Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Split Pea Soup

JUST BECAUSE IT IS SPRING DOES NOT MEAN it is warm. It took me a while to figure that out when I moved to these mountains years ago. In fact, on the first official day of spring, this year, we had snow. It is a time of year I don't plan too many meals in advance. I may want a salad for dinner or I may want a bowl of warming soup. I try to stay flexible.

I love split pea soup but I don't cook it that often because Pritchard Parker doesn't love it. He will eat it; he thinks it is OK. I made the soup this day for a couple of reasons, one being I had some leftover ham in the freezer I wanted to go ahead and use. Plus I had everything else on hand and wouldn't need to go out to the store.

To start the soup, I got out my soup pot, 2 medium-large potatoes, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, a jumbo onion,the frozen ham, and a one pound package of green split peas. I looked at all this and asked myself, "How many people are you making soup for"? I replied, "Two, and one of them is not even that crazy about it". I exchanged my big soup pot for a smaller one, put away one of the potatoes, one carrot, and one of the celery stalks. I used half the onion, half the package of split peas, and half the ham.

Split Pea Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 medium-large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. green split peas
3 ounces (approximate) ham, to taste (optional)
Salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf

Over medium heat, saute the onion, celery, carrot, and potatoes in the olive oil, until beginning to become tender. Add salt and pepper. Stir in the split peas, add the ham and bay leaf. Cover the mixture with water to about 1 inch above the vegetables. Bring to a boil then lower heat; cover and simmer for 2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water when needed.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

FOR THE RECORD, I LOVE VEGETABLES. All vegetables. I've never met one I didn't love.

At a recent gathering of immediate family, extended family, friends, and in-laws, the subject of food came up. (Imagine)!  The conversation drifted to vegetables and a discussion of likes and dislikes ensued.

Topping the "dislike" list were eggplant and mushrooms. At the top of the well loved list was greens--specifically the traditional Southern greens of collards, turnip greens, and mustard greens. A close second of the "like" list was beans. All beans, fresh, frozen, dried, and canned. The group was evenly divided on squash. My husband was the only one who doesn't like corn.

When okra was mentioned the group split into the "I only like it fried" side, and on my side, the "I like it all ways".  

Once home, I kept thinking about okra and needed to go ahead and cook some. Stewed okra and tomatoes is a regular item in our home; we both enjoy it very much. It is best, of course, in the peak of summer when garden fresh vegetables are available. Otherwise frozen okra and canned tomatoes make a fine substitute.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large, sweet onion, chopped
1 lb. okra, thoroughly rinsed, sliced if desired
3-4 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
(or 1 quart canned tomatoes and their juice)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Cook until the onions are tender and turning golden. Add the okra and tomatoes along with their juice. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 25 minutes, until the okra is very tender. Add salt and pepper.