Saturday, June 2, 2012

Split Pea Soup

3 posts in one week? I know. Very surprising. Now before I disappear for another 6 months, I wanted to post about split pea soup. It's green. It can be gross looking. It reminds me of "The Exorcist." However, I recently tried it for the first time, and I loved the flavor! The following recipe contains chunks of ham, carrots, celery, and onions to make it a bit heartier. The best part about it? It's a slow-cooker recipe, so all you have to do is layer the ingredients in your cooker, set it on low, take an 8 hour nap (or 4-5 hours if you set the cooker on high), wake up, and eat. Amazing.

 This recipe comes from Diana Rattray over at (this recipe came up when I googled split pea soup). The original recipe is here, but I made a few changes based on what was available in my kitchen, and personal preferences. 

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup, adapted from Diana Rattray's recipe
  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 2-3 cups diced ham (I like more ham, because it adds heft)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2 qts. hot water
  • 1 15 oz. can sweet peas, with juice (orig. doesn't call for this, but I like the extra sweetness and heartiness it adds)
Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft.. Remove bay leaf. Mash peas to thicken more, if desired. Serve garnished with croutons, or with a side of crusty bread.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Cook Bacon

Bacon. It goes great with eggs for breakfast, in a BLT (or BLTA--bacon lettuce tomato with avocado) for lunch, or a cheddar bacon onion tart for dinner. It. Is. Awesome. 

Bacon seems to take very little thought as far as the cooking process goes. Heat skillet, put bacon in skillet, cook until brown. My problem with bacon though, is that I would frequently over-cook it in my quest for crispiness. So often, it would look like this: 
Artist's rendering

See how burnt bacon makes me sad? Then, America's Test Kitchen (ATK), my favorite show and cooking guide, came out with a video called, "Make the Most Perfect Bacon Ever." Ever? Pretty much.

Over high heat, place bacon in skillet, and then cover with enough water to cover. When water boils, turn heat down to medium.

Once water simmers and evaporates, turn heat to medium-low. Cook until crispy and brown.

Crispity, crunchity, bacony.
It seems counter-intuitive to add water for crispy bacon, and I was hesitant about the process. However, ATK has never done me wrong, and I'm happy to report that it worked! 

Edit: My cousin asked if the water method would reduce the flavor of the bacon (it does not), and mentioned that she just cooks bacon in the oven. Though I agree that baking in the oven works great, I don't always want to heat up my oven to cook a few strips of bacon. If I were cooking for a large group, then the oven method would work best. For 3 strips of bacon, I would recommend this water & skillet method.

Here's ATK's video explaining the process...