(Note: This was written at the beginning of October, 2010. It just took us a while to get the blog actually up and running.)
When we came back from our honeymoon on Tuesday, I had taken the rest of the week off, and decided to get some serious cooking in. I wanted to start with a recipe from the amazing family cookbook my Aunt Carmen put together, containing recipes from my aunt, uncle, and cousin, as well as my grandma and great-grandma! Since I had the time off, I went big — cinnamon buns from my grandma! These are the type of cinnamon buns where you knead the dough, let it rise, roll it out, make the buns, let it rise… a 4-5 hour process. Definitely the right type of recipe for a day off work (and even still, I didn’t finish until 10pm).
In the meantime, we also needed to eat, you know, dinner, so I flipped through to see what sounded good for dinner as well. My husband and I decided on the “family favorite” of Uncle Al’s split pea soup. With barley and keilbasa in it, this is not your traditional boring split pea soup… it is really yummy. Oh, and since I would be spending most of my time incanting “rise, rise, RISE!” to the cinnamon buns, the other nice thing is it is easy to make. Throw half the stuff in a pot, simmer, throw everything else in, simmer.
When I got tired of whispering sweet nothings to both the buns and the soup, I realized I had “peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, 9 days old” in my head. So, I did what any wired cook would do… and looked it up on the interwebs. It turns out, that “pease porridge” was a very common meal during the Middle Ages in England; it has lots of protein and fiber, and was cheap… and could be around for weeks without refrigeration (eww) (see information from Vegetarians in Paradise).
I also checked out wikipedia. The best thing about wikipedia (Pease Porridge Hot), is that they throw random information into each article, and then link that random information, so that you can read more and more random information until you start to twitch like an addict. Like, did you know that pease porridge was often eaten with faggots? And, faggots, of course, are traditional meatballs made of pig’s offal (and, offal, for those of you who aren’t sure, are internal organs like hearts and liver — my husband assures me that anyone who listens to death metal knows the word “offal.”) Apparently, the best known brand of faggots are Mr. Brain’s (for those of you, like me, who know an amazingly smart Brian, and therefore often misspell Brian as Brain, that is not what happened here — it really is Mr. Brain). Here is a commercial for Mr. Brains Pork Faggots. No, seriously, go watch it, it’s really short… Mr. Brains Pork Faggots. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry right now.
ANY-HOO… back to the food! The split pea soup was yummy, and fun to watch turn from water and peas to thick creamy goodness. Next time though, rather than choose a turkey keilbasa, we will try to find a low fat beef or pork keilbasa (the recipe just said a low-fat keilbasa, we picked the turkey). The turkey didn’t quite have the richness that beef or pork would have. It was still yummy though!
The cinnamon rolls turned out really well too (for those other 3 people out there with the family recipe book, we did “A real family favorite” – version 1). I decided to ignore how much butter and sugar went into them, and just started at it. We replaced the milk with soy milk for my husband (he can have some butter if he is careful, but milk will really get him). Oh, and by “kneading for 10 minutes”, I assumed what that meant was “throw in the mixer for 4-6 minutes”. Close enough, right? I got to use my new mixer! When I read the instructions for the mixer, it looked like it didn’t need to be kneaded in there for as long as you normally do by hand, so, meh, I guessed. They turned out fine.
My favorite part about this recipe (and many of the recipes we received) is that halfway through it, you realize that there are a bunch of ingredients for the filling that aren’t at the top — luckily, we had brown sugar and cinnamon, and — who wants raisins in their cinnamon buns anyways? Oh, and then the glaze is at the bottom of the recipe – and we had powdered sugar and, well, more butter. I got to use 3 forms of sugar in one recipe! Anyways, finally around 10pm, we were done — here is what they looked like:
Yummy gooeyness in the middle! I might add more glaze next time, because it is soooo good. Ready for the closeup?
And now, for the good stuff!
Uncle Al’s Split Pea Soup
16 oz. green split peas
1/2 cup barley
7 oz. diced low-fat smoked sausage or kielbasa
9 cups water
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Add the split peas, barley, and sausage to the water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer an additional 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. If desired, more water can be added to reduce thickness.
Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls
2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk, warmed (or potato water with mashed potatoes)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick butter or margarine, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
5 1/2 cups flour (about)
1/2 cup butter melted
Dissolve yeast by sprinkling it over warm water in a cup. Stir, then let stand a minute or two to completely dissolve. Combine milk, sugar, salt, butter and eggs. Beat well. Then blend in the yeast. Add about half of the flour, beating mixture until it is smooth. Gradually beat in enough of the remaining flour until dough holds together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board; knead about 10 minutes. Let the dough rest about 10 minutes. Knead again, 8 to 10 minutes, sprinkling on additional flour if needed to prevent sticking. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover and place in warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about two hours. Do not let it over rise. Roll into a rectangle 12 x 30 inches 1/4 inch thick. Brush with melted butter. Filling: 1 cup brown sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon and if desired 1/2 cup chopped nuts or raisins. Sprinkle filling over melted butter on dough. Roll dough up and seal. Slice with sharp knife or string 1″ to 1 1/2″ slices. Place with cut side down on the well-buttered baking pans, rolls just touching. Let rise until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Bake in a 350-degree oven 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Glaze with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon softened butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons hot water.