Monday, April 20, 2009

"Unique Creative Cooking" (Mason City, IA church cookbook) & "Blondie's Soups.Salads.Sandwiches Cookbook" - Ham and Green Noodles and Split Pea Soup

Date I made these recipes: April 16, 2009

Unique Creative Cooking – Heavenly Pleasures from Old First Church—The First Congregational United Church of Christ – Mason City, Iowa
Published by: The First Congregational Church
© 1987
Recipe: Ham and Green Noodles (submitted by Marilynn Ellers) – p. 79

Blondie’s Soups.Salads.Sandwiches Cookbook – Selected and Illustrated by Chic Young (Blondie comic strip creator)
Published by: David McKay Company
© 1947
Recipe: Split Pea Soup – p. 69

Today’s lesson, kids, is this: What to do with leftover ham?

One of my friends marveled at how I baked a 9-pound ham for Easter given that there are only two of us in the house, but I like ham leftovers and so I had ham recipes lined up before the ham even hit the oven.

The first dish I made almost sounded like something Lynne Rossetto Kasper would make on the “Stump the Cook” portion of her weekly radio program, The Splendid Table. In that segment, a caller gives Lynne a list of three ingredients currently found in the refrigerator and Lynne has to come up with a dish. Cookbook author Christopher Kimball decides whether or not Lynne hit the jackpot or lost it all in an attempt to create something edible. I have to hand it to her, she’s usually pretty creative.

Now the title Ham and Green Noodles might be off-putting to some but don’t let the “green” scare you; green is for green spinach noodles, not for anything that went bad in your refrigerator or cupboard. (Don’t laugh. My friend, Mary, loves to tell the story of how her mom stockpiled Twinkies for so long that the filling turned green. I can’t even phantom how that is possible but it’s true.)

Several other ingredients did not scare me, either, as we had a lineup of ham, noodles, Cheddar cheese soup and sour cream – what’s not to love about that combo!

But folks, the rest of the ingredients were a little spooky: sliced mushrooms (not bad but I didn’t see how they would work); chopped (black) ripe olives (???) and then a complete head-scratcher – ½ cup of dry roasted peanuts.


Even more off-putting, though, was the way the dish looked before I put it in the oven. It was very thick making it difficult to spoon out of my mixing bowl, and those little black olive flecks looked like…well, I will leave that to your imagination!

Now faithful readers know that I often (always?) take issue with something in the recipe and today I have two gripes: first, ALL ingredients should be listed in the recipe list because if you’re like me, this becomes your grocery list, right? (Although I have to confess that I forgot my recipe at home and so shopped from total recall). And had I seen that I needed 8 ounces of grated Cheddar cheese, I probably would have bought it when I got the rest of the ingredients, but no. I was about ready to pop the thing in the oven when I read the instruction that said “Top with 8 ounces of Cheddar cheese (grated).” Well what the ???! I had to drop everything, run up to my local gas station to purchase an overly-inflated brick of cheese for this recipe. I hate it when that happens.

Gripe number two has to do with the vague instruction “Bake at 350 until bubbly and brown on top.”

Huh. And that would be approximately how many minutes? I really had no idea and I am not one to open oven doors to peek while cooking so I glanced at the next recipe in the book and it said “350 for about an hour.” So that’s what I went with and the dish was fine but the cheese had formed a hard crust, probably just to tick me off for having (almost) left it out in the first place!

As to the taste, my husband liked it but I dunno – I think we could have ditched the peanuts (in my opinion, they added nothing) and the olives but used everything else. As my friend, Andrea says, “It’s a texture thing.”

And now on to the soup…years ago, I purchased Blondie’s Cook Book – Soups. Salads.Sandwiches from Bonnie Slotnick’s Cookbooks in New York and when I found myself with a ham bone, I went on the Hunt for Red October to find a soup recipe. I had a bit of trouble until I unearthed this cookbook.

Some of the younger generation might not be familiar with the comic strip, Blondie, nor with the TV series of the same name that aired in 1957. Although Blondie is the title of the comic strip, it’s really about Blondie’s husband, Dagwood Bumstead. Dagwood works in an office for Mr. Dithers, a rather crotchety old man, has great best friends named Herb and Cookie, and in his spare time loves baths and making sandwiches. Huge sandwiches. In fact, if you see a sandwich named Dagwood on a menu, you know you’ll be getting one gigantic sandwich, filled with all kinds of meats and cheeses.

So you’d think, wouldn’t you, that I’d make a sandwich from the cookbook, seeing as how that is Dagwood’s specialty? Well, sorry folks, the sandwich recipes didn’t grab my attention and seeing as how I was on the hunt for a ham-bone soup, I went with Split Pea.

This recipe is good but it definitely needed more time to cook; the recipe said 1 hour and that is way too short unless you like eating raw split peas. I think I left it on the stove about 2 ½ hours and that worked just fine seeing as how I like a thicker pea soup. I hate to say but my mother’s pea soup is the standard to which I hold all other pea soups—so thick you could stand a spoon it in, loaded with potatoes and carrots and one delicious ham bone because my mother never liked to throw anything out…and neither should you!

Ham and Green Noodles (serving size not indicated)
3 cups chopped ham (small cubes)
2 cups cooked spinach noodles
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup chopped ripe olives
½ cup dry roasted peanuts
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

Mix ingredients and put in a greased 9x13” pan. Top with 8 ounces Cheddar cheese (grated). Bake at 350 until bubbly and brown on top.

Split Pea Soup – serves 6
1 ham bone
1 pound split peas
2 carrots
½ onion

Cover cooked ham bone with water; simmer slowly 2 hours, remove bone and add any meat clinging to bone to soup stock. Add peas; scrub carrots and dice. Chop onion, and add carrot and onion to the stock. Cover and simmer slowly 1 hour, then add salt and pepper to taste.

1 comment:

~~louise~~ said...

Oh Ann, I do LOVE your blog. This post is "priceless." I must come back when I have more time.

Thank you so much for sharing...