St. Patrick’s Day Table Decor

St. Patrick's Day Table Decor

Since it’s the end of February, I’ve been trying to come up with an idea to replace the Valentine’s Day candy corn that have been in a decorative jar on our dining table. I couldn’t think of any green candies to go in it for March and St. Patrick’s Day, though.

Last week I was walking down the aisle at the grocery store and passed by the bags of dried beans. The bright green split peas caught my eye and I grabbed up three bags (about $1 each).

I use split peas pretty often for cooking and know that the bag always recommends that you wash the “field dust” off the peas before using them. I figured I’d rinse them off this time as well, even though I wasn’t cooking with them.

What I didn’t realize was that they get pretty clumpy when they’re left to sit after being wet, so my husband and I dumped out the colander onto a baking sheet lined with towels to let them air dry, then broke up any further clumps we found.

Overall it worked out really well, and makes a nice little decoration for St. Patrick’s Day!


Split Pea Soup


The poor kids — I’m on a soup kick lately. Well, a soup/stew/chili kick, anyway. Our fall here is so brief that I take advantage of it any way I can, and that includes dinners that take hours to cook and fill up the house with yummy smells. Thankfully, everyone humors me because they know that it also means a lot of baking, too — bread, cookies, you name it.

Anyway, Mike asked me a couple of weeks ago if I’d find a split pea soup recipe, and here it is. We had it last night with a nice homemade loaf of bread (and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert. See how that works out?).

Peas don’t need to soak like beans do, so after you’ve sorted and rinsed them they can go directly into the crock pot. Also, make sure you add everything into the crock pot in the order given, and don’t mix it up when you’re done. It’s important that the peas stay submerged for as long as possible to soften up.

Once it’s done I transfer about 3/4 of it (minus the ham, if I can help it) into a blender to puree, and then add back into the crockpot for another half hour or so. You don’t need to do this but we like it on the creamier side. An immersion blender would work perfectly for this, but I can’t find mine.

You can also make it vegetarian by omitting the ham and using vegetable stock. If you don’t add ham, up the broth to four cups and use only 1 cup of water.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb dry split peas, rinsed and sorted
1-1/2 cups cooked ham, cubed (or 1 ham hock)
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water

After cooking:
salt to taste
1 cup heavy cream

Layer ingredients into the crock pot in the order given above. Do not mix. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, add the salt as needed and heavy cream.