. . .
It is done. I graduated from baking school – with honours. I didn’t even fall off the stage. And for the first time in months, I’ve got time to do stuff. It has been an adjustment; I mostly sit around and make lists of stuff I should do, and then wander aimlessly doing other stuff. On the plus side, I’ve had a lot more time to enjoy all that is 2.0. The other night, for example, he came home from work and cheerfully exclaimed, “there’s a two ton hairball at work! They’re cutting it apart with chainsaws because it’s too heavy to lift!”
(This is why I’ll never be a famous food blogger. You’re not supposed to write about hairballs.)
2.0 once turned to me and said, “of all the cats, I think effie would have the best handwriting,” and then waited expectantly for me to concur.
Another time, as we stood weeding in the garden, I heard him yell, “this tastes bad… real bad!” And then saw him slurping back the stem juices of a potentially poisonous perennial.
It’s what we do, this to and fro. He’ll look and me and say, “I AM the boss of you… right? Honey? RIGHT?” And when I put my hands on my hips and stare at him, I’ll hear him whimper, “but WHY can’t I be the boss of you?”
I really want to say that people who eat our perennials don’t get to be boss, but I doubt it would make any difference.
That said, 2.0 is delightfully helpful, and will always go above and beyond to assist around the house.
movita: That bathroom has been cleaned for the guests.
2.0: That’s okay, honey, I’ll go outside.
movita: Or use the upstairs bathroom?
2.0: I guess…
On the weekend, I put flannel sheets back on the bed for 2.0 and I. It has been cold here, and I wouldn’t want my little helper to get chilled at night. Soon enough, we’ll be complaining about the sort of humidity that makes you want to rest facedown on the floor all day. In the meantime, we’ve been eating comfort food – most comforting is the fact that I’ve got time to cook in my own kitchen again.
This soup will warm your bones. It is smoky and nourishing. It will take the chill off cool nights. It will give you all the energy required to write lists of the things you should be doing, but would rather not.
. . .
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 3/4 cups dried yellow split peas
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 cups water
- 1 kilogram (2 lb.) smoked ham hock, skinned
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
- there is no salt in this recipe – the ham hock does a nice job of seasoning this soup. If you feel the soup requires salt, add a pinch when you are stirring in the balsamic vinegar
- you could use a smaller ham hock, but I wouldn’t go any larger in order to ensure that the meat cooks through and is well submerged in the soup as it cooks
- the balsamic vinegar is optional – I find it brightens and rounds out the soup
Mise en place – begin by getting organized. Measure out all of your ingredients. Dice your veggies, skin the ham hock (use a very sharp knife and watch your fingers).
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then cook the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened. (About 10 minutes.)
Stir in the split peas, bay leaves, thyme and pepper, stirring constantly for 2 minutes (be careful, the peas like to snap when they get hot – don’t leave unattended). Add the water and ham hock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very soft and the soup is thickened – about 2 hours. (The peas will become mushy – almost like a puréed soup without the need for a blender.) Flip the ham hock occasionally to ensure it cooks through on all sides.
Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the ham hock to a cutting board and let cool enough to handle. Remove all meat from the bone, dice, and return it to the soup to heat through. Discard the bone and any fat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.