimp. Cover and cook until shrimp are pink and firm, 10-15 minutes. Stir in cream, if desired, and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and peppper, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

My kids said it looked like vomit, but smelled really good.

*The only thing I did to modify this recipe was add some chipotle flavor because I thought it was a little bland. But other than that, delish! So easy to throw together in the morning and have waiting for you on a chilly autumn evening. Serve with crusty bread and a salad and you have a completely satisfying meal.

Nature Boy has texture issues so I pureed his whole bowl separately. He didn't like it, even after I kowtowed to his pain-in-the-ass "special needs." Ingrate. Good thing he's so cute or I'd have surely killed him by now.

PER SERVING: 371 Cal., 10g Fat (5g Sat.), 141mg Chol., 6g Fiber, 25g Pro., 51g Carb., 710mg Sod.

Seriously, want a tortilla maker? How about a coupon binder complete with tabs and plastic inserts? Make me an offer. Free shipping. I’ll throw in a high value Old El Paso coupon.

Let’s make a deal,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Muffintopmommy

    OH my God. You’re me and it’s scary—cuz you take it to a larger scale!! (But I’m sure I am larger on the scale..so um, YOU WIN, Iris!!!) 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! But your shoe closet is better than mine, AND you got all of yours for ridiculous deals, so now who’s the winner?! (I vote YOU!)

      • Muffintopmommy

        Oh hellz yeah, you have a point on me shoes. I found my coupon post I wrote from two years ago—thought you might have a “Sister–yeah!” moment if you read it. I tried. That’s all I can say. I have other fine qualities. I’m a damn good car parker (not to get braggy but if times get tough, I’d rock it as a valet dude).

        IN coupon failure,


  2. Dizzy Desi

    Tooo funny!! All of a sudden, several girl friends have started doing this insanity. Now…I’ve never met a coupon I didn’t like, but this extreme business is nuts. They are buying stuff I’ve never considered buying, in bulk, and then donating or giving it away??!! They clear the shelves of any good deal so no one can get it and then don’t even use it themselves…Can you tell I just missed a great price on something I actually use ; )

    • colleen

      I caught a little bit of an episode yesterday on TLC–this one woman was couponing in order to save money to get out of their crappy Detroit neighborhood, and move to Hawaii. She wanted to save $ AND have a huge stockpile to take with her. Someone needed to explain to this woman that moving all that shit to Hawaii is going to cost 3x as much as she saved!!
      They also had a preview of a HS boy who was couponing and stockpiling. He was so proud of his stash of maxi-pad with wings even though “I don’t even know what these are, but they were free!” THAT kid is going to be razzed right out of his school, guarantee it…

      • The Bearded Iris

        THAT is hilarious. The stock pile in general is a little freaky to me. I totally get the people who do this for sport and then share most of their spoils with food pantries. That’s awesome! But a HS boy stockpiling fem hygiene goods he doesn’t even know about? WTF dude?

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh I hate when people clear the shelves like that! It’s so greedy. I like a good deal as much as the next gal, I just don’t want to have too work too hard for it, or get behind one of these beeyotches with their 200 coupons.

      Totally admire the people who donate their hard earned scores to food pantries and shelters though. Way to use those super powers for good!!!

  3. Pricilla - Famous SpokesGoat

    If the publicist had known about the wheat grinder she would have made you an offer and hauled it back with her….

    That soup looks yummy and she may try it with chicken. There are no shrimp in Montana and she and the male person just butchered a whole lot of chickens

    • The Bearded Iris

      It would be equally delicious with chicken, Pricilla. You could even keep it vegetarian and add a can of black beans. Or, if you have any arch enemies, I bet some goat meat would also be super yummy. No offense. If you taste as good as your goat milk soaps feel on my skin, I’d watch your back.

  4. Rhonda L

    Hi Iris! I’m one of you blog stalkers…just have to say, I love your blog!! I, like you, have multiple gadgets in my kitchen!! I already have the tortilla maker but I’m saving up for a wheat grinder next! LOL!! Got my coupon binder and use it but I’m obviously not as good as some people but boy do I have coupons!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hi Rhonda! Thanks for de-lurking! Love the comments, keep ’em coming! I still do use my wheat grinder once in a while… and I’ll be all set when the apocalypse comes. 😉

  5. oneshabbychick

    Thanks! That’s dinner tonight… you just made this lazy mama’s day!

    • The Bearded Iris

      You won’t regret it, sister! LOVE THIS SOUP! I never made it without the cream, so if you are not lactose intolerant, USE IT! Super yummy, and it is really not that much. The pureeing is what makes it so rich and creamy. Hope you like it as much as we do! 🙂

      • Sarah

        If you are dairy-free, you could probably substitute a can of coconut milk. That usually comes out pretty good.

  6. Didi

    You literally kill me!! I am so glad I found your blog because it alway’s give me a laugh, and I mean a “laugh”, not a chuckle, not a snicker… but a laugh!!

    I may not alway’s post, but know you are being read, and keep up the great work kiddo… keep it real, keep it YOU!!! We wouldn’t have it any other way!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      So awesome Didi! Thank you for telling me that! I do love your comments; they always brighten my day.

  7. Julie

    I want the tortilla maker! Yum!

    I tried couponing for awhile, and it was fun to look at all the deals I’d scored, but it does take up way too much time, time that is better spent walking my goldfish.

    The chowder looks great – unfortunately I am forbidden from serving anything with the word chowder in the name. 🙁

    • The Bearded Iris

      Yes, “chowder” has a lot of negative connotations, doesn’t it. How ’bout just changing the name to soup? Or stew? Or stoup? You could even swap out the shrimp for a beloved pork product of choice. Mmmm, bacon would be a great addition!

  8. Heather Novak

    Just bought a tortilla press for our homemade whole wheat tortillas, think a maker would take up too much space in the Tiny Red Kitchen. I also JUST tossed coupons last week, unless it is a dollar or free I just. don’t. use. them. Plus we are whole food & natural living shhhnobs and rarely buy the processed crap them coupons are for. You make me laugh big time. I just linked to your running post from todays post…YOU KILL ME.

  9. Tracy @ Brain Chatter

    I LOVE watching that extreme couponing show, but know that I just don’t have the attention span to actually do it myself. (I have two children with ADD…..gee, I wonder where they get it from…….)

    That soup looks very yummy! I’m all over a crock pot recipe! This week we’re doing Salsa Chicken (chicken breasts rubbed with taco seasoning thrown in the crock pot with a jar of salsa…..the end. Deeeelish!!) and Chicken Chili.

    My husband is a big fan of Alton Brown…..the Good Eats guy on Food Network who’s motto is “The only unitasker in the kitchen should be the fire extinguisher.” so, we don’t have many specialized kitchen gadgets. Though, he’s the same guy that wants to buy an oil drum sized meat smoker to replace our BBQ grill.

  10. Mel

    Glad to hear, in a way, that the couponing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I just can’t bear the idea of all that work on top of working; I’d rather just pay for the stuff I want than buy a bunch of stuff I don’t.

  11. Cath

    Thanks for a great post. I love waking up to a funny story and today’s contained a bonus recipe! Yay! Dinner is in the crock pot and I’m off to work. Thanks for all the sharing of ideas, I’m going to try coconut milk because less dairy is better for me. And for the person I sleep with. I added tarragon because I love it with corn.
    My eldest has texture AND taste issues. Oh well, he’s 12, he can make himself a grilled cheese!

  12. Allysgrandma

    I cannot extreme coupon because I live in California and do not want to spent 40 hours a week doing anything…..

    Chowder, chowder is a bad word? We live in the world of excellent clam chowders so your recipe sounds like a winner to me.

    As usual the dose of “laughter is the best medicine” is greatly appreciated Iris! Damn I have to admit though that since getting on the treadmill 60 minutes a day (after taking a Vicodin and Naprosyn) is helping me feel better too. Did I just say that?? Exercise is making me feel better…I never thought I would say those words (it’s probably the meds that helps to, since they are fully kicked in after 60 minutes)!

    PS I have considered subscribing to All You, especially since the closest Walmart is over an hour drive away North on a less than easy drive (but beautiful along the coast and through the Redwoods).
    PSS Did I ever tell you I think your hairy husband is HOT! And nice picture of eldest, we rarely get to see him, another heartbreaker in the making.

  13. Shannon

    My name is Shannon, and I tried to jump onto the “you gotta have a coupon binder” train which subsequently ran me over! I’m giving up on filling those plastic inserts.

    I didn’t do too badly yesterday…with my disorganized coupon mess I did get a free 2-liter of Dr. Pepper, free flashlight and free conditioner. I guess if I’m filled with caffeine, have great looking hair and can see in the dark, I’m doing okay!

  14. Kathryn Frost

    This is so damned funny, the wheat grinder is the one that got me! I say most of these have “white elephant gift” written aaaaaaall over them! I’m half tempted to give you my address just so you’ll send me the fucking grinder because I would LOVE to give it to some poor, unsuspecting soul.

  15. Amanda

    Okay, I’ve got to ask. Were you randomly looking through pictures on your computer when you came across the one of bucket head covered in coupons and decided “hey, that’d make a good post” or were you sitting at your computer hemming and hawing over what to write and decided “I know, I’ll write about those crazy couponing people. Hmmm, now what kind of interesting picture can I take to include in this blog. I know! Buckethead covered in coupons”, cause I just gotta know.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Great question!

      Neither, actually. My first idea was to share that recipe, but I knew I would need to refer to the all*you magazine to give them credit, and then I thought, isn’t it funny that I have this subscription to a couponing magazine and I only use it for the dang recipes! So then I thought, you know, I still have a binder full of expired coupons…I need to clean out that binder anyway, so I’ll just let Bucket Head play with them and maybe it will be a good photo op. Naturally, the kid decided to make snow angels out of the coupons. Maybe we’ll make a craft out of them. I’m thinking decoupage! 🙂

  16. Robin

    Hey Iris! Decoupage pencil holders from tin cans make great Christmas gifts! I’ll be glad to take that coupon binder off your hands. I’ve been using a cardboard accordion folder for years that I got from the dollar store that has so many taped up edges it’s getting hard to deal with. I’ll even send you a tie dye in return!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hmmmm, tempting! I think I might be able to recycle the binder though for my kids’ Pokemon Card collection (gag). Are you sure you don’t want a tortilla maker? 😉

      • Robin

        Hmmm, Well, I have had some success making vegan tamales. Maybe I should try tortillas! What size tie dye shirt do you want in exchange. Or skirt, or blouse, or onesie?

  17. By Word of Mouth Musings

    So my first bloggy conf and my girlfriend and I sat down at a table with a bunch of animated women.
    Frugal bloggers – not being American, I was not really sure what that meant they were, like had sex infrequently or something. (thought I’d fit right in really) Then they started talking about shopping.
    Feeding a family of four on $125 a week.
    I was astounded, and told them I spent more than that on wine …
    I may have heard the term ‘tarred and feathered’ tossed around …
    We left and went to a bar.

    btw get your halloween stuff together and come link up – mkay?

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hilarious! What I wouldn’t give to be sitting at that table and see their faces.

  18. Leighann

    We can’t extreme coupon in Canada because our laws don’t allow doubling up on coupons and we don’t have any fancy grocery cards.
    I also don’t have the time to cut all of that shat.

    Your family is adorable.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you. I agree!

  19. Another one

    Made the soup last night. The chocolate is still better, but this is delicious!

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