Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Portuguese Bean Soup

  For Christmas Eve dinner, Braden and I cooked up the local favorite:  Portuguese bean soup.  In recent years past, we've been having just such soup for Christmas Eve dinner at my sister Joan's, but this year Mom and Dad decided to spend Christmas at home in Hilo, my brother Grant and his son went over to join them, and we got to celebrate a nice, quiet at-home dinner with the five of us.
  Braden was a huge help since there was lots to be done after I got home shortly before lunch.  Deanne left the recipe on the counter for us to follow (if we felt brave enough to do it ourselves that afternoon), so starting from three o'clock, I boiled the water and speed-defrosted the two smoked turkey legs in the microwave and added the latter to the former along with dried red beans that Braden had soaked for a day-and-a-half.
     While those came to a boil, Braden diced an onion, garlic, celery, and carrots.  After the beans softened in a half-hour, I reduced the heat to a steady simmer.  Fifteen minutes later, I stripped the meat from the bones and Braden added the canned tomatoes and chopped vegetables.  While waiting for the now cooled mixture to simmer after we'd raised the heat, I speed defrosted a Portuguese sausage, then Braden sliced it up and browned it in a pan, I absorbed the oil in a paper towel, and he added it to the pot.  By four o'clock, the turkey meat was tender, and the vegetables were just crunchy, so I turned off the heat and let everything sit, still cooking in the residual heat.  By five o'clock, everything was ready and perfect.
  The reason I raise this is Braden and I have had our head-butt moments, times when we didn't like each other, times when he questioned my authority (in actions, never words), and times when I questioned his competence and capabilities (to myself, mostly, rarely to him).  So it's nice to find something that we can do together cordially and with him showing excellent competence.
     Cooking for him is not a problem.  He'll never go with lack of good food for want of cooking skills.  Perhaps there's a career there for him.  (I do question his college-worthiness, mostly in attitude and work ethic and persistent confidence and desire, not aptitude or ability, so much.)  And I never felt there was shame in cooking jobs or any other manual labor for that matter.  For awhile I considered switching careers to plumbing since I loved working with my hands (and I'd heard of another accountant who did the same, loved it, and earned more money after the career-switch.)
  God has his own plans for everyone, so there's no point insisting our kids follow our preconceived notions of what they ought to do.  (At my thirtieth class reunion, a spouse of a classmate shared how his dad never forgave him for abandoning his engineering college education that he never wanted in favor of a dry-cleaning business, in which he did quite well.  He mentioned it when I told him of Braden's academic travails and dubious college potential.  It was a perfect true story for me to hear since it was obvious that the man was a fine, upstanding citizen with no reason to feel shame.  It took courage in fact for him to go out on his own (I've always been too chicken to start my own business, I'm so risk averse) and moreso to take that risk against his father's wishes.)
  So necessity shopping and cooking are two things at least that Braden and I can enjoy each others' company doing.  Praise God for that!     

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