Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ham for Beans

What a busy day! A small part of me can't believe it's already 5 p.m. ... the rest of me though, is sore from jockeying a baby all morning! Hahah The challenge to this new "big boy" car seat is figuring out how to haul Baby around when he's not just chillin' in his car seat. It's taken its tole on my wimpy muscles today.

This morning Thomas and I went on an adventure to the Farmers' Market. We hadn't been in SO LONG. The spirit of Christmas was definitely present - wreathes, garland, mistletoe (Yes, mistletoe ... it took all of my strength not to buy it just to stand under while gazing up at my Romeo ... I mean .. husband .. ;-) hahah) ... and the last of the season's cabbages, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. We bought some apples (winesaps - they are Ok? a little soft for my liking...) and bacon, as usual ... and as I was waiting for my spectacular all natural applewood smoked bacon to be packaged I saw it. Staring at me. Calling my name from behind the glass. Shyly peaking from behind a sign that read, "Ham for Beans" ... Tis the season for soup, no? The only soup I think of when "Ham for Beans" is present is navy bean soup. The. Best. Cold weather soup. EVER.
I remember Mom making it after Christmas, simmering the giant pot of beans, celery, onion ... lord knows what else ... and that giant ham bone peaking out of the water ... The only time I've made navy bean soup here in Indiana was with this "Ham for Beans" neighbor, smoked hamhocks ... and let me tell you ... it was so salty and smokey ... it was nasty ... so after questioning the young man behind the meat counter to verify that my new friend, "Ham for Beans" was, in fact, NOT overly salt or smokey like it's neighbor ... I bought a big ol' chunk and set my mind to navy bean soup!

Ry was generous enough to prep my beans while T and I were on our way home from the fabric store. And by the way, want to spend an hour in the fabric store? Follow me around as I wander throughout the store carrying a ridiculously cute baby in your arms ... every old granny in the place will stop to say, "Ohhh how cute." or "Is he this good at home?" or "Good job, Mom! He's a cute one!" or "Is he a mommy's boy or daddy's boy?" promptly followed by an equally as sweet anecdote about a grandson or daughter. It was very sweet, and as I tell T ... we use our manners when people say nice things about us, and say "Thank you!" a lot!

... Ok back to soup ... Sometimes when I cook an "old favorite" ... I either follow my mom's recipe or I look at 3-5 OTHER recipes and sort of free form it - taking from one what I like, while leaving out what I don't ... and pulling together ingredients as I work. The end result is always tasty ... sometimes ends up being a favorite, other times ends up falling to the wayside for another experimentation. I love to cook. Almost as much as I love to eat. Har har, heard that one before?

About an hour after T was down for his nap, I began to chop the "soup trinity" - carrots, celery, onions - and get my knife into that bony chunk of "Ham for Beans" ... and of course, once I turned the heat onto the pot and sautee said trinity, up popped little T! So I plopped him into the sink as my sous chef, and managed to snap a ridiculously cute picture of him playing with a giant celery stick and a fist full of green onions that were sitting by the sink in some water. Not only does the little guy have an eye for color (ie. fabric shopping), but he's a beast in the kitchen ... where did he learn his skills?

As Thomas nears his 6 month birthday that excitement bubbles up inside of us as we anticipate that exciting ritual of introducing solid foods ... Some mom friends of mine introduced me to the concept of Baby Led Weaning ... where you basically give baby what you are eating, but obviously in more simplified form, and see where he goes with it ... hence the celery stick! Not only is it curious for the senses to figure out - fragrant, cool, smooth yet lumpy, tickly on the end - but he can chew it with out really doing any damage to it ... and because it was so long and he's pretty uncoordinated, I knew he wouldn't get it shoved down his throat =P to put it bluntly. An example of foods to start with would be soft banana, chunks of steamed sweet potatoes, avocado slices, etc. I don't know enough about it to say, "YES! This is what we are doing!" but I am definitely curious to learn more and talk to our pediatrician about it at our appointment in a few weeks! As my dad said, "Ohh jeez how did we every successfully raise 3 children with out all of these BOOKS and WEBSITES ..." hahah - I am eager to begin to introduce foods to T in a way that is natural and intuitive ... and that's how baby led weaning seems to be! Why not hand him a chunk of avocado as opposed to spooning liquidy muck into his face? We'll see!

Here is how our soup came out:

Diced up 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 2 stalks of celery ... sauteed them in
some olive oil before adding 1 clove garlic, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary (about a 2" chunk from the garden) and a tiny sprig of thyme ... heat til fragrant, and add those gorgeous, steamy navy beans - they smell a little oniony, don't they? I love how they smell. Add the ham you chunked off the bone and that wild bone. Don't worry, any ham left over will fall right off into your soup, or gently prod away with a wooden spoon. (nothing is better than cooking with a wooden spoon) Add enough water to cover your ingredients.

Once Ryan got home, he asked if we could toss in some tomatoes ... so we did! I think this wonderful concoction simmered for 2-3 hours, and believe me ... it is fabulous!

In other news ... Thomas traveled across the carpet today! I was sitting on the couch, minding my own business, watching T play, watching Parenthood on netflix, probably texting SOMEONE ... when I was taken by how T was playing ... He had elected to roll onto his belly! He hates being on his belly ... but he seemed O.k. Within 5 minutes he had rolled belly-to-back-to-belly-to-back often enough to travel 4-5 feet away from where I set him!! I was home alone, as Ryan was grading ... so I picked up the telephone and called my sister Gisela - surely the only one to "get" why I was screaming and crying in happiness. It's amazing how fast time flies when you've got your mind on caring for such a wonderful gift. The first time he rolled was a Wednesday night - I only remember because Ryan was grading - and he didn't roll again for 3 weeks ... so knowing T ... I'm sure it'll be another 3 weeks before he does it again. I'll have to catch some video footage to please some of my audience =P hahah

As our new friend, "Ham for Beans" says - Thank you, call again!

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