Friday, March 20, 2009
As some of you may know, I’ve had sort of a bizarre month.
I did this weird project that somehow landed me in People magazine—wearing makeup, no less. (More than one person has looked at the picture and commented on my fabulous new figure-skater look.)
A friend I don’t talk to very often left a message last week asking about the name of a book I had loaned her a few months ago. Took a few days for me to get back to her. I called and gave her the name of the book and apologized for taking so long to return the call. Then I said, “I’m a celebrity. Did you know that?” She said, “You’re a celebrity?” I said, “Yeah.” And then I couldn’t remember if I’d told her about the project. I said, “I sent you the message about my blog, didn’t I?” She said, “Uh… yeah. I thought that was just some weird thing you were doing.” I said, “Yeah, it was. And last week I was on Good Morning America.”
So one of the weird things I’ve had to do over the past few weeks has been to pretend I’m shopping for a dollar while being photographed or filmed. (When I was pretend-shopping last week for Good Morning America I saw my across-the-street neighbor, who was passing through the bulk aisle. She was like, “Hey… how’s it going?” I said,”Hey! Good to see you, what’s up with you?” She said, “Not much. You?” “Oh, not much here either, just doing a little shopping … with a Good Morning America film crew. The usual.”)
With most of the pretend shopping, you can put back the stuff you’re pretending to buy when you’re done, you don’t have to actually buy it, but with bulk foods, once you’ve poured it out of the bin, you have to buy it otherwise it will go to waste. You can’t put it back.
So I ended up with a whole bunch of small bags of cornmeal and steel-cut oats and sunflower seeds and split peas, and I finally got everything organized and together to figure out what I had. Which turned out do be almost two cups of split peas, about two-and-a-half cups of cornmeal, about a cup of steel-cut oats, and probably a quarter cup of sunflower seeds. That’s like half a month’s worth of food for me at this point.
My mom is in town for a few days so I needed to actually cook something (I’ve been enjoying my culinary freedom since last Thursday, eating bagels and cream cheese and various other things that no one would be very impressed by if I put a picture of it up on a website) and decided to work through some of the media-provided food items.
So for dinner for my mom, I made split pea soup and cornbread and coleslaw. (The People shoot required a cabbage, in addition to the bulk-food purchases, so that was sitting in the fridge waiting to be used too.)
It wasn’t as cheap as I expected because I bought ham hocks, which seem like they should be cheap but the ones I got weren’t that cheap. (And you’d think I’d know where all the cheap stuff is but I wasn’t in the market for ham hocks last month so I don’t know who has the cheapest ham hocks in town, and didn’t have time to go more than one place.) But they had a lot of meat on them.
And I didn’t get a picture, but I thought you might like the recipe, which is very simple, and comes from Marion Cunningham’s The Supper Book.
Split Pea Soup
1 pound (2 cups) green split peas
1-1/2 pounds ham hocks, or a leftover ham bone with a little meat attached
2 medium onions, chopped
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
8 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
Put the split peas, ham hocks, onions, and celery in a soup pot, add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and lightly salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occationally, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. The soup is done with the peas are soft. Taste, add more salt, if needed, and a generous amount of pepper. Remove the bones and any skin from the ham hocks, and shred the meat if the chunks are too large. If smooth soup is desired, remove the meat and puree the soup.
I pureed a few cups to make it a little bit thicker. The ham I used was pretty salty so I probably would have been better off using less salt (the lesson being, if you use ham, be sure to taste before adding salt). But overall it was good.
And I just wanted everyone to know that the things the media bought for me won’t go to waste.
I know you’re all relieved.