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Tag Archives: Comfort Food
So, the other night, I fixed the easiest, most simple (and probably cheapest meal) I have in my recipe collection. I don’t think it’s particularly special to my family and probably pretty common.
Ham and Beans. This isn’t really my recipe, but my grandmother’s. Though, I’ve modified it so I can use my fancy schmancy new fangled kitchen gadget, the slow cooker.
Anytime I eat this, it conjures memories of walking through my grandparents’ door, to be greeted by the smells of leftover Thanksgiving goodness and love. In fact, every time I make it, I find myself relocating for five minutes to the ten year-old version of myself and sitting across from my grandfather at the dinner table. One of the important elements of my relationship with my grandfather was his attempt to pull me out of my perpetual grumpiness. Eating this meal reminds me always of his calling me a grump lovingly and jokingly until I finally pulled out of my prepubescent emotional slump and laughed alongside him.
As a child, I used to imagine my great-grandmother, who I remember mostly from pictures, teaching my grandmother how to make a good pot of ham and beans. As a young woman, on a visit home from college, I inquired of my grandmother how to make it. And she taught me. Later, when I married, I realized how integral this same meal was to my husband’s fondness of his grandmother as well. So it has become a favorite of ours, and now of our girls’. It’s almost a family legacy in a bowl.
Tonight is the first time I’ve made this meal since the tragedy. And it’s making me miss my grandpa. It’s making me miss the house that was a childhood haven. It’s making me miss my family.
It’s making me reflect on all the love my grandparents showed me through my life. It’s making me thankful for the time I had with Grandpa and encouraging me to spend more time with Grandma.
I share this recipe so that you can also enjoy some good old comfort in a bowl.
I always save the bone with some meaty pieces from our holiday meals (generally Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or Easter). It’s a trick that grandma taught me. I put it in a zip lock bag and freeze it until I’m ready to make this meal.
Ham and Beans
1 Ham Bone with meaty pieces
2 cups dry navy beans
1/4 cup chopped onion (any variety will do – this time I used red because it’s what I had)
1/4 chopped green pepper
The night before, rinse and sort 1 cup dry navy beans. If you need a good tutorial on how to do that, visit this 5dollardinner.com tutorial – just ignore the part when it come to cooking them.
Soak them in eight cups of water in the slow cooker overnight (don’t turn on the slow cooker, just let the beans soak).
In the morning, pour the beans and water into a strainer. Remove any split, broken, or shriveled beans. Give the beans one more quick rinse.
Dump the beans back into the slow cooker and cover with eight more cups of water.
Add the ham bone, onion, and pepper. You can add salt and pepper, if you’d like. I find the ham salty enough to flavor the beans.
Cook on low for eight hours or on high for six hours.
When the beans finish cooking, remove the bone (and any tendons that come off) and shred any big meaty pieces, returning the meat to the slow cooker with the beans.
Serve with your favorite cornbread and Enjoy!
As winter settles in, sometimes I just feel like a little comfort food. And few foods are more comforting to me than Potato Soup.
With Thanksgiving a week behind me, I still have a few lingering left overs. I thought I’d put them to good use tonight to make my Mother-in-Law’s so-simple-but-not-famous “Mom’s Potato Soup.” I still have some potatoes from the 10-pound bag I got for $1.99 at Kroger. They need to be eaten. I also have a few slices of ham (not in the original recipe) and I’m tired of making sandwiches from it.
A few years back, my mother-in-law, who is phenomenal in the kitchen, lovingly spent many hours writing up and combining her blended family’s most loved recipes. Some from the earlier years, when her boys were kids and some from more recently when she remarried. She’s included recipes from just about everyone (I even made a cameo with my fresher than fresh salsa). It’s a wonderful recipe book that I’ve used many times over. Some include annual traditions and childhood book readings. Others are just recipes eaten on any ordinary day that, when prepared, take us back to fond memories of time spent together as a family.
And the recipe for her potato soup is one I refer to very often. She says it’s her most requested recipe. And for good reason. It’s so easy to make and so delicious. If you have these staples on hand (which many of us do), try it out. You won’t be disappointed. Just a note: there are no real measurements here. Cook enough for your crowd. I’ve put the ingredients in bold, so you don’t miss one. The words in italics are my additions/variations for tonight’s pot.
Mom’s Potato Soup
Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced (enough to fill your pot) I used seven medium sized potatoes tonight
1/2 Onion, diced
2 cloves of Garlic, pressed (more if you like)
Put the above ingredients in your pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the ingredients. Cook until the potatoes are just soft. The longer you cook them, the more like mush they’ll be. Pour off half the water and replace with milk and 1 tablespoon of butter. This is where I added the chopped up ham slices. You could also put in real bacon bits. Or add no meat at all; it’s just as good without it. Salt and pepper to taste. IMPORTANT: Don’t allow your soup to boil once you’ve added the milk. It will curdle.
Add 2 slices of American Cheese to each bowl (we used shredded sharp cheddar tonight).
Couple this soup with some crusty bread from your favorite bakery and enjoy. It’s so warm and delicious and good. It’s almost as good as getting a hug from mom herself.