Well, Black My Eyes!

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This post might not make sense to you if you’re not from the South, but I had a near calamity today.  I had a taste for black eye peas, so I got my trusty cast iron pot out and started washing peas.  Bud made a pass through and nearly swooned with happiness when he saw how lovely I looked washing peas next to the garlic, celery, and onion waiting on the chopping block.  There would be unhappiness in our home this evening if no peas and ham were forthcoming.  After seasoning and starting the peas, I went to the freezer to find the meaty ham bone I’d squirreled back a couple of weeks ago. Ham bones are a gift of nature.  I even knew a family who nicknamed their son Ham Bone.   I think to a Southern Cook, the ham bone is more important than the ham itself, a delicacy to be hidden from nosey freezer plunderers at all costs.  In fact, I have been known to threaten bodily harm when a home-wrecking guest asked Bud, not me for the ham boneafter a meal.  I put a stop to that hussy then and there!

At any rate, the precious ham bone must be retrieved at the perfect point of denuding.  Too much meat on the bone is wasteful.  Too little just leaves the pea soup a bit anemic. I knew I had the most darling ham bone hidden away in the freezer awaiting its rendezvous with my peas.  I reached in the freezer for my ham bone  and found………..nothing!  Well, actually I found ground beef and pork, chicken parts of various types, several kinds of sausage, vegetables and fruit a plenty, but no ham bone. I panicked.  Earlier in the week, I’d asked Bud to get the frozen meat trimmings and scraps to the trash.  God forbid?  Had he mistaken my foil-wrapped ham bone  for scraps. Worse yet, had he sneaked it out to another woman? I was almost too shattered to look, but finally found my ham bone shoved to the back of the bottom shelf behind a bag of ice.  Never has a ham bone been so welcome.  The peas breathed a sigh of relief when I dropped the bone in.

Our marriage was saved.

2 1/2 cups black eyed peas
8 cups water
1/2 tablespoon salt or more to taste
1/4 tablespoon black pepper
1 medium onion (whole)

1/4 c diced celery if desired
Nice ham bone 

1/4 teaspoon vinegar (or pepper sauce)

Simmer all ingredients in large cooking pot on stove top burner on medium heat. Use cast-iron pot if you have one.

Cook 40-60 minutes or until peas are tender. Do not allow water to evaporate entirely. If peas are dry they will burn quickly.

Serve with hot cornbread.  It is against the law to throw the pea soup out.  Have it for lunch tomorrow is ver cornbread.

Chicken Soup, Good for What Ails You

imageMother has a cold, so I have a pot of homemade chicken soup to take as soon as it gets done. Some of my warmest memories are of days I was sick enough to stay home from school and be coddled by Mother all day. The very best part was having her all to myself. I loved having her spread one of Grandma’s quilt over the sofa, putting a pillow at the end, and draping the warm quilt over me. If it was winter, she’d warm the quilt in front of the fire before wrapping me in it. It was heavenly. I loved her settling me on the sofa with a tray for meals. When she had time, she’d read to me. When she was busy, I enjoyed my books and toys on my own. I frequently called out for a delivery of fresh books or drink, till I’d worn out my “sick credit” with her. Best of all was the envy of the other kids when Mother reminded them, “Leave her alone. She is sick.”
A few times I was able to convince Mother I was sick when I wasn’t. One day, I waved at Phyllis getting on the bus and foolishly slipped out to play as soon as the bus ran. Mother hustled me down to the corner to catch the bus at the next stop. It wasn’t long till I had to produce fever or throw up to get the chance to miss school. I broke the thermometer once holding it near to fire to simulate a fever. All the got me was a warm bottom. Thermometers don’t grow on trees.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
One quart deboned chicken
One quart chicken broth
Large can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 to 1 ½ cup vegetables (today I tossed in diced turnips, potatoes, and carrots)
3 TBS parsley
2 cloves garlic or to tast
I large diced onion
3 TBS chives
2 TBS oregana
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
I use fresh herbs and vegetables but frozen will do
½ lb noodles, fresh, frozen, or dried. You may want more for thicker soup. Add with caution or it may get too thick and stick.
Simmer chicken, broth, herbs, vegetables, and cream of chicken soup. Reduce to simmer and add noodles, stirring constantly for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes I simmer much longer. Serve with crackers or cornbread and butter.

Dutch-Oven Cooking and Table Idea

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Bud built this Dutch-oven cooking table out of an old aluminum toolbox, table legs from Home Depot and old piano hinges. Total cost $25 for table legs.  So far it has supported more than 500 lbs.  I only bought two of the Dutch-ovens new.  Total cost probably less than $200.  It folds flat with a handle on back for easy carry.

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Pictured above scalloped potatoes, peach pulled pork, and peach cobbler.