Pea Soup with Ham

IMG_2734A hearty bowl of pea soup can turn a day around.  Working outside during the month of February can be bone chilling cold.  We do get the odd “day lent”, when the sun pours down and reminds us of the spring that’s right around the corner.  Usually though, it’s wet with the occasional snow flurry.  The ground is saturated with a winter’s worth of rain, and it’s the perfect time to pound in fence posts before the ground dries up for another year.  Wire to be stretched, staples to be hammered, all working towards a hard day’s work.  When we come into the kitchen, and know that we are about to have a hearty bowl of soup, we feel looked after, cossetted even.

This is so easy to make, and the vegan version is great as well.  Enjoy big bowls full with fresh scones on the side as a fabulous supper.  You’ll be glad we’re in the depths of winter.

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Midwest Chowder

A friend gave this recipe to me in the 1980’s.  Not only did we share recipes, but also we raised and showed dogs, bred horses, raised children and genuinely clicked as friends.  This soup was the school children’s favourite when our girls were young, and the recipe spread amongst the island’s families.  It then moved on to being a mainstay of the Soup’s On program, and was included in the island’s cookbook. So, thanks once again, Colleen, for sharing this with us all.

It continues to nourish us during the fall, winter and early spring.  I try to keep a tin of creamed corn in the pantry, just for this. Continue reading

Beef Short Ribs with Bordelaise Sauce

One of the advantages of growing our own beef is that we get to have it custom cut.  We always make sure that we get the ribs.  Short Ribs used to be one of the thrifty leftover cuts, such as Lamb Shanks.  When the art of slow cooking resurfaced in restaurants, these cuts became more expensive.  Treating them with the respect that they deserve results in an amazing meal.

Raising animals for food makes me very aware of using the whole.  I must admit that there are bits and pieces that find their way into homemade dog food, but for the most part all of it makes for good eating.  It’s all in the preparation.  Take your time, and enjoy the scents of slow cooking, and especially the amazing results.  You don’t have to do it every day, but it will make for a memorable meal when you do.

The Bordelaise sauce is a lovely mix of caramelized root vegetables & celery (mirepoix), that are cooked in wine as it reduces, then mixed with stock to cook the ribs in.  When all is done, the vegetables and liquids get blended together to create a deep, rich sauce.  Try to include parsnips in this, as they create a depth to the sauce that the other vegetables only hint at.  To be honest, I even had to forgo the celery.  Unfortunately I wanted to make the Ribs so much I had to do without. It’s that island thing again! Make-do, make-do!

Short Ribs are an excellent dinner party food.  Most of the work may be done the day before; in fact I think it is better.  So relax and enjoy this rich meal with a lovely glass of deep red wine.  Or two. Continue reading

Fish & Potato Pie

IMG_1122Today it clouded over for the first time in weeks.  It’s too dark to do barn chores after 7PM.  I think that perhaps autumn is actually arriving.  This dish is a wonderful comfort meal.  The heartiness of the potato crust with the tender, flaky fish, along with fresh spinach, and a lovely cream sauce, is also accompanied by imbedded hard-boiled eggs.  I must admit, I thought about it for many months before I made it.  Everyone who has been served it since has virtually licked their plate clean.  So, after a long day tidying up your garden ready for the winter that will eventually come, enjoy this with a simple side dish of baby peas or green beans.  The onions and carrots could be chopped ahead of time, and the eggs and spinach could be cooked ahead & refrigerated, even by a day, and brought out to come to room temperature before assembly. Continue reading