Split Pea Soup, Grandmas and the Gulf War

When I was about 7 years old my great grandma took me on a road trip to visit my cousins in Arizona. Right before we left Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and president George H.W. Bush sent American troops into battle. My mom panicked and was hesitant about sending her only daughter away in a time of uncertainty. Being 7 and not knowing too much of geography, I assumed that “the Gulf” was the Gulf of Mexico and that my mom had plenty reason to worry, as Arizona was closer to the Gulf than California. Knowing that the trip would be fun and (knowing my grandma, a teacher and firm believer in “life as learning”) educational, she let me go and away we went on the long drive to see family and learn about native culture.

We had a great time in Arizona (despite a minor fall into a cactus patch) and we were soon on our way home again. If you drove straight through you could do the trip in one day, but my grandma, a stubborn woman who knew what she wanted and usually got it, wanted to stop at the famous Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton just north of Santa Barbara. She told me before we got there that we would have to find a hotel because if we stopped to eat we would be on the road too late. To me, a mommy’s girl who just wanted to be home safe after a week away next to a “war zone,” this was not acceptable. Not to mention pea soup sounded disgusting. So as we drove by what my grandma thought was the exit she asked “do you see it? Do you see any signs?” I looked, and lo and behold there it was- Pea Soup Andersen’s. “Nope,” I said. “Must be the next exit.”

Needless to say, we didn’t stop that night and drove straight home, where I hugged my mom and told her of my desert adventure. I didn’t really think too much about that little white lie until after my grandma died when I was 14. I felt guilty that I hadn’t just let her have her dang soup.

Now I sit here, typing this story about my grandma and I can smell the split pea soup I have cooking in the crock pot wafting into the room and I feel that pang of guilt once again. As it turns out, split pea soup is pretty damn good. So here’s my easy recipe for split pea crock pot soup, in memory of my grandma, Lucille. She was a great woman. I’m sorry I lied, grandma.

Split Pea Soup

2 bags of dried split peas
2 cups (or more!) of ham, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1+ cup of carrots, chopped
1 box of chicken broth
1-2 cups of water
1-2 tablespoons of parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Throw it in a crock pot, making sure the ingredients are covered with liquid (you can always add more later if it’s looking a little dry). Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by christina on June 16, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    Aww. This made me tear up. 😦


  2. Posted by Susan on June 16, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Aww great story cass, and so funny that I read it tonight. I was just telling my sister this morning about a time when grandma wanted to take me to the drive in to see the Flintstones movie. I just wanted to hang out with my dad so I did not go. In the end Mary went on her own and had a wonderful time. I have always regretted not going to the movies that one time. I bet it would have been great. I miss your grandma so so much! Love you cousin.


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