Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Split Pea Soup with Ham Croutons

There are very few foods I don't like. In fact, once when the kids were staying with my in-laws, and my poor mother-in-law was trying to find something they'd eat (not an easy task!), Brack told her, "My mommy eats every yucky thing!". Yucky was his word - not mine. But it's true. There's little I don't eat. 

My list of things I don't like is short - liver and canned English peas. It used to also contain beets, but my daddy talked me into trying a pickled one once, and now I keep a jar in my fridge. But liver and canned peas - I see them remaining on the list. For quite a while.

That's why it's really ironic that I like this soup. But I do. A lot. And I think you will, too!

Split Pea Soup with Ham Croutons

Begin by dicing a medium onion. Saute it in a tablespoon of EVOO until it is translucent. I have a Dutch oven that's perfect for all my soups, but you could use a big saucepan. Right before they're done, add a couple of cloves of minced garlic.  

Remove to a bowl. Leave any EVOO in the bottom of the Dutch oven.

My mother had us all over to their house last Sunday for my birthday lunch. I chose ham, broccoli and rice casserole, pineapple and cheese casserole, and lima beans. Mama sent some of the leftover ham home with me. I stuck it in the freezer for a couple of days until I knew what I wanted to do with it.

I diced it into about 1/2" cubes.

I added it to the Dutch oven, along with about a teaspoon of EVOO and cooked it over medium until it got a little color on it. I removed it to a bowl and let it cool. Be sure to leave all those yummy brown bits in the bottom of the pan. They add lots of flavor!

I turned the heat up to high and poured in a 32 oz. box of low sodium chicken broth. As soon as that liquid hit the pot, all those little brown pieces let loose and swam around in the broth. Ummm...

Next I added two bags of thawed frozen green peas. (I set them out about 30 minutes before starting the soup to let them thaw. It doesn't take long.)

I added back the onions and garlic and also dropped in one piece of raw bacon. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for twenty minutes.

While all this was happening, I let one cup of heavy cream come to room temp. (I usually substitute half and half for heavy cream, but I had some in the fridge, and I really think it made the difference in this simple, fresh soup.)

After twenty minutes, remove the piece of bacon.

I then used my immersion blender to process the peas and onions. I tried to get it as smooth as possible. It will thicken as you blend it, but if for some reason it is still a little thin, you can mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a teaspoon of water. Mix well and stir in to thicken. Repeat if necessary.

Add the room temperature heavy cream...

and stir.

I sprinkled the soup with the "ham croutons" which made it a little more of a meal. I also baked a package of crescent rolls.

This was really, really good. I have craved soups this winter with all the rain we've had. Plus, with us trying to eat a little healthier, I'm always looking for ways to get in more veggies. Yes, it has heavy cream in it, but considering this recipe serves 4-8 depending on how big a bowl you use, it's not that bad!

There'll be no hiding peas under your plate with this recipe!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Wooden Shoe" like to see what I found at the flea market?

I made a quick stop at the Adullum House Thrift Shop in Wetumpka the other day and came out with quite a haul! I thought I'd share with you what I found.

First of all - check out those wooden shoes. Love them! I paid $5 which is more than I would usually pay for anything, but they are so unusual. They have the word "Volendam" carved in them, which I googled and found out is a city in Holland. 

I'm currently working on redoing my home office. I hope to share it with you soon. It's going to have a very eclectic and travelled feel to it. The shoes will look great on my new bookshelf.

Next, I found this pretty working clock. $4! Even had good batteries in it! It's going to go in my home office, I think.

I don't know exactly what this is or what I'll do with it, but it's a "tray" of sorts and it was $1. I figure I could always line it with mason jars and fill them with something.

I'm amassing quite a collection of clear glass plates. My aunt started my collection when she gave me about twenty of them a few years ago. These are great for all my parties. They're not too big and they allow whatever I'm using for the tablescape to shine through. These were .25 cents each. There are eleven of them. Granted, I don't think they've been washed in several years, but they've cleaned up nicely. It did take more than a run through the dishwasher, but I'll show you what I did in a future post. BTW - that was $2.75 for eleven plates.

Each of these pretty vases/urns were $2 each. I was thinking mainly about using the red one for Valentine's Day and both at Christmas. They're both really nice pieces.

This thingy here hangs on the wall and has room to hold potted plants or something of the like. It was $1! The most exciting thing is that is was naturally aged and distressed. I usually have to put in a little elbow grease to make things look like this. This time, I actually had to work to clean it up a little!

This pretty candlestick was also $1. Even though it has a little repaired crack on the neck, the blue and green colors are very rich and go beautifully with other pieces in my living room. 

These two items I found at Goodwill. I have to be honest and say that I generally never find anything at our local Goodwill store. But it's right across the street from Faulkner, and Brack and I had a little time to kill the other night before meeting Gerald, so I ran in to see what they might have. 

The perfume bottle is vintage and was $1.99. It will go in my guest bedroom with all my "old" stuff.

The little plate has a mosaic motif and is made of brass. Very unusual and looks like something you'd see in the Middle East. It was .59 cents! It will look great in the office, too.

Well - I hope you enjoyed seeing what I picked up at the thrift store. I try to drop in when I can, as things come and go quickly. There's a lot to be found if you're willing to dig a little!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Homemade Belgian Waffles


Jewell had a half dozen of her homeschool co-op buddies over for a sleepover last night. Yes, I'm aware that I have (on more than one occasion) sworn to never have more a couple at a time. And, yes, I know that I've had six or more twice now in the last month! But, alas, the kids are growing up and actually need less supervision these days. Plus, all these girls are so well behaved...I didn't have a single problem with any of them!

I did take a pass on making a big dinner since we were at co-op all day yesterday. Instead, Gerald picked up pizza on the way home. The girls were anxiously awaiting his arrival! He barely made it in the door before being mobbed.

Mainly they hung out in Jewell's room. We usually have glow sticks left over from our Halloween party. Jewell took them and hooked them around her ceiling fan blades and made her own disco ball! This picture was actually taken in the dark. I had no idea what they'd be doing when the flash went off!

They did venture out again for more food. Jewell has become a master at making PaPaw's midnight snacks. These sweet and salty creations were invented by my daddy when we were little. They're a family favorite. You can get the recipe here.

Surprisingly, the girls were up by about 8:00 am. I asked them what they wanted for breakfast and got several requests, so I decided to do scrambled eggs, homemade Belgian waffles and bacon. Gerald didn't hunt this morning, so I got him to handle the bacon. That left my hands free for everything else!

Belgian Waffles

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1stick butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla

I began by melting a stick of butter over medium heat. When it was about halfway melted, I pulled it of the heat. It continued to melt, but cooled as well. Preheat your waffle maker.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and baking powder. Set aside.

Lightly beat the two egg yolks.

Add milk, vanilla and then the melted but cooled butter.

Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients.

Add wet to dry and mix until combined. Make sure to break up any large lumps.

Beat the two egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This took me about five minutes on medium speed with my hand mixer.

Add whites to batter.

Fold in gently. Don't worry about those puffs of egg whites. They'll make the waffles nice and fluffy. Just fold in until there are no white streaks.

Spray the waffle maker (top and bottom) and using a 1/3 cup measuring spoon, add batter to each section. (Make sure to respray each time before adding more batter.) Lower the lid and set a timer for 4 1/2 minutes. This recipe will make about a dozen.

Each machine is different, so you're going to have to figure out how long it takes in your machine. I don't like them to get too brown. Here's why...when they come out of the waffle maker, they're pretty soft - almost like pancakes. Some people like them that way. I like to let them cool as I make more, then I pop mine into a toaster to get it brown and crispy. Any leftovers (only one this morning!) I drop into a Ziploc freezer bag and then just pop it into the toaster when the kids want one.

These are sooooo much better than the ones you buy! Trust me. You MUST try this recipe!

There was very little talking this morning. Not because they weren't awake, either. They were busy!

I had already cut into mine before I remembered to take a picture! I served fresh fruit on the side.

These are such a great bunch of girls! I'm so glad Jewell has such sweet friends! And the beautiful thing is - their mamas are my best buddies, too!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Go Set a Watchman" Book Club Meeting

I recently hosted my book club as we discussed the book "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee. It fell close on the heels of the holidays, and our number was a little down. But I must say we had probably the best discussion we've ever had!

The book called for Southern fare, so I attempted to channel my inner Aunt Alexandra to determine what she'd serve to her Missions Society ladies in the 1960's. I think I came close!

No Southern hostess (worth her salt) would fail to serve pimento cheese. I love it with these organic whole grain crackers from Costco and red pepper jelly. 

Who doesn't love meatballs made with grape jelly and barbeque sauce? I dumped a bag of frozen all-beef Italian-style meatballs in my crock pot on low with one bottle of each and four hours later, Voila!

Every good Southern cook has her own favorite recipe for deviled eggs. Mine includes sweet pickle relish and a squirt of yellow mustard. 

I pulled out my greatgrandmother's relish dish for the pickled beets, pickled okra and pickled pickles! (Those are made with Mama's recipe. They're simple and addictive. I always have some in the fridge.)

I served it all on my wedding china, because Alexandra would only use her best things, plus - my friends are worth it!

We had a fantastic discussion. No - it's probably not destined to be a classic on the scale of "To Kill A Mockingbird", but it's worth reading. I find it fascinating that one woman could have written both books - so different - yet dealing with the same topics - so close together. What do you think?

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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