Fiona, split pea soup

“…I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life — more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time — well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.” From Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

Or a classic fat person.

Feeling tired and anxious today, uneasy in my skin, certain that a fistful of peanut M&Ms would make me feel “better.” Bought a box of cereal instead and measured out one cup, looking across the street as I pulled out of the grocery parking lot at a leaf raker with her enormous bottom stretching out defeated-looking sweatpants.

I’ll admit it: Along with feeling good about my choice, for just a nanosecond I felt a nasty twinge of moral superiority. The next twinge must have been compassion for how hard it probably is for that tubby woman to go about her day. I was that tubby woman, only a year ago, and I know how little I got done between “rests.” Among other things, I have back the full use of my right hand, now that I’m not playing computer solitaire a couple hours a day.

I’m cooking for our Wild Women in the (Tennessee) Woods Weekend coming up and for Thanksgiving as well. I groaned and moaned about it but I rode my bike for an hour today and did some groundwork with the new horse possibility.

Fiona's funny face

Fiona (that’ll be her name if she stays) is the bright rust of oak leaves between the first bits of frost and the first whammo-everything- collapses killing frost. When I brush her in the sunlight, her red hairs are as iridescent as a hummingbird’s optically illusory feathers.

We still make each other nervous, but I did find out she likes me singing in Latin while I groom her. In the ring on a leadline she blows and spins whether the Silly Boys are away from the fenceline or next to it. She’s not afraid of them so what’s the problem? This morning was better except she still thinks it’s her right to headbutt me.

On Saturday she’ll have been here for two weeks, and I haven’t decided yet if we’re going to be a team or not. She’s a warmblood, about 16 h (64 inches at her withers or shoulder blades). Do I want a coldblood (draft), something shorter or do I want to hang up my spurs?

I want to get to our cabin in the Smokies, build a fire and drink cocoa. Or a mug of this split pea soup. I’ve made two batches in the past week — one with a country ham hock for Tennessee and one vegetarian for our college student’s Thanksgiving visit. If you add ham to this Betty Crocker More Slow Cooker Recipes (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004), you might want to halve the salt. You can substitute butternut squash for the sweetpotato. The only must is good fresh garlic (not from a jar) and fresh — not dried — dill. I was surprised and delighted when He Who Is Holding Down the Home Fort this weekend told me we have a patch of volunteer dill. That probably means potato salad for

Winter dill is thicker and shorter than warm-weather herb.

Thanksgiving, too.

Creamy split pea soup

2 cups dried green split peas, sorted and rinsed

6 cups water or low-sodium broth

1/2 cup dry sherry or apple juice

1 large dark-orange sweet potato, peeled and cubed (2 cups)

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons salt

3 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves (I’ve also used chard)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dillweed

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix split peas, water or broth, sherry or juice, sweetpotato, onion, garlic and salt in slow cooker. Cook on high with lid off for 2 hours and then, covered, on low for about 5 hours (your slow cooker may need different timing than my persnickety one) or until peas and other vegetables are tender.

Stir in spinach, cream and dill. Cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes or until spinach wilts. Season with pepper. Eight really good bowls of soup, 235 calories, 10 fat grams each.

Fog rising from "hollers" behind house.

 

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