old-fashioned new cocktail
More gin tales

nella cucina di mamma

I was in such a bad mood yesterday. Well, all week. And people just grew more and more tiresome, which made it seem worse. But then I got a few groceries, including two chicken breast halves for 1.49/lb.  You can make quick(er) stock with those than with a whole chicken if you need to. I mean, of course, the breasts that still have the bones in. Don't make stock with no bones. It's got no soul, for one thing. And etc., but that's for another post or Google, if you like.

Here are three photos I took of preparing to cook, because I realized it was just what I needed to find a better frame of mind. For the past few days, I've just been cooking to feed, but yesterday I cooked with pleasure to feed with pleasure.

I didn't add carrots and celery tops to my stock; instead I used some organic (since I didn't get it from my own garden) rosemary, thyme, and sage. And an onion, garlic, and peppercorns. It cooked  for only an hour, but then I had lots of beautiful tender breast meat I can use for something today.


There's at least 4 cups of meat there.

So then I went to work making split-pea soup. Now, I make that for a lot of people. And I never make it precisely the same way twice. But you can do this, generally, in half quantities, and it will be nice.

14 cups of broth and/or water My quick stock came to 10 cups, so I add 4 of water.

2 lbs split peas. You can add yellow ones, okay by me.

1.5 lbs boneless ham. (Usually I start with a smoked ham hock or two, but the store had only ginormous packages of them, for some reason. It was hardly economical since I wanted some ham as well.)


1-2 cups chopped carrots
. If you have celery, add some of that so that it's about 2 cups total. The tops are nice and peppery-tasting, but you want to chop them well.

An onion and plenty of garlic


A spoonful of mixed dried Italian seasoning with no salt (My mama would say, "a nice amount of it.") Because it's winter and nothing grows well inside here. If you have fresh, go for it. Oregano or marjoram, thyme, etc., but add them late in the game instead of how I do it below.

Lots of pepper, and some sea salt, depending on your ham. Check near the end of cooking.

I chop the onions and garlic in the food processor so my youngest daughter (19) won't complain the onions are in the way (but I'd prefer very thin slices,) soften them briefly with the dried seasoning in a tablespoon of butter inside a large pot, then add the liquid and other ingredients. Bring to a boil, simmer and stir every few minutes for about an hour and a half. Add more pepper as you like and check for salt.


If you use a smoked ham hock or two, take it out after about an hour and pull the meat off the bone, then put it back in. You can add a little ham to it then, if you like.

And serve it with cornbread! Here's a VERY casual presentation because I was in the middle of other things.

By the way, I've rarely had homemade cornbread that was better, at least in soup and things, than the Jiffy mix. It's like 35 cents a box and you can add stuff to it if you want to. I use two boxes and usually bake it in a 13x9 cake pan. You can crumble it up for lovely stuffing/dressing, as well.

While the soup was simmering, I made cookies. I wanted to make a pie or cobbler, but was a bit low on fruit. So, cookies. I'd been promising chocolate chip lately but there weren't many left! (The trend you sense is that *today* is restocking pantry/freezer day.)

That's a 3 lb bag, by the way. So anyway, to make up for the lack of chips, I added coconut. If it were all up to me, I'd have added finely chopped walnuts as well, but a couple people here prefer for that to be a rare addition. And the coconut was a good idea, as it turns out. They are a nice balance of crispy and chewy.

A couple more things; you may have notice the trend in food blogs to show a photo of every. step. of. the. process. I think they're just in love with their pretty photos. But you know what eggs in a bowl look like by now. However, this was all about making me feel more happy, so here are a couple more things I love. :-)

I don't know how much brown sugar this is; I think maybe 3 lbs. The container holds 5 lbs of flour. I LOVE having lots of fresh brown sugar. My mom cooked and baked a lot, too, but I seem to recall there always being insufficient, dried-out brown sugar in her canister when I wanted it for my oatmeal.

Whirring dough in my magical machine! And lots and lots of lovely vanilla.

Well, and here's my little table where only I sit, for happy cooking mama time.