Friday, June 27, 2008

Split Pea Soup

Okay, I know it's about 109 degrees outside here in Las Vegas. Not exactly soup weather. However, I awoke this morning with a strong craving for split pea soup after watching a program on the Travel Channel yesterday which featured Pea Soup Andersen's in Buellton, California. I wanted to make it in my pressure cooker, just like they do at Andersen's, however, they don't use any meat in the making of their soup and I just love a good smoky ham hock.

Unfortunately, after taking quite a few snapshots, I found it difficult to make a bowl of split pea soup look appealing. You'll just have to take my word for it. It's much more tasty than it looks!

Here's my recipe:

6 cups water
3 ham hocks
1 carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves

Place above ingredients in pressure cooker and cook at pressure for 45 minutes. After letting pressure release naturally, remove ham hocks and set aside to cool.

Add to pot:

6 tsp chicken bouillon
pepper to taste
dash cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp thyme
16 oz dried split peas, rinsed and picked over for debris
1 large stalk celery, diced

Cover and return to pressure. Cook an additional 15 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Ham hocks should be cool enough by now to remove meat. Discard skin and bones, add meat to the pot. If necessary, add additional water if soup is too thick. Add 1/2 tsp liquid smoke if desired and season with additional salt if needed.

After the soup was finished, I really wanted to eat it with fresh rolls, so I'm waiting right now for them to rise. Not very patiently waiting, I might add.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Tawashi in Japan are scrubbers. They're usually stiff bristled brushes but recently they have taken the knit and crochet communities by storm as little scrubbies in the form of fruit, flowers, animals, etc. There is even a group on Ravelry called Tawashi Town. They're addicting, but then again, I say that about everything I do. I guess that's because it makes me feel like it's okay that I didn't make lunch for the family (for 2 days in a row)...I have a new addiction. Mommy needs intervention! Luckily, they're easy to share, everyone washes dishes, right? In Japan they're made of an antibacterial acrylic yarn, for which I can't find an American counterpart. There is a vendor on Etsy that sells this yarn and it's not expensive at all, but she is in Matsusaka, Japan so you'll have to wait a week for shipping. Still not bad.

This pattern is very easy and very popular amongst the Tawashi makers and I have seen some for sale on Etsy as well. I have also adapted my little crocheted coaster pattern for Tawashi. I carry along strips of tulle or nylon netting in the center portion to increase their scrubbing power. They're fast and take very little yarn. Great stash busters! I have experimented with Red Heart acrylic yarn for lack of the Japanese antibacterial stuff and they clean quite well.

Go out and make some Tawashi!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Journey - OMG! They're so back!

So wonderful to see the guys back doing what they do best. I've been a fan since the early '80s when my high school boyfriend introduced me to their music. We even saw them in concert when they played at the Neil Blaisdell Center in Honolulu in 1983 and 1984. I was heartbroken when Steve Perry left the group and couldn't quite resign myself to Steve Augeri as their new frontman. I think the years have mellowed my views and I am now able to embrace fellow Filipino, Arnel Pineda, as lead vocalist. Thanks to the original band members Neal Schon and Ross Valory plus longtime members Jonathan Cain and Deen Castronovo, the sound is genuine Journey.

I first saw Arnel Pineda on YouTube and was completely blown away. Apparently, this is how Neal Schon found out about him, too.

If you're a Journey fan or want to be one, you can find this 3-CD set at Wal-Mart for $11.88. I just bought it today and had to rip the celophane off in the parking lot. I think my son has only seen me do this to candy wrappers! Money well spent.
Now to get all of this good stuff on my iPod so I can take the guys with me.