Bad Habits Don’t Always Die

Growing up, I was smack dab in the middle of a whole bunch of boys. And as it was customary wayyyy back then, girls were expected to learn crap like cooking, baking, ironing, etc. Looking back on it, it wasn’t bad training for life. Except for one thing.

So, I was the seventh of ten kids and mostly during my childhood, it was mostly three older brothers and two younger. The siblings on either end were girls, but one eleven years older and the other eleven years younger. So, it was me and five boys.

So cooking in our house was usually for eight, give or take. When you learn to cook for such a large group, it is all about quantity.  But you can imagine what it takes to pull together food for such a group… it was mostly casseroles, soups and lots and lots of mac and cheese. Now all these years later, I still am having difficulty in keeping the quantity in check.

One of the mainstays of my families was our traditional navy bean soup. Whenever we had ham, it was a whole ham/bone in and after the hungry pack of wolves known as my brothers got through with it, there was never much left. But that bone… it would become the chief ingredient of the soup.

So, into a pot filled with water that bone was go. It would simmer for at least a whole day, sometimes more. At the same time, the navy beans were dumped into a pot and left alone to soak. Finally, the beans were added to the soup stock and the bone removed (any meat left was long boiled off); potatoes peeled, cut up and added.2015-04-17 20.11.42

Then the whole thing was left again to simmer on the back of the stove. The great thing about navy bean soup is that beans and potatoes could constantly be added to stretch the stock. And as everything continued to cook, the soup became thicker as a result of the break down of the potatoes. The longer it cooked, the better it tasted. Even thawing the soup after freezing made it taste just a little more. And it could be stretched and stretched… it would feed the brood that I grew up with.

So, in our little family, having a whole ham is pretty unthinkable… we would have way more ham than we could ever eat. Even a half-ham is a bit much, but there are some traditions that you just don’t mess with. After boiling the ham bone, I had enough stock to split it in half and make two pots. The same steps were followed and we ended up with lots of soup.

2015-04-17 20.11.54The great thing is, The Kid loves this stuff. He hasn’t always had the same fondness for some of the inventive food that I grew up eating. But this is one indulgence that I happily make for him. And because of bad habits… I made enough soup for a small army!

The only downside is the human result of eating beans day after day. 🙂


Change-Up In The Line-Up

Even though we don’t “do” Christmas in my house, there is definitely a different feel. We sort of slacked off the last couple of days in the garage, finishing up the numerous projects and spent more time just being together.

One family tradition that I still do, is our famous homemade bean soup. We have ham one day and then we munch on what’s left, in the meantime, the bone is thrown into a big soup pan and we bring it to a boil and then it simmers for hours over the next couple of days. Navy beans are soaked and then added to the mixture, and then more cooking. Finally, potatoes are peeled and cut up and added, then more cooking. We bring it to a boil and then its moved to the back burner and it simmers pretty much all day.

DSCN2979We feast on this for days… today it was breakfast, lunch AND dinner! When the level drops down too much, we add more beans and more potatoes – this time we actually added more ham. When I was growing up, this was a staple in my house. This fed us much more than you could imagine, potatoes and beans were cheap and could make things stretch a helluva long way.

I also indulged in a little baking. If we aren’t the slaves to our habits, I don’t know what. Growing up, we always kept the ends of breads and day old buns, kept in plastic bags in the back of the freezer. There were always ways to use these pieces, even if it came down to thawing and eating as is!


Well, I still do this. Bread ends, hamburger and hotdog buns that didn’t get eaten, croissants and bagels that went uneaten. Well, I pulled them all out and sliced and diced them into small bread cubes and lay them out on baking sheets and getting them all toasted.

Then I pulled out my favorite cookbook. I think that this is the first cookbook I bought once I turned eighteen. And I’ve used it often. I mean, just check out this well worn book.DSCN2982Inside and out…


DSCN2983For me, this is the only cookbook for me. Including the ever popular bread pudding. The mere fact that when I was done prepping the bread cubes I had enough for 5 double-batches should tell me something, but I simply bagged up what I wasn’t going to use and pre-packaged them for ease for the next baking session(s).

It turned out really, really good. One of my best, I think. In fact, before I could even get photos for the blog, other members of the household had helped themselves to almost half of it! Good thing I made two pans, so I might be able to have some myself!

So, with that, I am snuggling onto the couch with The Kid and binge watching “Roseanne”. Hope everyone has the best holiday and celebrating in whatever way that makes you happy.


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