Did you hear that whooshing sound this morning? It was the sound of the collective sigh of relief that mothers all over Australia breathed out as they packed the last school lunches of the term.
Tomorrow marks the start of the winter school holidays, and despite how much school the Big Sister has missed this term, I’m looking forward to three whole weeks of not searching for her infernal communication book or finding discarded school socks on the kitchen bench.
I have another reason to look forward to tomorrow. We’re off to a sleepy town on Bribie Island for a week’s holiday with some good friends. There will be lots of sitting and chatting and not-muching. No lairey theme parks or hurrying up. No airports or sitting still in fancy restaurants. I’ve been anticipating this week for months. I’m looking forward to exhaling and recharging. I'm going to teach the Big Sister how to play Connect4 and let her beat me. I may be over-ambitious, but I’m hoping to add French knitting and pom pom making to the repertoire of some already accomplished loomers.
It's the storm before the calm here at the moment. We're deep in the inevitable rushing that comes with getting ready to leave the farm for a week. Bearhands is tearing around trying to spray and fertilise and finish things before we go. Experience tells me that some time between now and tomorrow morning, someone will ask “did you pack my favourites?”. I have no idea which jumper-du-jour this will likely be, so I’m washing just about every item of clothing in Casa de Cooker.
I like to leave an empty fridge when we go away, so we’ve been eating our way through its contents this week. When confronted with a single leek and a bulb of wilting celery, I decided pea and ham soup was on the menu. Pea and ham soup can be a little cloying, but adding frozen peas and parsley oil gives this version a fresh lift.
pea and ham soup with parsley oil
1 brown onion
1 celery heart
1 ham bone
750g green split peas
3 cups frozen peas
1 bay leaf
1 bunch parsley
⅓ cup olive oil + a splash for sautéing
salt and pepper to season
Sauté the onion and leek in a heavy based pot until translucent. Add the ham bone and bay leaf, cover with cold water (about four litres). Simmer for 1 - 1½ hours, until the ham is falling off the bone.
Remove the ham bone. Add the finely chopped carrots, celery and the split peas to the soup and simmer until very tender (45 minutes to an hour). When the ham bone is cool enough to handle, coarsely shred the meat and set aside.
Once the split peas are tender, add the frozen peas and simmer until bright green. Puree with a stick blender until smooth, then return the shredded ham to the soup (reserve a little for garnishing if you like). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the parsley oil, combine the parsley and oil in a food processor and blitz until the oil forms a lovely bright green. At this point if you're starring on a television cooking show, I suggest you sieve the oil to remove the pieces of parsley. But if you’re not having Marco Pierre White around for tea, I would probably save the time and the extra washing up and use it as is.
Serve the soup in warm bowls, drizzled with parsley oil with a side of hot buttered toast.
Best I step away from this computer now to start making lists, stacks and piles. Things may be quiet around here next week while I enjoy drinking still-warm cups of tea and being enveloped in French knitting. I'll certainly be here on Wednesday for another I’m Pinning Around party, so don’t forget to pop back and link up. This week’s party is open until midnight, it’s not too late to join in the fun.
do you remember French knitting?
did you breathe a sigh of relief this morning?