Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Split Peas-onality

It’s not uncommon for me to make more than one trip to the grocery store over the course of a day. Paper towels were too expensive at United, Safeway was out of bananas, Costco stopped carrying my brand of dish soap…whatever the reason, it seems rare that I can get it done in one stop.  The other day, however, I had to chuckle at myself as I pulled into the driveway and started to unload the products of my afternoon’s foraging.

My first armload of goods contained the bounty from my trip to Good Earth, our local organic market.  As I plopped the mismatched, unbleached, recycled, cotton, reusable grocery totes onto the counter, out poured a cornucopia of beautiful produce, bulk legumes, and fermented non-dairy alternatives.  “What a good wife and mom I am,” I shamelessly thought to myself, “and a good steward of our mother earth to boot!”  I thought about the quinoa and kale salad I was about to make for lunch, the organic mineral broth I would simmer all day then turn into a protein-packed vegetarian soup for the family dinner and how I would compost all of the scraps to feed my vegetable garden.  I neatly folded my totes, gave them a proud little pat, then marched them back out to the car to tuck away for my next trip to the farmer’s market.

As I leaned into the back of my car, I was reminded that I had more groceries to unload. Ah yes, I had gone to CVS earlier that day to purchase a few essentials I needed to complete a couple of more projects on this week’s docket.  Here were the contents of my environmentally incorrect plastic shopping bag.  Charlie had to take a photo when I unloaded them onto the counter…it looked so funny.

No joke, these were the sole goods that travelled along the three foot conveyor belt of shame at the check out that day: two bottles of 100 proof vodka and two bottles of highly noxious rubber cement, lined up, ready to be whisked away like mommy’s dirty little secrets.  Until I saw them conspicuously convey down the line, it didn’t occur to me that perhaps I should have thrown a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk in the mix…anything to deflect the appearance that I was about to head home and “break some bad.”  In reality the rubber cement was for Will’s Science Fair presentation and the vodka for a Limoncello liqueur recipe I want to test to give as holiday gifts this year. By all appearances however, it would seem that I was planning to have a secret little private party before picking the kiddies up from school.

So, yes…I do tend to make multiple trips to the market in one day.  And, no…they are not all as virtuous as I'd like.  When it comes to food, I tend to have a split personality.  Although I love to feed my family nutritious, wholesome, organic meals most of the time, I also believe that it’s important to indulge every now and then…to feel decadent and treated and just a little bit naughty.

So today I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite go-to healthy recipes then, speaking of naughty, sneak in my friend's formula for that Limoncello I’ve been meaning to try.  I can vouch for the surprisingly delicious meat-free goodness of the split pea soup   (that is if you like split peas) but can’t personally attest to the Limoncello as my gallon jug is tucked away in a dark corner of my pantry doing its thing.  I’ll let you know in 80 days when it’s ready to sip!  Do you have a favorite go-to healthy recipe?  What’s your favorite indulgence?  I’m guessing you might have a split pea-sonality too…do share!
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
makes 8 servings
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups dried green split peas, rinsed well
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (chicken is fine if you are not going veggie)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs freshly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Heat oil in a large pot, add onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until golden.  Add carrot, celery, thyme and 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/8 tsp of pepper and sauté for about 8 minutes.
Stir in garlic and split peas, then pour in about 1/2 cup of broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen and bits stuck to the pot.  Cook until liquid is reduced by half.  Add remaining broth.  Increase heat to high and bring to just a boil.  Decrease heat to low and simmer until the split peas are tender, about 40 minutes.
Ladle two cups of the soup into a blender and process until very smooth then stir back into the soup and cook until heated through. I use an immersion blender and process until I get the texture that I like. A food processor will work as well...just be careful not to splatter the piping hot soup.
Stir in the lemon juice, smoked paprika and a pinch of salt.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired adding more juice or spices as desired.
Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Recipe adapted from "The Longevity Kitchen" by Rebecca Katz
makes about 11 cups
  • 20 lemons-washed & dried.  Meyer has the best flavor, but any lemon will do.
  • 2 750 ml bottles of ‘Everclear’-can be found at ‘BevMo’ or un-flavored vodka can be substituted (100 proof if you can find it)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 5 cups water
Peel the lemons with a sharp vegetable or potato peeler, taking only the zest and avoid as much of the white pith as possible. Place peels in a gallon (or larger) glass or ceramic container that has a tight seal.
Pour 1 bottle of ‘Everclear’ over the peels then seal the container.  Let it sit undisturbed for 40 days.  I place mine in the back floor of the hall closet-dark and cool.
After the 40 days I make a simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil then add/stir the sugar (bakers sugar works quicker) until it dissolves.  Let it cool for about an hour, then pour into the container along with another bottle of ‘Everclear’. Give a stir, re-seal, then back into a cool, dark spot for another 40 days.
I then take either cheesecloth or a fine strainer and place it over the top of a large glass measuring cup (spout) and fill the cup up.  I then pour the filtered elixir into bottles.  I have gone on-line and found bottle companies that make unique bottles if you intend to give some as gifts.  The limoncello can be enjoyed at room temperature, refrigerated or some place in the freezer.

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