I'm sort of on a recipe kick right now. I hope you don't mind.
Sometimes i'm sort of shocked that everyone else doesn't do the things the way i do. Ridiculous, i know. So i will share some of them with you maybe, and you may or may not find a little simple richness in the kitchen (or elsewhere) because of it.
Today, split pea soup.
Now, before you say, "ew, green soup," well, just don't say that. Split pea soup is good stuff and good for you and simple to prepare.
I will say this. Split pea soup is one of the only dishes i will ever say is best the first day. But for split pea soup, it's true. Many other things, i make in large quantities, so i can make them last several days, cooking on low, but split peas, i make a small amount, preferrably to be consumed in one meal. They're not horrible the next day; in fact i'm having second day split peas right now, and i like them very much. It's a texture thing. And now i'm rambling.
Let's get started.
If all you have on hand for a meat base (all beany things should have a meat base) is bacon, that's cool, but split peas are better with sausage. I have recently discovered a sincere affection for italian sausage, so that's what i'm using. You can use whatever tickles you. Spicier, with split peas, is probably better.
This is two links of mild italian sausage. I thawed them and tossed 'em in the pan - the same pan i'm going to use for the peas. Just flip 'em around a while, until they start to brown (or you could do it the way they say on the package, which has something to do with steaming them or whatever; i didn't).
Then cut them up. If you did it my way, it'll look a little bit like raw hamburger inside, and we don't like raw pork, so throw 'em back in the pan and cook until all that red stuff turns nicely brown. Oh, and we're probably cooking on medium heat or so.
Meanwhile, get your hands on those peas. I used a 16 oz package for this recipe. I have often used just half of that, which seems to be the perfect amount for just one meal, feeding three people. Pour your peas in the colander, poke around in there to make sure the grocery store didn't sell you any rocks with your purchase, and rinse them thoroughly.
Once the sausage is ready, pour in the split peas and stir them around. Next you'll need to pour in enough water to more than cover your mixture. Then, turn the heat down to low or medium low. You want them to simmer, but that's about it. Low and slow is the way to go (you might hear that from me again). And i apologize. My picture if sausage and peas WITH water evaporated inside my camera, but i'm sure you can figure it out.
Keep it cooking, check it from time to time to make sure the peas aren't burning and give it a stir. If it looks a little without water, add water. You can always cook the soup down and make it thicker. You cannot ever come back from burned on the bottom. So keep plenty of water in there.
In the end, twoish hours later, it should look something like this. Don't you love that color!
Call in the troops and serve with leftover cornbread. You don't have leftover cornbread? Shame on you and keep reading.
This soup was a little bland at first, but i added a little salt and onion powder, and then it tasted like the kind of soup i want to have many more bowls of.
In case you are without cornbread, and you are under the horrifying impression that you can't make good cornbread without one of those little packets you get from the grocery store, please allow me to share with you the tried and true, best homemade cornbread you can make (exaggerations within possible but not probable; i have many testimonials of cornbread-lovin' country boys to back me up). I've made this one so many times that i know it by heart.
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus a little more
Get a bowl.
Get out those first five ingredients (the dry ones) on the list, and pour them in your bowl.
Stir them around.
Then get those last three ingredients out (except for the little more oil; that's for later) and plop them on top of the other stuff in your bowl.
Get a whisk.
Stir it all around until it looks like batter.
Stick it in the fridge.
Get you a pan, something equal to a nine inch round cake pan, preferably dark metal, but glass will work. If you have a cast iron skillet, that's the best thing you could ever bake your cornbread in. Whatever you've got, get it, and pour a good dollup (that's the little more oil listed above) of it into your pan. Then, about half way through preheating your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit, stick your pan with the oil in the oven and let it heat up.
When the oven is hot, get your pan back out (please use proper oven mitts) get your batter out of the fridge, and pour your batter in the pan.
It will sizzle.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
*credit for this wonderful recipe should be given to my wonderful mother, who in spite of being born and bred in Sweden, can cook to a country boy's heart's content anyway.
**if you're using double acting baking powder (and you probably are), that little stint in the fridge makes the cornbread fluffier. this also works for pancake batter, in case you were curious. oh, and i owe that knowledge to being a veteran of Denny's.
***the business of the hot oil in the pan before the batter makes for crispy edges. i owe that tip to my uncle larry. if you don't like extra fat and apparently not crispy edges either, then do it your way.