My husband LOVES cheesecake. We were in New York City in October (my first time) and every day he ordered cheesecake at a bakery in the subway terminal to take back to the hotel room. When we’re eating out, he always orders cheesecake for dessert. I have made varying kinds of cheesecake; chocolate, baked, unbaked, etc. and this recipe is the most authentic and best, in my opinion. It’s also a super simple recipe. I should make it more often, but it’s so, so rich! This recipe comes from The Frugal Gourmet: On Our Immigrant Ancestors by Jeff Smith (1990, William Morrow and Company, Inc.).

  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for crust)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (for crust)
  • 1-1/2 cups sour cream (I used light sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (for filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (I used vanilla paste, thus the specks of brown in the cheesecake)
  • 1 lb. cream cheese, broken into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter (for filling)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8-inch or 9-inch springform pan. I use an 8.5″ pan (since my 9″ broke about fifteen years ago and I haven’t replaced it). [A side note: I cut a round of parchment paper and placed it in the bottom of my springform pan, then pressed in the crumbs mixture. At the end, I was able, using a very large spatula, to slide the entire cheesecake onto a plate while at the same time peeling off the parchment paper. This was really an unnecessary step, but I just wanted to get it out and off the springform bottom. It worked splendidly, but could have so easily gone awry.]

In a food processor, blend the sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and vanilla until it is very smooth and well blended. Add the cream cheese and process until it is smooth, scraping down the bowl a time or two. While blending, pour the 2 Tbsp. melted butter through the top of the machine. Pour mixture over the top of the graham crust.

The flecks of brown are from using vanilla paste, which I really like to use better than vanilla extract.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 45-55 minutes. I give mine a little shake to see if the center is overly soft. It’s hard to tell, just do your best. Turn your broiler on and broil the cheesecake just until the top begins to have attractive spots of brown. I think I left mine a few seconds too long for “attractive.” Oh, well.

  • Optional Raspberry Sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups raspberry juice/pulp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Boil together for about 5-10 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened, but not to jelly stage.

The cheesecake stands very well alone, but because I have a lot of frozen raspberries, I made a raspberry sauce to go with this deliciousness. I’m not a fan of raspberry seeds so I pressed my home-frozen package of thawed raspberries through a sieve and came up with 1-1/2 cups of juice/pulp. These type of sauces are not fussy so you can do your own thing regarding amounts. I was looking for something that would remain a semi-thick liquid when brought down to room temperature. I didn’t want a hot sauce to melt my cheesecake slices. At the same time I wanted the sauce to pour when I was ready for it. This worked very well. I gave the sauce a stir right before serving. I used a gravy boat to store and pour.

I have made these for many years. The recipe is based on one found in an old Bear Valley Elementary School cookbook: Bear Fare 1993-1994. The original recipe calls for a streusel topping, but I’ve never added that. Too much fuss. Mostly, I make these and toss them into the freezer to eat later. The other day I had about a cup of leftover sweet potatoes, a couple old wrinkled apples, and two leftover egg yolks. I’ll give you this substitute recipe at the end, but just know that’s what’s pictured here.

  • Ingredients
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (I used 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed or solid-pack canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups peeled and finely chopped apples
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)

Prepare 18-24 muffin cups with paper liners or by greasing. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl combine the eggs, pumpkin, and vegetable oil. Add these liquid ingredients to the large bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in the apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle with cinnamon (optional). Bake 25-35 minutes until muffin tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Substituting sweet potatoes: I used approximately a cup of mashed sweet potato instead of pumpkin. I tried using 1 egg and 2 egg yolks, but the batter was not completely moistened, so I added a second whole egg. I’m not sure if this was because sweet potato is drier than pumpkin or what. Next time I’ll use 3 whole eggs.

Legs tired, we chose an outside table at a restaurant in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and collapsed into chairs, ordering dos cervezas. It was a pleasant afternoon on the plaza, watching the world go by. We asked the waitress what was good to eat and she recommended Plantain Cups. They really hit the spot that day. Once home, I tried to recreate the dish because of how delicious they are. Plantains are readily available here, but I’ve never cooked with them before. I found a recipe at SimpleByClara on her Dominican Cooking website and used her basics of how to make the cups. They are really yummy and quite easy to make. I’m still not sure how to select a plantain at the grocery store and I suspect what I’m choosing are not as good as they could be, but it’s a work in progress.

  • Ingredients for Cups
  • 3 large (or 4 medium) ripe plantains, peeled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Oil for basting

Cut the plantains in half and place into a large saucepan. Try to disabuse yourself of the notion that these are bananas. They’re not. They’re more like potatoes. Add water to cover and add salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until plantains are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove plantains from water and let cool a little. Mash the plantains. I always end up using a food processor, which works well. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not cooking them long enough or if they’re old plantains. In any event, mine are always too hard to mash by hand, but the food processor works great.

Prepare a muffin tin by spraying or greasing. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Mashed plantains are sticky, and so it’s easy to form the cups. Grab a handful of mashed plantain and press it into a muffin cup. Make them very compacted. I got 10 plantain cups last time. Brush oil lightly over each cup. I used olive oil, but any type of oil should work.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and fill with your favorite topping.

The ones we had in Puerto Rico were filled with little tidbits of spiced beef and a tasty sauce. Here is what and how I did what’s pictured (they were delicious), but I’ll probably never make these the same way twice.

I cut beef Tri-Tip Steak strips into 1″ cubes. I sprinkled taco seasoning over the meat. I preheated a skillet on high heat and added a bit of olive oil. I added the meat to the pan and seared it on all sides as well as possible. I removed the meat from the pan and set it aside. To the skillet I added diced onion, diced sweet mini peppers, and diced garlic. I let it saute until the onion was translucent, then I added some chopped jalepeno peppers. I stirred the beef back into the pan and cooked a bit longer. I scooped a little bit of the filling into each plantain cup, then sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese. I baked at 425 degrees F for about 10 minutes. I served these topped with mashed avocado, fresh jalepeno slices, and salsa. Umm, umm, good!

Alternative fillings would be spiced chicken, cheddar cheese, beans and/or corn. Whatever you want to do will be great.

Another reason I like these is that it takes the place of wheat or gluten foods at dinner time. It’s something I can feed my relative with the wheat allergy.

I made this last week and there was none left after the meeting. Yummy! Since it is March now, I used previously frozen rhubarb. Last summer I picked rhubarb and froze only small, tender stalks. The bigger stalks I used while fresh and did not freeze. It seems to have made a difference for the frozen rhubarb. It baked well and was not stringy.

The recipe was based upon one from LizTheChef. My cake batter did not spill out of the cake pan, but it did puff up to the extent that the edges were not inside the pan. This made it a little tricky to get out. Also, I felt it could have stayed in the oven another five minutes for the center to be completely done. Not everyone who ate it agreed with that assessment. And like I said, it was gone . . . fast!

  • Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups ricotta, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen and thawed (if using thawed, let it drain completely — do not press it)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9″ cake pan by spraying or greasing, then laying a circle of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan. Spray lightly again.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl stir together the eggs, ricotta, vanilla, and orange peel. Fold into the dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in the melted butter. Stir in 1 cup of the rhubarb.

Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup rhubarb, try to lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle the top with 2 Tbsp. sugar. Bake 50-55 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes and then turn out onto rack, remove parchment, and invert so sugary crust is topside. Let cool completely then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Serve. Prepare to be wowed.

This was a mish-mash of several different recipes. I served a spiral-sliced honey ham for my husband’s birthday a few days ago and had quite a bit leftover. I have a grinder attachment to my Kitchen Aid mixer and so I can easily make the ground ham. Another well-used appliance that I have is a commercial-style chamber vacuum sealer. I buy ground pork in bulk and then divide it into 1/2# and 1# packages to toss in the freezer. It works well for being prepared to make Egg Roll in a Bowl, Chorizo Burgers, Cold Pork Pie, and now these Baked Ham Balls.

  • Ingredients for Ham Balls
  • 2# ground fully-cooked ham
  • 1# ground pork
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • Ingredients for Sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Mix all ham ball ingredients together in a very large mixing bowl. Form into large balls, about 3″ diameter. You will get about 20-24 meatballs. Place meatballs into the prepared baking dish. They should all fit into the one pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While the ham is baking the first time, mix the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Sugar should be dissolved. Remove from heat.

Remove ham balls from oven and pour sauce over them as evenly as possible. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes more.

Remove from oven and serve warm. Yield: 8-10 servings.

So, in December I purchased a tortilla press . . . and a tortilla warmer . . . and a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina . . . and some parchment paper pre-cut into rounds. I realize I was purchasing my own Christmas present, but I’m quite happy with it. I try never to buy anything that only has one use and discourage others from buying them for me. I don’t know what got into me, but I’ve found a place to stow it so it’s all good. Both the recipes found below here are gluten-free. I guess I better say that the Sope recipe below does not require a press or any special equipment. I only used the press for tortillas.

There’s a grocery store in Palm Springs, California called Cardenas and it is like heaven on earth. You can smell the fresh tortillas from the in-store factory. I once filled up a large cooler with fresh produce purchased at Cardenas for about 17 USD and the same produce would have cost me around 100 USD here in Anchorage. Cardenas is a magical place. It reminds me of the big covered markets you see in Mexico full of sights and smells. It’s always hard for me to decide whether to get something they’ve already cooked at the Deli counter or buy the ingredients and make the dishes myself. I usually do both. It drives my mother crazy, “Why are these rice and beans in my refrigerator? What are you going to do with them?” I answer her that by the time I go back home, I’ll have eaten all of it.

My husband took this picture to show the joyous market called Cardenas.

Corn Tortillas

I used the recipe from Isabel Eats. Her tortillas get nice brown marks on them, but I couldn’t get mine to do that. My tortillas were still quite fabulous, so I’m thinking it doesn’t matter? The first two times I made these I used Bob’s Red Mill Golden Corn Flour Masa Harina. It’s very yellow with a grainy texture. The third time I made these, I ran about 1/2 cup short of Bob’s and made it up with Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour. The color is white and the texture is fine, like cake flour. It threw me off, but I sallied forth and came up with a delicious product. A word about Masa Harina: it is ground corn that has been processed with lime (not lime fruit, but lime stone). According to web sources, ground corn is not the same and will not work the same. You need to use Masa Harina.

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups Masa Harina
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Makes 12 tortillas, about 6″ diameter. Stir the ingredients together until it’s a smooth ball. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit for an hour. Divide the dough into twelve pieces (about 2″ in diameter) and roll each piece into a ball. Keep the dough balls covered with the damp kitchen cloth as much as possible.

As I said earlier, I use parchment paper rounds, top and bottom, to keep my dough from sticking to the press. Most people cut slits in two gallon-size plastic bags and put one bag on the top and one on the bottom. I haven’t tried that yet. Place a dough ball slightly off-center on the parchment on the press and place the second parchment round on it. Flatten the dough ball slightly with your hand and then lean on the body of the press to flatten more. Finish off by pressing on the handle. Be mindful not to break the shear pin that attaches the handle to the body. Pushing down on the body of the press should do most of the work.

I have an old non-stick griddle and heated it thoroughly over medium-high heat. I sprayed it with non-stick spray and carefully lay the tortilla to fry. I left it for about thirty seconds and then turned it over. I do not want crispy tortillas. I want them soft and easy to manipulate.

My process was to roll a piece into a ball, press it, and put it on the griddle. While that was cooking, I’d press the next one, etc. A dozen tortillas took me about 50 minutes. I’m usually trying to do too many things at once, so it probably could have gone much faster if this was all I had to do. As they were cooked, I put them into my tortilla warmer.

The first time I made these, I used them to make Shrimp Enchiladas. What a glorious flavor! Oh my, oh my! There is just no comparison to store-bought tortillas. My second tortilla-making venture I made tacos with leftover Cuban Pork Roast and grated cheese. The third time I did this, I used more of the leftover Cuban Pork Roast and made enchiladas.

Sopes

I had bought the Sopes from Cardenas one time, but I wouldn’t know where to purchase something like that here. That is to say I did know what my end-product was supposed to look like. This recipe comes from Kristin at Yellow Bliss Road. I looked all over the web and Pinterest and found a lot of Sopes recipes, but they all called for a lot of finagling. Most of them say to press the dough, lightly fry them, then turn up the edges and deep-fry them. Oh, please. No, thank you. It’s hard enough just cooking things once! Kristin’s recipe does not require a press and she only cooks them once. While I was doing this I thought I had made a huge mistake and I would never, ever make them again. I’d have a perfect disc with a lip and then it would stick to my hand and tear. Oy! Keep your hands as wet as possible. HOWEVER, once they were finished, I realized they were darn near perfect and incredibly delicious. I WILL make these again.

  • Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups Masa Harina
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cooking oil (My skillet had about 3/4″ in it)
  • Toppings like refried beans, shredded or ground meat, cheese, salsa, lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, sour cream (whatever strikes your fancy)

Makes about 9 Sopes, approximately 3″ diameter. Stir all ingredients, except cooking oil, together to form dough. Heat the cooking oil over medium high heat until a drop of water sizzles when it touches. Divide dough into golf-ball sized portions and roll into ball shapes. Keep remaining dough balls covered with a damp kitchen towel while working with the others. Using your hands, press each dough ball into a disc of about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. Pinch the edges of the disc to form a lip.

If you keep your hands wet, you’ll have greater success forming the discs and the lips. Place the disc, lip side up, in the hot oil and let fry for a little while. Try to get a brown spot on the bottom. Carefully flip the disc over onto the lip and let fry a little longer. I thought this would be a huge mess and fall apart, but it hardens fairly quickly in the oil and becomes easy to get a spatula underneath. You could probably even use tongs. Your goal is to have a crispy edge, but a soft center. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain. I did three Sopes at a time in my frying pan and it didn’t take long at all.

These are now ready to serve, and if you’re using cold toppings like lettuce, sour cream, or tomato, you’re done. I spread a tablespoon of warm refried beans over the bottom of each Sope and then spread warm leftover Cuban Pork Roast over that and sprinkled with grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese on top. Then I popped them into the oven at 400 degrees for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese melted. These were heavenly delicious. I topped them with sliced fresh jalapenos and salsa. They were easy to eat by hand. I see this being a hearty game-day snack.

This is my new favorite way to make polenta. It is so simple and versatile. I found the basic recipe at dinnerthendessert.com. I’ve only ever made half Sabrina’s recipe because it makes too much for us. Even so, I’d say half her recipe still serves six people. I think we could get away with halving it again, but I’ve been pretty happy using up the leftovers (think eggs over polenta-yummy!). I think any kind of cheese would do, it just depends upon what you’re going to serve with it. I’ve used Parmesan. I’d like to see a slightly firmer product, but I’m working on it. I buy polenta, but Sabrina says you can use corn meal. Lastly, she also says you can stir in a lot of different things, like shallots or garlic or lemon. I haven’t yet tried that.

Since there are no wheat products in this, I think we can safely say it is gluten-free. I use polenta in the same way I use mashed potatoes.

Mushroom Steak Tips over Creamy Cheesy Baked Polenta
  • Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together water, polenta, salt, pepper, and butter in a 2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream and cheese. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes, uncovered. Serves 6.

I’ve just returned from California with a bag of Meyer lemons from a tree in my dad’s back yard. This recipe does not require Meyer lemons, but it’s what I had. Also called Limoni de Amalfi Cotti al Forno, the recipe comes from Jamie Oliver (Jamie’s Great Italian Escapes – 2004 – Food Network – Amalfi Baked Lemons). I love this dish because it combines so many ingredients that I love. Anchovies, yes! Basil, yes! Tomato, yes! Lemon, yes! It’s a bit of a messy dish, but oh, so yummy!

  • Ingredients
  • 3 large lemons
  • Approximately 6 oz. Mozzarella (I used Mozzarella Pearls)
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 anchovy filets
  • 3 cherry tomatoes (I used 12 grape tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted bread (I used baguette slices)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tops and bottoms off the lemons, then slice the lemons in half cross-wise. Carefully remove the lemon pulp with a knife. Set the lemon rinds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Place a slice of mozzarella into the bottom of each lemon cup (I was using Mozzarella Pearls so I put four of them into the bottom of each lemon). Next add a basil leaf, then half of an anchovy filet, and then half of a cherry tomato (or two grape tomatoes sliced in half). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with another slice of Mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and scoop the filling out of the lemon onto a piece of toasted bread. Eat it while it’s still warm and melty!

I’ve made this dish several times over the past couple years and it’s really, really delicious. My recipe is based upon one found at TamingTwins, but I’ve modified it quite a bit.

This dish is how I use my leftover salmon that’s already cooked. I haven’t tried it, but I believe canned salmon would work as well. We eat a lot of sweet potatoes because they purportedly are lower in carbs than regular potatoes, but that may just be an advertising ploy by sweet potato growers. Sweet potatoes are commonly called yams in the USA, but real yams are an entirely different vegetable originating in Africa or Asia and most of us have probably never eaten or seen one. That aside, if you’re at the grocery store shopping for yams, almost assuredly they are selling you sweet potatoes. Go ahead and get the yams.

This recipe’s proportions are basically eyeballed. I’ll give you my ingredient proportions, but do feel free to wing it with a handful of this or that. You’ll see. I tend to start by choosing a baking dish that I can spread a layer of flaked salmon evenly across the bottom. The next layer is prawns and onion that has been cooked in milk. TamingTwins poached her salmon with onion in the milk, but I like to use my leftover salmon that’s already cooked. However you decide to do things, the purpose is to flavor the milk with seafood. The next layer is the shrimp and onion-flavored milk made into a white sauce. The next layer is the mashed sweet potatoes mixed with grated cheddar cheese. You can cook the sweet potatoes however you like, they just need to end up mashed. The last layer is grated cheese over the top. This dish is like a shepherd’s pie, but maybe we should call it a fisher’s pie. It may not look like much, but it’s super yummy.

  • Ingredients
  • 2-3 Sweet potatoes (yams)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • Cooked salmon, at least two serving pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 5 Prawns (extra-large), peeled, deveined, and rough chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley flakes (optional)

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large pieces. Put them into a pot with an inch or so of water and boil/steam until the sweet potatoes are soft. Mash them and then stir in a dash of salt and pepper and 1/3 cup grated cheese. Set aside.

Debone and flake the salmon. Spread it evenly across the bottom of a baking dish. I used a 2-quart dish. Set aside.

Bring milk with onion to a boil in a saucepan and let simmer for a couple minutes until the onion is cooked. Stir in the prawns. Let simmer until they’re cooked. It won’t take long at all, a minute or two. Strain out the onion and prawns, making sure to save the milk. Spread the onions and prawns across the salmon in the baking dish. Set aside. Let the milk cool to room temperature or less. It was zero degrees here while I was last making this, so I just strained the milk into a measuring cup and set it outside to cool. Didn’t take long. Ha.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make a roux by melting butter in a small saucepan and stirring in the flour, salt, and pepper over medium heat. Stir in the cooled milk and continue stirring over medium heat until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley flakes, if using (I didn’t have any). Pour the sauce over the seafood in the baking dish.

Dollop mashed sweet potatoes evenly over the filling in the baking dish. You can smooth it out or fluff it up, however you like. Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, until heated through. Heavenly!

I baked this one for thirty minutes, but it could have used another 5-10 in the oven. I was too hungry to wait!

I am a fan of split pea soup. I buy the spiral-sliced fully-cooked hams at Costco and whenever we have ham for dinner, I save the bone to make split pea soup. If I need to cook chicken for a dish calling for shredded chicken meat, then I might cook the chicken in water and use the flavored water for this split pea soup.

My meals tend to be like guitar riffs where one thing builds on another. This morning I was trying to use up all the Cheesy Potatoes from last night’s Christmas dinner, so I diced some leftover ham and put it on the bottom of a skillet, then plopped the leftover Cheesy Potatoes on the ham. Once heated, I cracked four eggs over the top, covered the skillet until the eggs were cooked to my liking and had a delicious brunch. I digress.

  • Ingredients:
  • Ham bone (with a little meat left on) or bacon or breakfast sausage
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1/2 # dried green split peas
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley (optional)
  • Fresh or frozen peas (optional)

If you are using a ham bone, then just put it into a large stock pot. If you are using bacon or breakfast sausage, then fry it in your stock pot first. If there is a lot of fat, drain it off. Add the water, split peas, onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper, optional parsley. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer for 3-4 hours. Let it cool a little bit. Remove the ham bone and take the meat off the bone. Return the meat to the pot. Discard the bone. Bring the pot to a boil again. If you are adding fresh or frozen peas, do it now. Let them cook a minute or two. Remove pot from heat. Serve.