Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year, Dammit

To steal brazenly (and to paraphrase) from Jean Shepherd, who wrote (and narrated) the classic seasonal movie A Christmas Story: "In the heat of battle, I wove a tapestry of obscenity, that as far as we know, is still hanging in space over the Civic Center lagoon."
I was making the black-eyed pea soup yesterday, fortified with chopped chard and shredded leftover Kentucky country ham. (For some reason, I just cannot cut ham into cubes; I have to shred it into succulent chunks.)
First disaster: I salted the onions as they cooked in oil. Forgetting that I'd be adding a can of commercial chicken broth (don't ask), sodium and all. Forgetting that the Kentucky ham is freakin' SALTY. Cranky tasted the simmering liquid (I had added something like three times as much plain H2O to the chicken broth), pronounced it salty, and then added diplomatically, "It's nice." I tasted it. It was not nice.
We fetched a clean colander and a large bowl, grabbed the potholders, and dumped at least two-thirds of the super-salinated solution out of the pot. Returned the solids to the pot, added more pure water, and tasted. Full recovery! Huzzah.
Second disaster: The beans and chard are cooked, the ham has relinquished its residual salt (but not too much) to the broth, and we taste for seasoning. TOO HOT. Tongue-burn. Entire umami region of taste buds scalded. Ruins rest of flavor experience for the rest of the night. Except for:
Third disaster: I had read a recipe that suggested throwing some of the ham rind into the pot for extra flavor. Not that we needed extra flavor with this incredible (but freakin' SALTY) ham. But I did it anyway. Of course, I pulled them out of the soup the instant we detected the oversaltiness. But some of the shreds of ham must still have had microscopic remnants of rind attached. And as we all know but sometimes don't bother to remember, country ham can be moldy on the outside. You may recall that I have zero tolerance for the taste of unwanted mold (most cheeses are fine with me, but even there I can get a little spooked). Not every mouthful had a moldy taste; only one or two bites did. Overall, the soup was very good — Cranky adored it. But damn, those moldy mouthfuls just about wrecked it for me.
And this was supposed to be a good-luck-in-the-new-year meal.
Well, I did have good luck with the tripod and the adorable little yellow lotus bowl that Jen (Life Begins at 30) gave me just for photographing difficult food. It got a real workout, Jen.


paz said...

LOL! I love the quote from A Christmas Story. Did you catch the marathon showing of the movie on t.v.? Funny movie. My brothers went to school with the kid, the lead actor.

Well, I'm glad you overcame those disasters. The photo is beautiful. I love that bowl and the soup looks delicious.

Happy Birthday... Dammit!

cookiecrumb said...

I have to skip watching that movie every other year, so that I'll have something to look forward to.

Cyndi said...

Now I'm wondering if I've jinxed my year by not eating blackeyed peas yesterday. For some reason I didn't have any in the pantry, and just blew it off. But your soup looks good. Now I know to stay away from the ham rind.

mrs d said...

So what is this mysterious black eyed pea thing I'm seeing everywhere? I thought they were a musical group. They're a food too? And people eat them on New Year's for good luck?

Baffled Northerner

cookiecrumb said...

A lot tastier than Hootie and the... oh, god, I'm just ending this sentence now.

Jennifer Maiser said...

great picture, cookiecrumb! the bowl is pretty cute, isn't it?

btw - did you see a comment from me yest. wishing you a happy n.y.? i don't think it went through, so happy happy new year to you and cranky!

cookiecrumb said...

Way cute. Thanks again!
I'm afraid I deleted your comment and my reply to you. I was trying to correct the date on that post (which I had saved as a draft). Everything went, including a rare appearance from chilebrown.
So, Jen and Jason: Happy New Year! We want to see you soon. I'll think of something.

Kalyn said...

Oh dear. I fear I may be responsible for the ham rind. See, I only have the cheap supermarket ham, which needs the rind put in the soup, not the expensive gourmet kind like they have down there in California. You have real ham. Sorry about that. I do like the yellow bowl though.

Anxiously awaiting the return of the blog header.

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, Kalyn. I would never rat you out! I got this Kentucky ham on the Internet, BTW... Strictly country, not a California thing.
Header returns soon! ;)

Jennifer Maiser said...

Well, I am sorry you lost the comments, but glad it was you and not me going crazy. :-)

You are putting us slow bloggers to shame with the way you change your banner and look every other day ... I have been meaning to update my look for like a month!

kudzu said...

Happy New Year, Cookiecrumbs! I hate to tell you I've found that freezing country ham increases its salty flavor. I do love it, and miss the gift boxes from my parents who would send it from the South along with other goodies (cracklings, dried field peas with names like lady peas, cream peas, Crowders -- with good meal and grits. Now I have to do like you and order from strangers....I always make hoppin' John for New Year's but because I was going to a big party of Nonbelievers I made a big bowl of marinated blackeyed peas with lots of heat. Hope that will work as well!.....This soggy season has been a test of our stamina in Marin, no?

Sam said...

'real' ham? In California? where?

cookiecrumb said...

It's real ham, Sam, (or gammon, Sammon). From Kentucky: Col. Bill Newsom's It has been wonderful to have leftover baggies of it in the freezer.
So, Kudzu! I didn't know that, obviously. I wonder what the chemical process might be, other than losing moisture, and thereby concentrating the saltiness. I'll tell you, though, this one was Sodium Central from the day it arrived in October. Your marinated peas sound terrific! Great idea.
(Rain. Marin. shudder...)

johng said...

Ok, that's the one!

Stop changing your banner!

Monkey Gland said...

Maybe you've discovered a new taste sensation...Salty and Mouldy Soup.

Sam said...

salt lumps then? remember? you need a little slice of pineapple with that, Cookie.

cookiecrumb said...

Yeah, but without the super-fancy pineapple-location device, I'd probably screw up.

Ruth said...

What a great post - hysterical too!!! I love the photo - the bowl is gorgeous and I hope, by now, your tongue has healed.

Thanks for sharing your disaster and recovery.

Bakerina said...

Best Tri-Partite Kitchen Disaster Story *Ever*.

Thank you, dear cookiecrumb, for visiting and for sharing. Happy New Year to you. :)

My own Christmas Story moment this year was "My mother had not eaten a hot meal in 15 years." :)

cookiecrumb said...

Bakerina: xxx!