Pea Soup & Fast Bread

I keep seeing baked spiral hams all over the place.  Not something we ever have; probably because a certain family member (Miss Ruth to be exact) totally freaks at the thought of anything ham.  She was traumatized as a younger person when we went to a dinner party for Christmas and they served a tiny, little piggy with an apple in it’s mouth.  It was a bad scene.  We never really ate ham again, she because of the obvious, me because when I think ham I can see Ruth’s huge eyes with those big, crocodile tears streaming down her face.  The look of hurt and sadness did it for me.  Who would know?  We were guests, had no idea what was happening for the Menu.  It was a large crowd.  So, that’s my ham story.

I was lured in though recently and I thought what the heck, it’s only Paul and I here.  It was fine straight up as a warmed ham with homemade baked beans.  Then it was fine as sandwiches forever.  Then it became Mac & Cheese w/Ham; eggs & ham frittata, it went on and one…..one tiny 1/4 ham.  Finally I figured since I was eating the “forbidden fruit” I may as well try and make a pea soup.

Pea Soup is my trauma in life.  The source is not as distinct as Ruth’s suffice to say I hate it and have always thought it was beyond disgusting, even the smell.  Before I even had time to think about it I bought the dried yellow split peas, followed the bags directions – pretty simple, onions, carrots, dried peas, water…….I added the ham bone (still lots of meat on it) then added chicken stock as it kept reducing.  The ham bone (stop reading NOW Ruth) had a lot of marrow I suppose as the soup kept getting thicker….really nice.  We had that for about 4 lunches and a few dinners.  It surprised me how yummy it was.  The smell was familiar but I talked myself out of it.  Funny how that works.

This morning retired what you see to the freezer.  We are about done on that one and today, on tap, making a Haddock & Salmon Chowder so enough is enough.  Yesterday I made the bread to go with it.  I’ve posted this bread before; it’s ever changing.  Seriously if you have always wanted to make bread but don’t want to deal with the kneading and what not, this is the way to go.

Around 9 a.m. decided I wanted to make this as I noticed we had nothing to eat with the soup.  Mixed it up, big whoop – all of about 5 minutes max.  Put it in the buttered loaf tin, covered with a damp cloth.  Took doggie for the walk, gone an hour.  When I came home turned the oven on 350, popped it in and baked for 45 minutes.  When it came out of the oven gave it a once over with a stick of butter to moisten the top while still hot.  Waited 10 minutes for it to cool a bit and turned out on a wooden board to cool.  That’s it.  Fabulous, fast, easy bread.  The cool part is you can put anything you want in it – just do the basic part then keep adding cool stuff.

pea soup

Heidi Swanson’s Easy Little Bread Recipe w/my additions which change frequently

This is double the recipe as I make one long loaf in this funny extra long bread pan.  Otherwise use to normal pans.  Butter or oil the pans in prep.  Oven on 350.

2.5 C. Warm water

4 Tsp. yeast

2 Tbs. Agave or Honey

2 C. White Flour

2 C. Whole Wheat Flour (I use just whole wheat – 4 C.)

2 C. Oats (I’m looking for an alternative to this as oats bother my stomach and I don’t like the appearance in the bread (see those white things?)

3 tsp. salt

Sprinkle yeast on warm water, add hone and let sit while you gather the rest of the things.

In a large bowl add your flours and salt.  This is when I add usually at least 1/2 C. chopped walnuts, this time I added a handful of black sesame seeds and a handful of poppy seeds and a small handful of carmalized sliced almonds.  Lots of stuff in that bowl.

Make a well in the center, add your liquids, blend well with the spoon and then pour into the bread pan.  It won’t pour – it will kind of be like soft cookie dough.

Cover with the damp cloth and go for a walk or let it rise an hour or longer if you want – I’ve let it go for 3 hrs. before.

Great bread…..I’m thinking coconut next time, rice something instead of oats?  I need an easier grain, not another flour.

Christmas is fast approaching.  Paul and I are working on the spirit….I had a glass of warm Egg Nog with rum in it last night (per my friend Artie)…..magic, I felt so much better so I had another.  Paul had this weird concoction of equal parts tequila, orange pelligrino spritzer stuff and plain soda water.  It was too alcoholic for me so he drank both….duh, we were asleep by 7 and up reading at 2 a.m.  But, it was o.k.

Today we’re going to a Christmas singing concert with various Christmas story readings.  I think it will be great.  Some of my favorite people are singing in it so that is always nice to see and hear.

Making starters for my Stollen gift giving tomorrow.  I used to make them for the entire neighborhood but somehow it just faded as the years went by and the neighbors changed.  As I have not met one of my neighbors, he’s new…..he’s been here what 5 years or so and I’ve never met him.  What’s that about?????   Tomorrow I’ll be delivering him a Stollen; first person on my list!  These things are awesome as french toast on Christmas morning.  I’ll take pictures.

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