Split Pea Soup Recipe

A couple weeks ago, spiral hams were on a ridiculous sale, so I bought one and we had a lovely, decadent dinner, with ham and mashed potatoes and rolls and applesauce. We also had enough ham left over for a second dinner, plus meat for lots of sandwiches, and a ham bone to freeze for soup. I made our favorite, split pea soup.

1 pound of split peas
2 quarts water
Ham bone
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme

Rinse peas and pick through and remove any stones.

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Simmer for 2 hours, adding water if necessary.

Remove the ham bone and allow to cool enough to  handle. Pick the meat off and return the meat to the soup. Discard the bone.

Add salt and pepper to taste, but be sure to actually taste it – the ham can add a lot of salt.

And THAT made such a large pot of soup, that I still have some in the freezer for yet another meal or two.  And the moral of this story is: Never pass up a fantastic sale on ham.

Free College Lectures Online

I came across this site recently: Academic Earth. Now, I’m guessing that most homeschooling moms are autodidacts, but these are useful for the kids, too. For example, my 12 year-old son is very interested in science, and while I can find lots of interesting books for him about advanced science, being able to point him to college level lectures from top colleges is pretty exciting. (And I’m spending my spare time listening to lectures, too!)

Another site I recently found is The Teaching Company. They aren’t free, but their courses are outstanding. They’re available in audio CD, DVD and audio download.  They are pretty pricey – too pricey for me at their regular prices – but they always have many courses on sale, and if you have one in mind, check back every month and eventually, it’ll be on sale, too.

Picking Your Fish

I love to eat fish, and all but one of my kids love fish, too. My favorite fish is orange roughy. A few months ago, I was talking to a friend and mentioned that I was making orange roughy for dinner. She told me that orange roughy are overfished and close to being on the endangered list.

I knew of a couple other varieties of fish that I don’t buy because of those kinds of issues, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed – how am I supposed to remember what’s okay to buy and what isn’t while I’m in the grocery store?

I started googling and found this site: Seafood Watch

Not only do they have a searchable index of fish, so you can see if your favorite seafood is sustainable, but they also have a free printable little guide that will fit in your purse, wallet, or coupon organizer. It lists “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives”, and fish to “Avoid”, as well as a quick explanation of why your fish choices matter. I keep one in my purse, and one next to the desk where I do my menu planning each week.

There is an added benefit that most (but certainly not all) of the sustainable fish are a lot less expensive than the ones on the “avoid” list.

Linked to: Works for Me Wednesday – go check it out for a HUGE selection of  tips from lots of bloggers!

Brown Sugar Shortbread Recipe

Here’s another recipe that I put in the food gifts for Christmas. I also brought some of this shortbread to our homeschool group’s Christmas party. It is so tasty and rich that everyone thought I’d put a lot of work into the shortbread, but… well, you’ll see.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (only use real butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (I used dark brown sugar, but you could use either)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Heat the oven to 300° and get out a baking sheet. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in the flour.  Let it mix until cohesive and smooth, and the pat out into an 11×8″ rectangle on your baking sheet (the dough should be just a little less than 1/2″ thick).

Use a fork to dock the dough all over. Use a pizza wheel to score the dough, first across in straight lines about an inch apart, and then at an angle 2″ apart to make skewed rectangles.

Bake at 300° for about 25 minutes, or until the edges just barely start to get golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately go over your score marks with the pizza wheel, this time cutting all the way through and gently nudging the pieces apart.

Let cool for five minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These are ridiculously tasty for how easy they are. If you want to get really fancy, you could dip them half into melted chocolate.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Check them out for oodles of tasty recipes!

Helping Haiti

I was looking for a legitimate way to donate to the efforts in Haiti – I didn’t want my donation to go to more administrative than actual help. I found this site – CharityNavigator.com and I’m impressed. They break it down so you know how much of your donation goes to fundraising and administrative costs. I thought it was really nifty, so I thought  it was important enough for me to make a quick post from my vacation.

I’ll be back at home on Monday, and I’ve got some fun things to share next week!