For my non-Newfoundland friends, here is the definition:
Hard Grub: (Noun). Food staples. Food that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet.
I am happy to report that I am loving my new job as a School Counsellor. That is due in part to the fact that I have with me, the BEST Counsellor Intern ever….Debbie Walsh. When I started back at work in September of this year, after a 17 month hiatus, it was with a light heart. While I had not worked as a School Counsellor in a long time (having spent the last 15 years employed as an Educational Psychologist) I knew that my transition back to the work setting would be made a lot easier with Debbie by my side. Debbie has more than 20 years of experience in the field of special education. More important than that, she is a KIND person. When you work with kids, as far as I am concerned, no amount of education or experience can take the place of a genuine kind heart towards these little angels. And Debbie has just that.
What does that have to do with hard grub, you may ask? Well, if you put two women together in ANY setting for long enough, as you well know, the topic will sooner or later turn to food. So Deb and I have had many conversations over the past few months about food. As it turns out, we are both big fans of the old fashioned, Newfoundland-style, “hard grub”.
Years ago, Newfoundlanders subsisted mostly on fish and vegetables, along with staples such as beans, peas, oats, and other non-perishable foods, mainly because that was all that was available. Things like meat and sugar were considered luxuries! So, basically we were all vegetarians, but not by choice. That was all we could afford. Some later generation Newfoundlanders rebelled against their vegetarian upbringing by turning into complete carnivores. For others, like me and Deb, well, we kind of developed a fondness for things like boiled white beans, pea soup, fishcakes and cabbage stew. We don’t eat that stuff because it is cool to follow a vegetarian diet…..we eat it because we don’t know any better. It is how we were reared.
Luckily for me, when I switched to my new “cancer fighting diet” last January, I did not have to make a big lot of dietary changes, just add in some new veggies. That said, I wonder what Debbie is having for supper this evening? I am planning a feed of cabbage stew, fortified with cancer-fighting kale and sweet potato. Healthy eating is not that hard when you have been raised on hard grub.
Here is a simple recipe for old fashioned pea soup (I have ditched the ham bone from the recipe, and it is just as good without)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups dried split peas
-Heat the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion and thyme, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
-Add the stock and split peas, and bring to a boil quickly over high heat.
-Lower the heat and simmer until the peas are tender, about 1 hour.
-Puree 2/3 of the soup in a blender and stir it into the remaining 1/3.
-If the soup is too thick, thin it by adding a little more stock. Raise the heat and bring the soup to a boil for 15 seconds.
-Add salt and additional pepper to taste (sea salt is the healthier option).