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Chef Linda Weiss, December 31 2009
Photograph by Linda Weiss

The sun is shining but it’s downright cold. The turkey is finished, but there is leftover ham in the freezer that I had labeled “eat” and “cook” after we’d made ham salad, ham sandwiches and breakfast ham and we couldn’t “ham it up” any longer. So, I’ll pull out the “cook” ham and make something different. We need something to warm us during this cold spell. Beans or peas and cornbread would be good, and if I need a green vegetable, I’ll have coleslaw to accompany.

Stay warm my friends, and have something that’s really good for you like the dried beans and peas that are full of nutrients. Not too many people take the trouble to make something so good in this day and time, so just take a little time and enjoy the fruits of your summer labor all over again.

My dad and I had really liked the large white limas that our cook Sarah made. When we opened the top of the heavy pot that Sarah was cooking them in, we just couldn’t wait to put a fork into the meaty, creamy lima beans. With cornbread, it was a good lunch or meatless supper. Dried peas were cooked the same way at our house.  Sarah would soak the beans or peas for several hours, or use a quick method of cooking. You’ll find both below. I’ve added a little twist to my limas with the caramelized sweet onions. Hope you enjoy!

Creamy White Limas with Ham & Caramelized Sweet Onions

1 lb large dried lima beans

Place the limas in a pot and cover with room temperature water. Soak them for several hours, or if you prefer a quicker method of soaking you can shorten it by pouring boiling water over the limas and soaking them for about an hour. Then cook per instructions below.

Put the rinsed limas in a large heavy pot. Cover with cold water. Add a ham bone, or several large pieces of ham (about ½ pound). Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the limas are tender. If the limas start to look dry and you need to add more water during the cooking process, just add a little at a time. Add salt to taste. Don’t wait until the limas are completely done to season them. The limas are done when soft and tender, but still meaty to the touch. Season with salt and pepper to taste. See caramelized onion recipe below. Add the caramelized onions (as many or as few as you’d like) to the beans and stir gently.

Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 large sweet onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
Pinch of salt to season

Add the olive oil and butter to a large skillet and let sizzle. Add the onions and cook until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. Set the cooked onions aside until the limas are cooked. Add to the pot of limas, stirring gently so the limas are not mashed, or use on top of the limas when serving.

Another favorite of mine is black eyed peas.  I created the recipe below a few years ago.  It has many different flavors that work well together.

Chicken & Ham Chili with Black-eyed Peas & Rice

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup cubed ham
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 cups cooked long grain and wild rice or white rice
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, drained of liquid
1 1/2 cups shoe peg corn, drained
2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Chopped green onions, Monterey Jack cheese for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, ham and chicken. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken has lost its pink color. Add the remaining ingredients except the green onions and the cheese.  Simmer for 30 minutes and until all flavors have had a chance to blend. Add more chicken broth if needed.  Garnish with green onions and cheese. Serves 4-6.

Visit Chef Linda at her website:
and her blog:
Linda’s first book, Memories From Home, Cooking with Family & Friends
is available at or at her website.

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