Thursday, November 29, 2007
Stress + Split Pea
When you're trying to write a new book, you tend to spend a good part of the day on the Perez Hilton website, catching up on who is in detox this week, what hijinx Britney has gotten into, rather than focusing your thoughts and energy on the empty Word manuscript minimized waaaaayy down in the corner of your screen. Well, that's the case for me, at least; I ask you faithful reader, who can write a new book with juicy celebrity gossip just a mouse click away!?!! I exaggerate, of course, but I am definitely not feeling the love when it comes to writing these days. First off, I'm woefully ill-prepared for the impending holiday season (how in the world does December come around so quickly?...it was JUST January!). And I'm confident in a way that only a Type A daughter can be, that my mother finished her shopping in May, and meanwhile, I have not taxed a single gift-buying brain cell. I also find myself at the frenetic nexus of deadlined projects, outdated web logs, and sleep-sapping TV spots, all while trying to be the perfect "Welcome Home, Dear...here's your scotch and soda" housewife, rather than the head-spinning, Linda Blair-esque possessed demon I feel like (ok, so maybe that part is a bit of a fabrication--Jerry drinks wine, not scotch--but I'm trying to make a point here).
And so today I made an agreement with myself to stop stressing over stress. For the next month, I am going to write, but not to the point that I don't get out of my pajama's, brush my teeth, or shower; it took me three years to do the first book, so the second one can wait a bit. And I am going to cook nice dinners for my equally harried hubby, but they'll be simple, comfort foods that are easy to throw together, and make for good leftovers (there is a pot of hearty vegetable split pea soup simmering on the stove as I type, and no, not because I mentioned Linda Blair in paragraph one). As for the Christmas shopping, 2007 might mean gift certificates for everyone I know to their favorite restaurant or shop, as there is no shame in giving people what they actually like, as opposed to what you hope they'll like. I wish I could promise that I won't stay up late to get a few special crafts done between now and 12/25, but the Type A in me knows all too well that some things are simply impossible to change.
SUZANNE'S SPLIT PEA SOUP
I love this recipe because it's ridiculously easy, incredibly satisfying, and loaded with good, healthy stuff.
1 49 oz can chicken stock (one of those large, grocery bag-stressing cans)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 16-oz bag split peas
16 0z. diced ham (4 cups, or two of those little bags)
4-6 yellow or red potatoes, diced (don't bother peeling)
2-3 large carrots, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" 'coins'
Salt + Pepper (if needed)
Place chicken stock, onion and garlic in a stockpot. Add an additional 8 cups of water to the mixture and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for about 3o minutes. Add potatoes and carrots, and continue cooking until the peas are soft and mushy, soup is thick and creamy (another 30 - 60 minutes). If the soup becomes too thick, just add a bit more water or stock. Season with salt and pepper if desired (the ham is salty, so taste it first), and serve soup in big bowls, with crusty bread on the side.
This makes a big pot that will easily serve six.
PS. If you don't eat ham, you can still enjoy this soup. Just use all chicken or vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and water, and add a handful or two of chopped celery to the brew; you won't miss the meat at all.