Split Pea Soup - that’s what I remember growing up, and when I started cooking, it’s what I made. Dry peas, soaked (sometimes overnight), and then soup. I like pea soup, but was never a fan of all the soaking and waiting.
And then I discovered pea soup with frozen peas—delightful.
No soaking, so it’s ready in a flash. And it’s a brilliant green, unlike the dull green that results from the dry split peas.
I think the frozen peas give the soup a fresher flavor, but it remains a point of discussion in my household. The traditional, familiar split pea soup is still favored by some.
Here's a recipe:
Martha Stewart's Green-Pea Soup with Cheddar-Scallion Panini
This is a Calendar of Days post: Homemade Soup Day
The ground is frozen and snow covered here in Maine and today is Seed Swap Day. It’s a reminder that the lush green landscape will return, the flowers will blossom and once again we can till the earth.
These flowers are from the summer garden, imagine.
This is a Calendar of Days post.
Ever since listening to The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, I’ve been drawn to quilts and quilt patterns. I’m not interested in sewing quilts, just the patterns. Not floral patterns, but geometric patterns. To satisfy my interest, I’ve borrowed lots of books from the library, and my favorite to date is the first one I selected: The Quilts of Gee’s Bend
The book chronicles the work of a community of African-American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and their more than two-hundred year tradition of quilt making. It was the first quilting book I looked at after finishing The Invention of Wings and it inspired the drawing below.
When I pulled the image above from the archives for today’s post (Puzzle Day), I considered using it to represent the concept in two ways:
1) The arrangement. It was a bit of a puzzle to position the utensils as they are, and
2) Putting together a collection can be puzzling, what belongs, what doesn’t?
This is a Calendar of Days post: National Puzzle Day
We were young twenty-somethings, just settled in a new apartment when a large box arrived—an unexpected box. It was a gift from my husband’s grandparents who had just returned from a trip back to Ireland, the country they had both emigrated from years before.
Inside we found a lovely tea set.
To say we were delighted and surprised would be an understatement. We were at the time, living together, unmarried, with no nuptials planned anytime soon. It was, it seemed, a blessing of sorts.
A sign that they had faith in our union?
Perhaps, though its first service would be steeped in panic, sweetened with kindness and humor.
It was soon after receiving the box that we received word that “Big” Nan was coming to visit my husband’s parents. Nan stood nearly 5’3”, petite and utterly charming. Her Irish brogue as sweet as the apple crisp I would present at our first tea service.
Upon hearing the news I suggested we invite Nan for tea. And yes, my husband agreed. He promised to call his mother and arrange a date. But there was no rush, Nan would be visiting for nearly a week, plenty of time to make arrangements.
Or so we thought.
It was Friday, late afternoon when the call came. “Nan and I want to stop by for a visit,” my mother-in-law said, “and we’re on our way.”
What? I couldn’t refuse them, but I was alone. Their son/grandson had just left. Ten minutes earlier he jumped into the passenger seat of his buddy’s 1970s AMC Javelin and pulled away. This was before cell phones. No way to get in touch, no way to bring him back.
I was on my own. And if nothing else, I had to serve tea.
With a 20-minute window to pull things together I peeled a few apples, spread them in a baking dish, dotted them with butter and brown sugar and turned the oven on. Though I’ve overcome my early shyness, this was a stretch for me. I was nervous.
Stumbling through my first tea service, I forgot to put out forks for the apple crisp, only recognizing my omission when I saw sweet little Nan politely eating her dessert with one of the souvenir spoons I had laid out for stirring our tea.
Oh, we laughed, and they gushed over the dessert, the apartment, and how nice it was to visit. Their kindness soothing my nerves.
It was a lovely visit.
And then they, too, pulled away . . . 10 minutes before the return of my Irish sweetheart.
This is a Calendar of Days post.
Oatmeal: Like it or lump it?
Guest Post by Lisa Parker, Cakes for All Seasons
Lumpy oatmeal, with plenty of butter, a dash of crunchy kosher salt, heavy cream and brown sugar. That’s what I’d like my last breakfast on earth to be. In the meantime, I’ll settle for lumpy oatmeal with plain yogurt.
Why lumpy, you ask?
Well, when my parents were courting, my father was an Air Force pilot stationed at Loring Air Base in northern Maine. My mom’s family lived on a potato farm not far from the base. When dad got off duty, he would often stop by the farm very early in the morning and have breakfast with my grandparents. Gram made lumpy oatmeal that he adored. When mom came downstairs, ready to leave for work, Gram would announce that “Bill came by for breakfast.” I always loved that story.
My other favorite way to eat oatmeal is, of course, in cookies.
I have a recipe for chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal in it that I’ve made over the years with golden raisins, cranberries, nuts and toasted coconut. Adapted from a wonderful little cookbook called Diner Desserts by Tish Boyle, it is my go-to recipe for big, yummy cookies.
Lisa Mae’s Kitchen Sink Oatmeal Cookies
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
brown sugar, firmly packed - 1 1/3 cups (10 oz)
granulated sugar - 1/3 cup (2.3 oz)
unsalted butter - 1 cup (8 oz)
salt - 3/4 tsp
eggs, large - 2
vanilla extract - 1 T
all purpose flour - 1 3/4 cups (8.75 oz)
baking soda, - 1/2 tsp
baking powder - 1/2 tsp
rolled oats (not instant) - 2 cups (6 oz)
Kitchen sink options:
2 1/2 cups (12 oz) or more of any combination of the following:
chocolate chips, white chocolate chunks, dried cranberries, raisins, toasted nuts, toasted coconut, dried cherries, chopped apricots, or replace some or all of the oatmeal with your favorite granola, you get the idea!
Cream the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the salt here to make sure it’s mixed in really well. I use kosher salt because I like the little crunch it gives when you bite into it.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, mixing well after each egg is added. I use pure vanilla extract. My current favorite is Mexican vanilla. It smells like heaven and adds a rich, creamy flavor.
Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and oatmeal. I sift in the baking soda because it’s often lumpy and doesn’t always mix in well. My tiny strainer is perfect for this.I weigh my flour. If you don’t have a scale, use the “dip and sweep” method presented by Dédé Wilson of Bakepedia.com.
If you put the oatmeal in last, it helps keep the flour from making a dusty mess. You can also put your “kitchen sink” additions in here. Mix until everything is uniform. The more you mix, the tougher your cookies will be so don’t over mix. Dump the dough out onto the counter to make sure there aren’t any globs of butter and sugar at the bottom of the bowl. If there are, mix them in by hand until it’s a uniform mass.
Now that the dough is mixed, it’s time to scoop. My favorite kitchen tools are my assorted sized scoops. They make uniform cookies, pancakes and muffins. Since I sell my baked goods, I make notes on the yields of recipes using different sized scoops so I can accurately price my desserts.
Cookie recipes often instruct you to chill the dough for at least an hour and then scoop. It’s so much easier to scoop the dough when it’s soft then chill the portions. Put the scoops on a tray, close together. Once they are firm, you can wrap them up in packages, label and freeze for another time.
To bake, pre-heat the oven to 350F, and place the dough portions on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper leaving room between them to spread.
If the dough is just out of the freezer, allow it to warm up to room temp. If just out of the fridge, allow to sit out while the oven pre-heats. Flatten the dough balls with the palm of your hand.
Bake until they are as done as you like them! I bake mine for 12-15 minutes depending on the size of the dough ball. I like a big cookie, soft in the middle, just baked through. If you you like them crisp, pull them out of the oven halfway through, flatten them some more with a metal spatula and return to the oven to finish baking.
Cool and enjoy!
If you don’t eat them all right away, put in an airtight container. Adding a crust of bread to the container will help keep the cookies from going stale.
Lisa Parker has been playing with desserts for years. After 20 years of baking desserts and playing with cake, she attended the French Pastry School in Chicago and graduated, with honors, from the L'Art Gateau program. She creates “delicious, joyous cakes and desserts” for wedding couples, party planners, and party goers in southern and coastal Maine, southern New Hampshire, and the Mt. Washington Valley.
Lisa can be found at Cakes for All Seasons where she says, “Let’s meet, I’ll bring the treats!”
Today is Make Your Bed Day.
If you're wondering whether or not it's worth it, listen to Admiral McRaven's reasons why it's a good idea. It's a short and amusing video.
And yes, I do make my bed. It started when my grandparents moved from Chicago to live downstairs from us in a new two-family home on the east coast. One day my sister and I came home from school to find our beds with new sheets, pillows, and blankets. It was particularly noticeable because at that point we NEVER made our beds. What a wonderful surprise. I was so smitten with the new look of my bed (and my Grandmother's sweet gift) I was proud to make it every day.
Even today, when I change the sheets, I think of my Grandmother . . . thanks Grandma!
Do you make your bed? Tell us why in the comments below.
Here's your calendar for the week ahead. What will you do this week?