17th Amendment to the Constitution ~ Senate ~ Senate Bean Soup

Today, in 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. Prior to the 17th Amendment, Senators were appointed by state legislatures. Imagine your state’s legislature appointing your two senators, with no public vote. Anyway, the 17th Amendment “fixed” that. Under this Amendment, Senators are now elected by public vote.

Here is a history of the corruption, bribery, and public outrage that led to ratification of the 17th Amendment. You can read the 17th Amendment here. Since our current Senate gives me gas, so to speak, let’s make a little Senate Bean Soup.

Bean Soup has been served in the Senate Dining Room since 1903. There are a couple of stories about why it has been served, a couple of different recipes. You can read the stories and see the differing recipes here.

You can cook the current version (serves a regular family) or the old version (makes 5 gallons). Personally, I like my own version:

SENATE BEAN SOUP
1 pound small white beans, rinsed & picked over
Splash of olive oil
2 ham hocks (or a leftover ham bone, with ham left on it)
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Water

After you’ve inspected the beans, rinse them in cold water. Put them in a soup pot, cover them with water, and let them soak over night. The next day, drain and rinse them.

Put the beans, ham hocks & bay leaves into the soup pot. Cover them with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until beans are almost tender. Throw in the onion, celery & carrots. Bring back up to a simmer. Simmer until the beans & veggies are tender.

Take the ham hocks & bay leaves out. Ditch the bay leaves. Take the ham off the hocks, chop into bite-sized pieces, and put it back into the soup. Bring it all up to temperature, and serve!

NOTE: You have to taste this all along the way for salt & pepper.

I like to serve this with cornbread and a spinach salad.

Now … Eat Your History!

Good Friday ~ The Anchoress ~ Simple Food

It’s Good Friday, or Holy Friday, acknowledged by Christians around the world.  I’m sending you to NPR to read a beautiful essay by Elizabeth Scalia, who blogs at The Anchoress.

Please read Elizabeth’s essay at NPR, and please also visit her blog.  It’s a good day to be inspired, and The Anchoress delivers.

Different cultures, the Catholic church, and other Christian religions honor this day in different ways.  For some, it is a day to fast and spend time in silent contemplation.  For others, food may be eaten, but it should be simple and not include meat (in others, fish is permitted).  For others, it’s a no-holds-barred party.

For me, I’m keeping it simple.  I have left-over roasted asparagus and a blend of whole-grain brown rice that I made last night.  Also have some sole fillets that I didn’t cook last night that can be made quickly in a skillet with lemon and a little butter.

I’m also making Alton Brown’s vegetable soup.

GARDEN VEGETABLE SOUP
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 Cups chopped leeks, white part only (about 3 medium leeks)
2 Tbs. finely minced garlic
Kosher salt
2 Cups carrots, peeled & chopped into rounds (about 2 medium)
2 Cups peeled & diced potatoes
2 Cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4″ pieces
2 Quarts chicken or vegetable broth
4 Cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
2 Ears corn, kernels removed
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 to 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7-8 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans. Continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from head and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt if needed.

SOMETIMES I substitute asparagus for the green beans, depending on which look best. I often omit the corn if it is not in season. Sometimes tomatoes smell and look terrible, so I leave them out. Sometimes I add some red pepper flakes when sweating down the leeks.  Hey … it’s soup!  Play around, depending on what you like and what’s in season.

Now … please read the NPR and Anchoress links.  Take time to do some gratitude contemplation.  If you aren’t fasting, feed yourself with something simple and healthy.