Fog along the Front Range in Colorado isn’t terribly common, but we have it. What we have more often are low-hanging clouds over the mountains. This last week, though, there have been days of it along with rain, wind, and snow…obscuring views and sadly forcing people indoors even more than usual. In such weather, I need some extra grounding and daily take my “centering” walk–a slow amble around the house, counting my steps up to 1,000 or more, stopping at each window to make myself aware of three things outdoors that I don’t usually notice–or even stopping in a room to notice three items. In my office, I leave out a prayer book and stop there to read the same prayer each time I pass through the room. By the time I’m done, I can breathe and even see better.
below: actually taken a couple of weeks ago off my back deck facing east, but you get the idea
Without normal vision, those of us at home can feel in a sort of “pea soup” space–reminiscent of the famous, deadly London fogs of the ’50s–caused by horrific pollution if memory serves. As a food blogger retired from paid work (mostly anyway), I suppose I’m home quite a bit all of the time and so I can’t figure out why this all seems so out of place, out of synch, out time, out of mind. Blurred views are also somewhat surreal, making me –and maybe a lot of folks in my age group — wonder about what’s going on out there where we can’t see. Socially distanced, quarantined, removed, isolated, alone…there are many ways of looking at this life we’re facing…and it’s not an easy thing to understand, to know if we’re getting the right scoop. I’m watching movies or series at night and maybe a little Create (PBS) here and there, but not much cable or network programming, especially news. The NEW YORK TIMES keeps me updated and I occasionally peek in to read the MSNBC headlines and an article or two. Tonight, we watched PBS news. Other than that, I’m mostly home, keeping a good schedule, cooking, reading, playing games, coloring, writing, walking in the ‘hood or on the treadmill, doing my yoga stretch routine, playing the piano, watching for signs of spring, and texting friends and family. What are you doing to keep your balance, to attempt good vision?
below: daffodils coming up in our front yard
above: the coffee table these days
Meanwhile, I’m cooking for two or we’re cooking together as a couple. I’m missing planning for dinner guests, but we’re looking at meals we love, sweets we wouldn’t have otherwise eaten, and are opening some wine we thought we were saving but aren’t. Menu choices have been based on what’s needing to be used, ingredients on hand, a bow to our daily health, and heart’s desires. We have begun ordering our groceries (no complaints–went well), so are also about to become limited to what the store has on the shelf. Our delivery person indicated a lot of empty real estate there. Are you still shopping in person or ordering online?
6 Pantry Meals from More Time at the Table
Despite the cooking tasty meals and praying, I find I have a lesser appetite than before. Perhaps half. Is it because we know we might have to save enough for weeks? Or am I simply sick to my stomach? A lifelong Weight Watcher–mostly unsuccessful but never giving up — I’ve for the past several months not weighed myself, but began again in late January, rejoining the program online. This week, I find I’ve lost a half a pound nearly daily. While I could stand to lose the lbs, it’s a bit frightening. Needless to say, when I was counting every bite and recording it on the WW app, I was losing nil. Roll eyes over and over again. Anyway. Here are some things from our kitchen over the last week that have sustained, encouraged, and kept us handily occupied. I mean, if you have all afternoon to make dinner, why not?? If you need to use a slew of mushrooms, what to do? If there’s not enough _____________, you then make______________.
MORE TIME’S EASY HOMEMADE PIZZA…AND AN OMELET FROM THE LEFTOVERS
Dave (the hub) made the More Time homemade pizza last Thursday– a huge favorite. I ate one piece and the topping off another. That’s its. Typically I’m a glutton for pizza; it’s my favorite food. Tummy problems? No. Just can’t handle it all. This is a big pie and we ate not even half of it, but saved the rest for Saturday night and ate it on trays watching a movie.
Still two pieces remained after that and the toppings were stuffed into a Sunday morning omelet graced with some sautéed tomatoes and basil. Dogs got the crusts. Dave made the omelet and I made a batch of scones to go alongside. We typically go out for brunch every Sunday after church, so seldom cook this meal. Now we’re making it at home and watching church on tv, which we’re loving. Actually we get an email with a link to a recording service, but we attach the computer to the tv and see it there. Wondrous, wondrous to still be connected and the dogs finally get to worship with us. Changing times.
CHOCOLATE-GINGER CHEESECAKE–Necessity is the Mother of Invention
A quick scan of the garage fridge (food bloggers have a lot of storage) turned up a big chunk of cream cheese from Costco. I often make large batches of my Green Chile-Pimento Cheese Spread for friends, gifts, or the freezer and it uses up quite a bit of cream cheese. Somehow all of it it hadn’t been used and you know how cream cheese is: it lasts forever and then it’s totally molded and in the trash. I thought for…oh, all of thirty seconds…before deciding to make a cheesecake with it, something I usually only bake for birthdays or special parties. I brought the recipe up for my typical cake, and of course I was missing several things including cream cheese; there wasn’t enough. I had 25 out of the 40 required ounces. I had no cream, but that was easily solved with milk. Graham crackers were no where to be found, but after rummaging through the cupboards, there were going-stale store-bought chocolate wafers I’d used for a chocolate cheese cake crust a few weeks ago, and what else? THERE WERE CHRISTMAS COOKIES in the freezer! Ginger ones. Spicy gold! Looking at all my bounty, I knew I had enough to bake a 9-inch cheesecake, but didn’t have enough for the traditional deep, thick version. It would be a skinnier cake, but tasty all the same with a flavorful crust I’d never tried before. I simply cut down the sugar and eggs to match the amount of cream cheese I had (generally kept the proportion of the original) and whirred up all the cookies in the food processor with melted butter, but no additional sugar since they were full of sugar already. So, 5 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, 5 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 3 tablespoons flour became 3 8-ounce packages, 4 eggs, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour plus the required vanilla and lemon juice, which I didn’t change. Instead of 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, I used 1 1/4 cups ground chocolate and ginger cookie crumbs–keeping the crust size the same. It baked nearly as long as the larger cake, but not quite. And, here it is. Let me introduce My New Cake:
SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH HAM
The mainstay of our kitchens right now appears to be meals made with dried beans or peas and longtime readers are well-acquainted with my big collection of bean soups. Just like everyone else, I’m doing my best to make the tastiest versions and, in this recipe’s case, I won. While I’m a huge fan of vegetarian soups, I love a good bean, pea, or lentil potful flavored with bacon or ham. A few weeks ago, I had frozen some smoked ham shanks –much like ham hocks, but meatier — and pulled one out of the freezer for a really big batch of SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH HAM. No meat for you? Use one of the recipes below or make mine and begin with sautéing the onions and so on in olive oil (vegan) or butter (vegetarian), skip adding the meat in the now vegetable instead of chicken broth.
Recipe for Vegan Split Pea Soup: Allrecipes.com
Stale bread? No way. It’s just waiting to be diced and fried up to garnish your soup! Season after removing from pan and draining in a bowl with paper or cloth towel.
Pea protein: Most legumes (known as pulses in their dried states) need the addition of another food so that you have a complete protein (they’re missing an amino acid and so beans need rice, peanut butter needs wheat, etc.)—peas, though, are closer to a complete protein! This is why so many people add pea powder to their smoothies. You win in all sorts of ways.
Peas are the seeds from the pod fruit Pisum sativum, a member of the legume family. They are rich in protein, with one-half cup of cooked split peas providing 8 grams (by comparison, a large egg has 6 grams). And they’re less likely to cause allergies than other high-protein foods such as milk, eggs, nuts, and soy-a fact that some food companies are using in their marketing pitches. … According to a few animal and small human studies, pea protein may be able to help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve satiety, and increase muscle.–Health and Wellness Alerts, Berkley EDU
Split Pea Soup is not the sort of dish I’d use a recipe for (I’ve often made it while camping as it’s so quick), but just for fun I thought I’d look through my books to see what I came up with. There were lots! One of my favorite Split Pea Soups is made on the ships of the Holland America line, which often feature Dutch dishes honoring their Netherlands beginning. Dutch Pea Soup is served in the Lido (cafeteria) and in the main dining room and is a hit with everyone. Try as I may, I couldn’t find that recipe as it’s in a book somewhere and hence not online (copyright). One I did find was in an Ina Garten’s book, “Parker’s Split Pea Soup.” As I’m a way-back Ina fan, I thought I’d try Parker’s idea to add some of the peas later in the cooking process in order to give the soup more texture. (By the way, Parker’s soup is vegetarian if you switch out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.) And, hello, I liked it that way and am definitely stealing the thought for now and going forward.
However you make yours, I hope you’ll use an idea or two from my recipe and cook this soon. Ideas for replacements and changes below the printed recipe. I also include basic nutritional info for pea soup from the USDA, which shows 8 grams of protein and 4.8 grams of fiber in every cup of soup. They show a high level of sodium, so watch that salt if you’re needing to. Whoa! Here it is:
split pea soup with ham
- ¼ cup olive oil regular is fine
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium yellow onions diced
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon each: dried thyme and oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 medium carrots trimmed and peeled, medium-diced
- 3 medium parsnips trimmed and peeled, small-diced
- 2 medium red potatoes unpeeled, medium-diced
- 2 pounds split peas well-rinsed and picked over
- 1 smoked ham hock or ham shank the shank will have more meat
- 10 cups water
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- Hot sauce—optional to taste
- Fresh lemon juice for garnish optional
- Seeded tortilla chips for serving
- Measure the oil into a 10-quart soup pot. Heat over medium flame for a minute or so; add crushed red pepper and garlic, cooking for 30 seconds. Tip in the onions and celery. Season with two teaspoons kosher salt, one teaspoon fresh ground pepper, the thyme, oregano, and bay leaves. Let cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softening.
- Stir in the carrots, parsnips, potatoes, all of the peas except ½ cup, ham hock, water, and chicken broth. Cover, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce to simmer, and cook 30 minutes. Add the reserved peas. Cook until vegetables are tender (a few peas should have a little bite) and soup is thickened—another 30-40 minutes. Stir regularly throughout cooking time and add a little more water or broth if the soup becomes too thick before it is done.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a shake or two of hot sauce to taste. Remove ham hock or shank and let cool briefly. Chop the meat and return it to the pot; discard the hock. Serve hot garnished with a squeeze of fresh lemon or homemade croutons if you like. Serve the seeded tortilla chips on the side.
SUBSTITUTIONS/CHANGES/IDEAS: I had a lot of vegetables on hand; you can use fewer or all carrots instead of parsnips and carrots. Different onions aren’t required: all yellow or any combination cooks up fine. Leeks? Even better! No garlic on hand? Forgo it or use a half-teaspoon of garlic powder. The potatoes will thicken up the soup, but can be left out. No broth? All water will make a tasty soup and often does. Ham hock or shank can be replaced with a cup of chopped ham, smoked kielbasa, or even a few pieces of diced bacon. If using bacon, sauté the chopped bacon in the oil at the beginning of the recipe until nearly crispy. Remove from the pan and reserve, adding back into the pot for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
TUMMY TROUBLES: If you find yourself with tummy distress after eating too many beans or peas or lentils, try eating some every other day rather than every day. Don’t give up. Freeze some for next week even. The more you eat these good things, the less problems you’ll have.
So it turned out my much-loved split peas are grown not far from where we live! Next time we travel east out of El Paso county and into Lincoln, I’m keeping my eyes peeled. YES!!
Nutrition Facts–Basic Pea soup from the USDA
|Amount Per 1 cup (259.2 g)|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3.2 g||4%|
|Saturated fat 1.6 g||8%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0.8 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 872 mg||36%|
|Potassium 184 mg||5%|
|Total Carbohydrate 25.6 g||8%|
|Dietary fiber 4.8 g||19%|
|Sugar 8 g|
|Protein 8 g||16%|
|Vitamin A||0%||Vitamin C||2%|
|Vitamin D||0%||Vitamin B-6||0%|
|*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
STUFF TO READ:
“Mini Twisted History: The pea soup mystery” THE REGISTER CITIZEN.
“Boiling Down the Dietary Guidelines.” MAYO CLINIC
Our 35 Best Bean Soup Recipes. EPICURIOUS
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
MORE TIME: FRENCH STYLE–Lentil Soup with Flageolet Beans and Sausage
Cook soup for health, wealth, and happiness is one of my mottos. Let it be yours, too. Take good care of yourself starting with your next meal,