Every time I think about the upcoming week I hyperventilate a little. Patrick has an ENT appointment tomorrow and then an Other appointment on Thursday. Tomorrow everyone tumbles and Wednesday night Patrick swims. Thursday Steve's Dad is coming to stay with us for a long weekend. Thursday night my book club meets to have a festive drink and make our reading selections for next year (remind me, I'll share the list.) Saturday is Steve's birthday. Saturday Caroline has Chinese class. Also on Saturday Steve's birthmother and her husband will be arriving to spend two nights with us. This will be the first meeting between representives from his birth family and his family. Finally and, again, also on Saturday, we are throwing what I thought was going to be a very small dinner party to celebrate Steve's birthday, ring in the holidays, introduce family to friends... we have nineteen people coming for dinner. And no I don't have nineteen chairs, even when I count my folding desk chair. Hell, we don't have nineteen chairs if I include my bathroom desk stool. I'm planning to ponder the logistics of all of this at some unspecified future moment between now and Saturday and in the meantime I keep reminding myself of the following: as long as you want people to be in your house and you convey this fact everyone will have a great time. Wine helps too.
Right now I am writing this, poaching shrimp because I started thinking about parties and it made want cocktail sauce (I just made one so spicy I think it made my eardrums bleed. It definitely cleared my sinuses - I wonder if I should feed it to Patrick?) doing my Christmas shopping online and making an effort to remember what I ordered besides terrariums. I'm very hot on terrariums right now for some reason. I am ordering from Young Explorers and for all I know they are utter, um, garbage (so don't take this as a recommendation) but they look cute and I like the idea of growing things. We are forcing paperwhite bulbs on the kitchen counter and Caroline and Edward helped dump the dirt into the pot so they feel all proprietary. I expect their own terrariums will be a big hit. Caroline is getting a butterfly garden and Edward is getting produce. Patrick is occasionally nosy online so I'm not saying.
In addition to the shrimp I am also making split pea soup at the moment. If I do say so myself I make an excellent split pea soup. It's not fancy. It's not modern. But it tastes good and it is ready in an hour. I like both of those qualities in a soup.
Split Pea Soup
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 c. diced celery
1 c. diced carrot
1 T minced garlic
1 bay leaf
16 oz dried split peas
1 ham hock
8 c. chicken broth
2 c. frozen peas
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven until hot. Add onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, garlic and saute for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat and cover, then cook about ten minutes stirring occasionally. Add split peas and stir to blend, about one minute. Add chicken broth and ham hock, cover and simmer for about one hour. Then remove bay leaf and discard. Remove ham hock and shred meat when it is cool enough to handle. Stir ham and frozen peas into soup and serve.
The frozen peas add pop but if you want additional texture you can top with croutons.
I'll spare you the picture of split pea soup but with the bright green peas and the orange carrots and the sage colored pea mush it looks quite pretty, really.