Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Celebrating the New Year—Open Book Blog Hop

This week on the blog hop, we're discussing  how we celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

It's been a long time since I've gone out on New Year's Eve. Frankly, I prefer to stay home and not risk my safety by sharing the roads with people who've had too much to drink. I'm happy enough sitting at home with my hubby and watching the ball drop on TV or looking out the windows of our house at the fireworks being set off in the neighborhood. I may or may not stay up until midnight local time, depending upon how I feel at the moment.

Of course, I enjoy New Year's Day because I don't have to work. Well, I don't have to get in the car and go to work anyway! I normally spend the day starting the task of putting away the Christmas decorations and returning the house to some resemblance of normal.

There is one thing I do almost every year—make home made ham and bean soup. We usually have ham for Christmas, and it's a great way to use the leftovers! It's a recipe I got from my mother, who got it from her mother. I have no idea how far back it goes, but I'm going to share it with you.

You can use either boneless or bone-in ham for this, but I prefer using bone-in ham. I think it deepens the flavor.

You'll need
     Leftover ham
     Navy beans
     Celery (about 3 stalks for a large pot of soup)
     Carrots (again, the amount you use depends upon how large of a pot of soup you are making. I use enough to give a good amount of "color" to the soup
     Bay leaves—3 or 4. depending upon their size

Cook the peas according to package directions. I use the quick start method, which involves bringing the beans to a full boil before turning down the heat. This allows you to decrease the over-all cooking time, as well as do away with pre-soaking the beans.

Allow the beans to cook for an hour at a medium heat. While they are cooking, remove your leftover ham from the bone and cut it into bite size hunks. I use a about two or three cups in a good-sized pot. If you have extra ham, freeze or refrigerate it. After the beans have cooked for an hour, add the cut-up ham and the ham bone to the pot. You should have enough water in the pot that the ham bone is mostly covered. If not, add more. You don't want to cook the pot dry.

Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium low, Allow the mixture to continue cooking for at least an hour. Check your heat level and water level occasionally. You want to keep the soup cooking but not at a high boil, Add water as needed (but you shouldn't need to if the lid fits well.)

About an hour before you plan to serve the soup, chop the celery and carrots and add to the soup. Also add your bay leaves.

You'll notice I didn't add any seasonings other than the bay leaves to the mixture. The ham has enough salt to season the soup, so you don't need it. (And any other seasoning you used on the ham originally will add additional flavor to the soup.)

Total cook time- 4 hours.

Before serving, remove the ham bone and bay leaves. Serve with warm bread, and you have a feast!

I have made one change to the recipe. I can occasionally find "cranberry beans." They have purple streaks, unlike the navy beans that are white. (No, not pinto beans.) I think they add a little extra "oomph" to the soup.

Tell us what you do for the holiday in the comments below, if you want to!

To find out what Lela Markham does for the holiday, head on over to her blog. HERE.  You can find her books on Amazon. Here's the book  description for The Willow Branch.

A healer must mend a fractured kingdom and bring two enemy races together before a greater enemy destroys them both.

Fate took Prince Maryn by surprise, leaving Celdrya to tear itself apart. A century later an army amasses against the warring remains of the kingdom as prophesy sends a half-elven healer on a journey to find the nameless True King. Padraig lacks the power to put the True King on the throne, yet compelled by forces greater than himself, Padraig contends with dark mages, Celtic goddesses, human factions and the ancient animosities of two peoples while seeking a myth. With all that distraction, a man might meet the True King and not recognize him

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