Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone! It’s been an interesting past week here in Portland. This is a city that is not accustomed to snow, and it snowed. Turns out SNOW=STANDSTILL. The first week of winter term classes was a washout, and the exam for which I’d been so diligently preparing was cancelled on Friday morning. At first, I’ll admit, I threw a bit of a fit. There’s nothing quite like studying really hard for a major test and then … it gets postponed. But I should have known that anything scheduled for Friday the 13th, the day after a full moon, might be subject to a little cosmic trickery.
Actually, it gave me a good brush-up lesson in flexibility. One of the tenets of classical Chinese medicine is, after all, the idea of adaptability — of living in the Dao — in other words, flowing with whatever comes along, i.e. — not flipping out. So that’s what I’m doing. It’s our resistance to life events, our struggles to hold onto our ideas of how we want things to happen that make us miserable and even sick. I sure do see this in myself, and it is good to have a little reminder that any idea of control even over the next thirty seconds is an illusion! So what can help us stay grounded when life takes its unexpected twists? One thing is real, nourishing food. In food terms, split-pea soup is pretty much the antithesis of a freakout. It’s solid, dependable and will warm your belly while you go with the flow. It was one of my mom’s regular winter all-stars back in Maine … where they do know how to deal with snow!
SNOW DAY SPLIT PEA SOUP:
- 2 cups dried green or yellow split peas
- 1 onion
- few cloves garlic
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes (optional, not traditional, but I like the kick sometimes)
- 4-6 slices bacon or a handful of smoked salmon scraps (I find these at Trader Joes) — or for a vegan version, use Lightlife smokey tempeh strips (Fakin Bakin) or several cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons dried dill
- black pepper
- balsamic vinegar — if you’re not using tomatoes
- olive oil — if you’re not using bacon
- chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 bunch swiss chard or a large bag of fresh or frozen spinach
- 1 or 2 parsnips or carrots
If possible, soak the split peas in water overnight, and drain. This step isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes legumes easier to digest for many people. Dice bacon and onion, and saute together in a stockpot until both are just beginning to brown. If not using bacon, saute one of the other options with onion in a few tablespoons olive oil. Add split peas, diced carrots/parsnips, dill, minced garlic, and broth to cover split peas about 2 – 3 inches, and simmer, covered, until veggies are tender and split peas falling apart. (If you haven’t soaked the split peas, they will need longer simmering, and you’ll want to add the veggies later so they don’t turn to mush.) Add water as needed. Now add tomatoes if using, and simmer for another minute or two, while chopping swiss chard. Add the swiss chard, and remove from heat. Keep pot covered, and the greens will wilt without overcooking. After a few minutes taste, and add salt, pepper and vinegar as needed. Have a bowl, and go frolic in the snow!