Tuesday, April 2, 2013

bones and water

I'm just sitting down to some lunch on this second day after the third day after, but tonight's supper is already bubbling away on the stove. The scrap and bones and gristly bits of our Easter ham* found their way to the stock pot Sunday evening, and while we walked and watched a movie and enjoyed dessert, the gently bubbling water extracted all the best things left in these unwanted bits.

Just now, while waiting for lunch to warm up, I skimmed the fat and scooped what bits were left into the kitchen compost. The stock is beautiful: slightly viscous when still cold from the fridge, richly brown, and wonderfully aromatic as it warms. Now it's gently bubbling again, but instead of detritus, I've added nutritus. Those little tiny bubbles, so small yet so powerful, will break down the split peas, cubed potato, and grated carrots into delicious soup that even Anna, the Queen of Hating Food Mom Likes, will eat with gusto.

There's a metaphor in there somewhere. I can almost taste it.

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* We cooked a fresh ham for Easter for the first time this year, and the ratio of edible to less than edible was not what I expected. I'm not sure if this is the nature of real, uncured ham and the usual stuff in the grocery store is processed into just the right amount of bone in mostly meat or if this is a cruel joke the processors play. "Ha, you want it natural, uncured, and without additives. Here you go. Have your natural. Bwah-ha-ha."
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Kate and Anna's laissez-faire split-pea soup

1.5 - 2 quarts ham stock (if you've leftovers from a bone-in ham, simmer the bits in 2 quarts of water uncovered for three hours or so, chill overnight, skim the fat from the top, scoop out the bone and bits)
1 pint split peas
2 potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 carrots, grated
pepper to taste
bay leaf 

Combine ingredients in stock pot. Bring to simmer. Simmer uncovered 3 hours or more, stirring occasionally. You can eat the soup as soon as the peas are tender to the tooth (maybe 45 minutes), but it will be more delicious and wonderful if you let the bubbles do their thing until it all just turns to mush.

Nice served with a dollop of sour cream in the middle of the bowl, freshly ground pepper on the top, and biscuits or soda bread on the side.

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