So long Sandy, Hello Halloween!

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy.  I have missed posting, but when I don’t cook anything, there’s not much to post…

Til now.  We here in Northern Virginia were bombarded with “Get Ready for Hurricane Sandy!” messages since Friday.  I originally thought the storm was going to hit over the weekend, potentially ruining our family’s plan to attend the Washington International Horse Show Saturday night to see the President’s Cup Grand Prix (show jumping).  Fortunately, I was mistaken and we had a great time.  There were past Olympian equestrians, new Olympians (Reed Kessler!) and celebrity children (Jessica Springsteen).

J Springsteen

Springsteen bought her horse from UK Gold Medalist Peter Charles!

Reed Kessler

Reed Kessler, 18 year old phenom

Ken loved the jump-off; our seats were pretty close so he could see the riders well.  I think they inspired him; he rode pretty well at his lesson last night!

I can’t say I did anything to prepare for the hurricane except fill a bathtub with water and recharge the batteries from our camping trip; I have been hunkered down with what my husband now believes is prolonged bronchitis.  On Sunday, the school system announced there would be no school Monday or Tuesday.  I was exhausted, so I let the guys go grocery shopping and they came back with the following:

  • Oreos
  • Entenmann’s chocolate covered doughnuts
  • Bagels
  • Blueberry Pop-Tars
  • Hot dogs and rolls
  • Fancy crackers
  • Pringles AND Lay’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Chips
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal (and we already have two other kinds in the pantry)
  • Milk
  • Water

Needless to say, Sunday was a junkfood bust– especially since we were obsessed with the Redskin-Steelers game.

On Monday, I decided to make a big pot of hearty bean and some-kind-of-meat soup that would last for two days just in case we lost power.  I paid a bit more attention to ingredients and flavors since I had the time (it wasn’t a quicky meal before another Ken activity).  I decided to use the last of my beans and chose black-eyed peas (soaked for an hour), lentils and split peas (just because my friend Jacki had recently made a split pea soup  and that reminded me I had some lying around).  I knew I needed some kind of meat because I live with carnivores who get cranky after too many meatless meals.  Again, I raided the freezer and pulled out two 1/2 inch slices of pancetta and a slab of local bacon.  I did a large dice on the pancetta and used about a fourth of the bacon which I cut into 1 inch pieces.  For seasonings, I relied on a mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions), garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.   I also decided to add a box of crushed tomatoes (my current favorite is Pomi).  Here’s what I had ready to go:

Prepped and ready to go!

Heat a dutch oven on medium heat, toss in a little olive oil and then the pancetta and bacon.  We’re not going for color, just to render a little fat to cook the mirepoix.

Pancetta and Bacon

Throw in the mirepoix, garlic and thyme.

Mirepoix, garlic and thyme

Cook the veg until softened; the onion becomes translucent.  Again, you don’t want to brown the vegetables, just sweat them a bit.  Then add the beans (drain the black-eyed peas first!) and stir to combine:

Mix to distribute all that flavor!

At this point, I get a little flexible.  I know I need about twelve cups of liquid to cook everything, plus the box of tomatoes.  I added about 10 cups of water, half the box of tomatoes, then the bay leaves, stirring well to combine.

Water, tomatoes and bay leaves

I bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to simmer and clamp on a lid.  I let it go for 45 minutes, then add salt, another 2 cups of water and the remaining tomatoes.  (I have a large pot).  I simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour, tasting and stirring when I remember.  Be careful about seasoning with too much salt at this point; hot liquid tastes less salty than cooler AND as the liquid evaporates, the salt will be more concentrated.  Once the beans are done to your liking (taste a few of each type of bean since they are different sizes and each type of bean cooks unevenly).  Do a final seasoning check and ladle into bowls.  Serve with your bread of choice.

The tomatoes really up the flavor of this soup, so use a good brand!

That was Monday.  We had the same yesterday, but now I’m off to the store to buy Halloween candy (somehow we forgot that) as well as ingredients for tonight’s dish– you’ll have to check back later to see what I made!

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