Winter. I know you’re all tired of me talking about winter.
I can’t help it. It is so winter and I’m excited. It’s been two years since my last real winter.
With the dropping temperatures, our bodies crave more. They lust for sustenance beyond the summer. More protein, starches. We get fat again so we can insulate ourselves from the bitter cold and survive longer if we run out of food. It’s a natural process.
Food becomes more important during the winter. We remember the fresh berries of summer. Thimbleberries are particularly sought after in the U.P. They’re a unique berry that is only found in a few places in the world. Makes a great jam. We also reflect on our childhood days. Times when the snow was blowing so hard it hurt to push against it. Walking across a yard and somebody yells out for you to get off their roof. They’re a great place to sled from. Insert your own memories. The first time a food touched your soul.
My brother calls it Sea Poop.
What can I say?
I thought about taking a picture of it so I could show you, but I just couldn’t. You have to EXPERIENCE Pea Soup. A picture would never do it justice.
You have to first cook a ham, bone-in is best, for many hours. Slow cooker is fine. Let that thing simmer until the meat starts falling apart. When it’s done you need to put it in the outside shed to freeze. This is a very important step. It allows the flavor to separate from the fat. What you end up with is a jellied brown juice that makes a great broth for the soup.
Prepare the split-peas. Don’t use canned. You must use the dried ones from a bag and cook them for many hours according to package directions. While that’s going on you can tear the ham apart. Chop up some potatoes, carrots, onions. The good stuff. When it’s all done put it together in a pot to cook with spices for another long period of time. Then freeze it.
Thaw out, warm up, and experience!
My mother did that for me. Next year there will be more meaning. When I experience Pea Soup I can smell the extra warmth during those blustery winter days. Part of that is winter to me.
What does winter mean to you?