Monday, December 27, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup at Christmas time has become a tradition in our family. Actually anything we do once and like becomes a tradition. My sister had a friend named Art and he brought a Honeybaked Ham to my parents house for a meal. Instant heaven. Once you eat the delicious sweet ham, you can't just throw away the bone! You have to make soup. A Honeybaked ham bone makes the world's best soup.

One complication of this tradition is that Tara is a vegetarian. We can't have a meal that exists solely of soup and bread as she will be reduced to eating only bread and that isn't nice. On the other hand I don't want to have to make two different meals...that isn't nice. So I make a ham based soup and a veggie based soup at the same time in two different pans. Here is how that works. Now, you have to understand that I don't rely on a recipe, so I make it slightly different each time. Here is how I made it this year.

Split Pea Soup....with and without ham!

Chicken broth..whatever you have on hand. I use what I have and water if needed or just water.
Vegetable broth....two cans
2 bags split peas
celery if you have some.
chopped garlic
A wee bit of olive oil, or skip the saute step and dump the veggies in the pot.

I chopped up the left over onion from the night before. It was a big one so it make about 1 1/2 cups. Then I chopped up about 15 or 20 mini carrots and a couple of celery sticks. I have never used celery and thought it would be nice.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of EVOO in a large stock pot and a medium sized saucepan. I put about 1/4 of the chopped veggies in the small pan and the rest in the large pan reserving the garlic. Garlic will turn bitter pretty quick, so I sauteed the veggies a few minutes over medium and then added the garlic. I have also just dumped them in the pan without oil and I don't notice a real difference in taste.

After the garlic cooked for about a minute...OK, let's be honest here. I don't time it. After I dumped in the garlic I dumped the ham bone in the big pot.

I added one and one half of the split peas and then added the chicken stock (I had one can) and poured in about 3 cups of water. I didn't wait or time anything. This is a EASY recipe!!

Then I added the last of the split peas to the smaller pan and pored in the 2 cans of vegetable stock. I turned up the heat to medium high on both pans. While I was waiting for the pans to boil, I cleaned up the kitchen and then after they boiled I turned down the pans and went in to rest. WHEW!

OK. In reality I came in and stirred every 30 minutes or so and had to turn down the heat a bit and once I had to add water to the ham based version as it was getting too thick, but basically I had 2 hours of nothin'. Hey! It's Christmas! I had a lot of recuperating to do! The hardest part is remembering which is the spoon I stir the ham based soup with and which is for the veggie version.

After 2 hours or three, who's counting? I took out the ham bone. Now I don't like to eat meat with fat or gristle, so I painstakingly cut off the parts I don't like and returned the chopped up bits to the soup. I might even add an extra slice or two of the ham all chopped up as I like a lot of ham in my soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Guess what? You are done, now! You can keep it warm on the stove while you make some sort of interesting bread. We just toasted some we had leftover from another meal. This is the meal I make after all the fancy holiday meals and it is really EASY. And it is DELICIOUS!

When our kids were little, Split Pea Soup was hard to say (you say it three times fast!) One of the kids, who shall be nameless, not to protect their privacy or anything, but because I can't remember, called it Spit Sea Poop. I must admit that we still call it that. There is a chance that you will also call it that, because the tongue finds that easier for some reason. Just don't slip up and call it that in a restaurant. But if you do, please let me know!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It snowed last week and as I look out our second floor office window, I can still see snow everywhere I look. It's starting to get thin, now, so I expect it won't be there in a day or two. I have been putting the hay in the run-in shed that Lee built and I am happy to see the horses in there from time to time. Lee finished it just in time.

I plan on rotating pastures in January. Then Libby and Claire will have to get used to going in the OTHER shed! At least I know that whether it is cold or hot, they can always find shelter if they need it. It is particularly important when I am at work and there is a weather change. I used to feel terrible if it suddenly came up storming and there was no way to get them to shelter.

Right now they have had blankets on since Wednesday. It is supposed to be 45 degrees on Tuesday, so maybe they can get them off then. I don't like to keep the blankets on too long in case they develop an area that is rubbed raw and I can't see it.

Lee got a post card in the mail the other day. A man had aerial pictures of our house and was selling them. What a cool idea. These were before Lee finished the second run-in shed, but you can see the materials in the field. Now you can see what a great place we have. Won't it make a wonderful B&B?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I haven't written for some time. Between Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas, it seems like I have had no free time. In reality I have had quite a bit of free time, but I have chosen to spend it being a slug and reading and watching trashy television. Tara has gotten me hooked on 16 and Pregnant and we are enjoying the guilty pleasure of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills!!! Throw in a bunch of reading while petting kitties that miss me while I am at work and you can see that I have had no time . Really. None at all.

In the meantime, Lee has finished the run-in shed in the other pasture in time for the winter. I don't know whether the horses appreciate it, but I certainly do. He also has built a doggy prison in the basement. He walled off a portion of the basement that includes the dog door to the fenced-in garden area off the basement. Now the dog can stay warm in the basement or go out side and bark and sniff and do other doggy things. Unfortunately he can also climb up the gate and hop over it. We have been working on preventing his escapes, but every time we drive up he is waiting for us in the driveway with a sappy grin on his face. I don't care if he is out as long as he sticks around, but we worry he will run down the drive and get hit or lost, so we keep "improving" his prison.

We had a great Thanksgiving. My brother Roland and his wife Jane and her brother Mark came from Alexandria. Tara has been living with them while looking for work and she came also. My Aunt Suzy from North Carolina came and brought her daughter Saja, who also happens to be my cousin Saja. Saja brought her husband Beau and also her two daughters, Evan and Addison. They are intrepid mule drivers and horse visitors, so they were barely seen and hardly heard. They did show up to eat, however!

The Fincastle Library has had a lovely volunteer for some time now. Her name is Rupinder and she and her husband have come from New Zealand, and before that, India, to live here. Her husband Parminder works for a New Zealand manufacturing company in Buchanan and because Rupinder doesn't know many people in the area and she can't work yet, she has been volunteering EVERY DAY.

One day I was telling her that we would be closed for the holiday so that she should not come. I tried to explain the concept of the Thanksgiving holiday to her and ended up inviting Rupinder and her husband to come and join us. I told her it was about families getting together, but also about welcoming others! They were able to come and we had a great time. Rupinder is a good cook and she brought many Indian dishes for us all to enjoy. They are vegetarian and so is Tara so we had lots of dishes for them to try also.

And so that is how we came to recreate the original Thanksgiving. We Pilgrims to Virginia served our food and the Indian neighbors brought their food and we had a great meal in fellowship and Thanksgiving for all our blessings. A perfect day.