I was cleaning out the pantry. It has to be done on occasion. It should probably be done more often than every 5 years, though. This was a goal I set for myself after cleaning out my mother-in-laws kitchen when she was sick before she died. She had stuff in her pantry that was 10 or more years old. And stuff in her refrigerator that was just as old. I swore that when I was done taking care of her I would clean up my own mess.
This is a warning! Don't swear when you are tired and stressed!
Now I am cleaning out my mess. It started with getting rid of stuff I don't use- like kitchen items, clothing items, bathroom items, etc. Just surplus stuff that had gathered through the years. I don't need three broken electric razors, old disposable razors, and old toothbrushes. I am not going to clean with the toothbrushes, either.
After doing a big sort and toss in all the regular rooms, I peeked into the pantry. LO! there were jars of things I had canned that were 5 years old. It was time to do some serious cleaning.
So I pulled them out and set them on the counter. That was 5 months ago. They just sat there taking up space and being a reminder that I am so busy I can't get anything done. Today I emptied 10 quart jars of peaches, tomato sauce and pickled beets. I still have 5 mystery jars on the counter waiting for me to get the nerve to open them. These jars don't have dates or names. I don't know what I made or when and that alone is reason to dump the contents. But there is also a curiosity factor. What exactly is this stuff?
While I was in the panty, I found about 8 jars of various dried beans and peas. I like to make split pea soup and black eyed peas. I like to make soups with beans and vegetables. But mostly I use canned beans because I don't have time to cook for hours and soak over night.
Again, the swearing thing. I swore to use up the beans before the end of the summer. That was last summer, by the way. I had completely forgotten that swear. Stuff in the pantry is behind closed doors so it doesn't really exist. Now it was in my face, telling me to get out the pot and cook. The first batch of black eyed peas went in to soak.
Now when they beans or peas are done, they are delicious. And once I commit to soaking and cooking, I actually stay home and do it. I can say that I have emptied 1/2 of one quart of dried black eyed peas.
This is the recipe and instructions:
2 cups dried black eyed peas
1 gallon water
Soak for two hour or over night. I change the water two or three times after a couple of hours. The little skins start to slip off and float. I like to let the drain off.
If you soak overnight, the beans will start to sprout and cook faster.
Empty the soaking water and refill the pot with about 1 gallon of water. Heat to a boil then turn the temp down to medium/low but slightly higher than simmer. Let them cook with NO SALT for about two hours adding water as necessary. I don't put a lid on the pot. And I skim the foam off periodically because I don't like it. If you put a lid on, you need to turn the temperature down more so that it doesn't over boil. Check liquid level every 1/2 hour and increase as needed with fresh water.
After about two hours, or when beans are soft enough to chew easily but still grainy, add 1 cup of crumbled bacon and 1 or more teaspoons of salt. I like to finely chop about 1/4 of an onion and add that, too. Cook another hour keeping an eye on the water. You can use ham or smoked chicken/turkey instead of bacon. Or you can use some celery and skip the meat altogether.
The beans are done when they are soft and almost mushy- just a little bit of resistance when you chew.
After I make these things, I remember why I buy dried peas and beans. I just need to do this more often than once a year.
And I should probably not buy so much at one time. 1/2 pound dried black eyed peas is enough for 6 or more servings.