cold comfort food

Ever since this cold snap hit (and by cold, I mean Bay Area cold not Quebec cold. That's 31F at night, not -4F) and my furnace went out (the night before I was hosting 12 people for Thanksgiving of course, and did I mention the dishwasher also broke?) I've been cooking classic comfort food. (Is it any wonder?)

Yesterday a friend brought over the remains of a honey-baked ham she had from a party. That brought my mind to thoughts of Macaroni and Cheese and how nice this would be with some of those ham bits and frozen peas tossed in (the American version of Penne con Prosciutto e Piselli?). Mac and Cheese isn't a dish I make very often and when I do it's usually some updated, lighter version with an interesting mix of cheeses. But since I was starting with leftovers from the iconic centerpiece of an American buffet, I felt like I had to go with the straight-up full-fat cheddar classic. I found a recipe on Epicurious that did not hold back–a whole stick of butter, a pound of cheese, whole milk–bring it on. I must say it did not disappoint. Just the right amount of moistness with a nice crunch on top (and the added ham and peas contributed some welcome texture and color.)

Today I still had the ham bone and some small meat scraps to use up. In my mind ham bone = split pea soup. And of course I love any excuse to drag out my old vintage 1970's crockpot! I used this recipe but found I didn't quite have enough green split peas on hand so I made a blend of green and yellow. The house smelled wonderful all day long (nothing like a stewing ham bone to give you a feeling of well-being).

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