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MH: I was digging around in my freezer this morning and counted four and a half bags of frozen peas. They’re taking up almost as much room as the ice cubes filling the ice bin. What to have for lunch was decided then and there, a favorite pasta of ours: Lillie’s Pasta with Peas & Ham. (You’ll find the recipe in “Canal House Cooking, Volume N°6, The Grocery Store”.) I halved the recipe, and because I had smoked salmon on hand, used some of that instead of the ham (which I’m out of right now). It goes a little something like this: Cook 8 ounces of rigatoni in a pot of boiling water until tender. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add 1/2 cup half-and-half, 2–4 tablespoons grated parmesan, and half bag (5–8 ounces) frozen sweet peas. Cook, stirring everything together until the peas are heated through. I added some grated lemon zestand salt and pepper. Just before serving I stirred in a couple ounces of smoked salmon and chopped chives (the first from the garden). I always think of Lillie, the recipe’s namesake, when I make this simple, delicious dish. It makes me smile to think she was just a child when she first made it for us ten years ago.

CH: I had every intention of making a proper lunch, then time got away from me. It has been a dreary, damp day but a case of cabin fever made me forgo eating (no!) and instead take Bob, the studio dog, for a walk. The beautiful wild cherry trees along the towpath were a feast for our eyes. Bob and I will have to double up on dinner!

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

Canal House:

Our home pantries and fridges are fairly-well stocked for now as we comply with the Stay-At-Home order in the effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. Can’t even believe we’re writing a sentence like that. But here we are. Happy to be at our respective homes with our loved ones, able to be together, and filling the kitchen with the sounds and smells of home cooking, and our tums with good food. Nourishment on so many levels. We are going to post what each of us is making for our respective lunches (breakfasts or dinners). Without giving traditional recipes we’ll do it the old-fashioned way, we’ll talk you through what we are cooking.  

MH:

Today for lunch, we each made soup, a natural place to start. I had a smoked ham hockstashed way in the back of my fridge that needed to be used. Into a pot of water it went and simmered on the stove for a few hours to soften the meat and make a broth. As lunchtime neared, I sweated some diced onions, carrots, celery, and a little garlic in olive oil in a soup pot, then added little French green lentils, and seasoned everything with S & P, coriander seeds, a bay leaf, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.The ham broth went into the pot next, covering the lentil mixture by a few inches. Once the broth came to a simmer, the shredded ham hock meat went in and simmered along with the lentils until they were tender, less than 30 minutes. Lentil soup for lunch, and enough leftover for a few more meals.

CH:

I live in the country so even back in the “good days” when I went to the supermarket, I tend to buy big (so I don’t have to go back for while). Yesterday, it was time to deal with, and cut up five whole chickens. Nash, my grandson, asked if I would teach him how to do it. Of course! So, I sat a plump whole chicken on its bottom, with its back facing me. Then, using a sharp knife (kitchen shears are safer), I showed him to cut down along the backbone on both sides. He took over for me, removing the backs and the tips of the wings. These parts, plus water, an onion, a carrot and a couple ribs of celery, simmered into a rich delicious stock in about 3 hours. Afetr I strained the stock we ended up with four quart containers of golden elixir. Meanwhile Nash, being a quick learner, cut up the birds, and slid three whole spatchcocked birds into zip-locks, to be tucked into the freezer. Then I showed him how to cut up rest into parts. He’ll never have to buy another package of boneless skinless anythings!

When lunch time came around, chicken soup seemed the obvious thing. I heated up some of the broth, added diced carrot and celery, and half a chicken breast, which, once it was cooked and cooled, I tore into chunky shreds then added them to the pot. Oh yes, there were long, fat, cooked noodles too.  I ladled everything into bowls, added a garnish of­ celery leaves and chives and we ate like kings. Now we are going on a walk. Eat well, stay healthy—please. 

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