As someone who actually makes a living by writing, with a decades-old English major, I am usually just delighted to have a job, and take the benefits as they fall. This morning, though, when I woke to the "wintery mix" chasing itself around the snow-flecked picnic table and red-berried bushes harboring chattering cardinals, I had a quick lapse. Wouldn't it be great to be getting paid to take Presidents Day off, padding around in snuggly socks, watching nuthatches and flickers in the feeders I double-stocked just yesterday, making a big vat of soup?
Instead, allowing a little extra time for the driver's door to thaw, up to work here in the historic Tennessee Theater building I trekked. But here's the cool thing: I remembered the More Dinner's In the Freezer cookbook, one of my favorites from 2009. It's got this great recipe for split pea soup that you cook in the slow cooker, and you can freeze, and it's only 133 calories and 5.3 grams of fat per serving.
So it is technically possible for me to be making a President's Day batch of soup while I'm right here at work. That is not what is actually happening, though. What is happening is I am sharing that great idea with anyone who is off work today, so they can get a head start. I'm actually going to make this soup tomorrow, before I leave for work, kind of a Boxing Day version of a day-after-President's Day observance. Which means for today, I am still a little jealous of the people who are home. Or I was, I called my friend Sue who works for a federal agency. Is she making soup? Watching birds? Napping? Nah. "I'm doing this tax junk, sorting papers," she told me.
Maybe I'll bring her some of my soup on Wednesday, make it kind of the Three Days of Presidents Day. And I had another great thought just now. While I'm not getting paid to celebrate the past and present leaders of the free world today, I am getting remunerated for babbling, and for keying in a pea soup recipe. What a great country. What a great job!
Presidents Day Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
from Don't Panic, More Dinner's in the Freezer (Revell, 2009) by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell & Bonnie Garcia
1 16-oz. pkg. dried split green peas, rinsed
2 cups diced ham
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 t. seasoned salt
1/2 t. fresh black pepper
1 1/2 quts. hot water
2 14-oz. cans chicken broth
Yield: 12 servings
Cooking day: Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given in ingredient list: finish by pouring in water and chicken broth. Do not stir. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until vegetables are soft. Remove bay leaf. Mash peas to thicken soup, if desired. Cool completely and freeze in desired portions (I use 1-quart freezer bags).
Serving day: Thaw completely. Reheat on stovetop until heated through. Optional: serve garnished with homemade croutons.