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Oh, The Places I’ll Go For A Free T-Shirt

I volunteered at an art festival last weekend.  I did it because the arts are important.

***I also did it for the free t-shirt and the chance to walk around with a walkie-talkie and a fanny pack full of band-aids.*** 

My job was to patrol the area for unaccompanied children.

This was tricky because as far as I could tell, every kid had run away from its parents within the first 3o seconds.  Apparently, if you put any child in the universe in a park with a lake, the child will wander toward the lake.  Then the child will throw rocks and french fries and other crap in there.  It’s like a chemical need they have.

The few kids not by the water’s edge were at risk of:

(a) knocking over the regional ceramics display;

(b) getting henna tattoos;

(c) eating hot dogs off the pavement; or

(d) accidentally locking themselves in a port-a-potty with their friends.

The port-a-potty lock-in was scenario 17 in my safety and security manual.  The fact that it had its own scenario number tells you something about how frequently it was expected to happen.

I spent the entire weekend worrying that I’d have one on my watch.  I’ve heard that no amount of hand sanitizer and bourbon can make you forget your first scenario 17 rescue situation.

Saturday passed without one.  I celebrated with a basket of fried gumbo.

Mercifully, Sunday passed without one, too.  I celebrated with a basket of fried Oreos.

And then I took a nap behind a tent.  Specifically, the arts and crafts tent.

Because the arts are important.  And fanny packs make excellent pillows.

Everyone got home in one piece, and when I was ready to eat again, I wanted something warm, relaxing and–above-all–not fried.

This soup hit the spot.  I’d never heard of the rice + pea combination for a soup before, but it totally works.

Basically, you warm up some bacon and leeks in a pot.  Then you add water and you let it simmer for an hour while you go do something else. The simmering turns it into a delicious broth.  You add your frozen peas or beans (we like using mostly frozen butter peas, which are like baby lima beans, and some peas).  And then you throw in the rice.  I like that it’s rich but brothy, rather than heavy, and it’s good for all seasons.

Rice & Pea Soup {Download & Print Recipe}

{Adapted from a Lidia Bastianich recipe in Lidia In America}


2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 lb. bacon cut in 1/3″ pieces (this is about 4 thick-cut strips, but if you have to get typical thin-cut packaged bacon, it’ll be more than 4)

2 1/2 c. leeks, white and pale green parts only, diced in 1/2″ pieces (about 2 leeks)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 tbsp. kosher salt or coarse sea salt (start with a little less if you only have a finer salt)

1 c. diced celery (about 3 stalks)

1 lb. frozen peas, baby lima beans, butter beans, cream peas, or a mix

a scant 1 c. rice (preferably arborio rice, but other kinds will do)

4 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (preferably flat-leaf but curly is fine)

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano


Pour the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat (I had to use my largest one– it should have about an 8-quart capacity).  Stir in the bacon pieces and cook for several minutes.  When the bacon renders its fat and starts to crisp, stir in the leek and the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the leek softens, about 6 minutes.  The leek shouldn’t brown.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat 3 quarts (12 cups) of water to a simmer.  Carefully pour the water into the pot with the leek and bacon.  Add the salt and the celery and stir.  Bring to a rapid boil, then lower the heat to maintain a slight bubbling and cook for at least an hour, covered with a lid on almost all the way.  It’s important that the soup bubble for this long, so that flavor builds in the broth.  (I had my lid almost all the way on, with a slight opening on the side, for about an hour, and then I covered it fully for another 30 minutes.)

Stir in the frozen peas/beans.  Return the soup to a bubbling simmer and cook for 20 minutes more with the lid on.

Add the rice.  Taste the soup and add more salt if it needs it.  Bring it back to an active simmer, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through but not mushy.

Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley and grated cheese.  Serve.  (We served with warm buttered bread sprinkled with Parmesan.  Delicious!)

Yield: Serves 6.


While I was off earning my t-shirt, Scott worked at home with Thunder.  He took this picture, which he titled “Thunder falls asleep while working on her manuscript.”

P.S.  Thanks to everyone on the eggton facebook page who tried to help Scott and me win movita’s cake competition.  We lost to a little Canadian girl.  She’s 13 years old, you guys.  THIRTEEN.

I wish her the best, but you know what really gets me? She’s probably celebrating her victory right now by throwing a bunch of crap into a lake.

40 Comments Post a comment
  1. Where’s the picture of the tee-shirt, already?! I came here to see the free tee-shirt. Phst. Gyp. Seriously, though, I’m glad nobody got locked in the honey bucket. S’nasty.

    May 1, 2012
    • Brooke, it’s in the laundry! (I had two wear it two days in a row 🙂 It’s pretty awesome. It’s purple and I love wearing purple. Of course, these days I’m not a fan of short-sleeved shirts. I feel like I need a body suit to keep the mosquitoes off me.

      May 1, 2012
  2. giftsofserendipity #

    Every time – no, every,time – I visit this space I receive a giggle, inspiration for a delicious meal [some salivating usually happens too] and a dose of reality.

    Thank you for these gifts my friend, you are a treasure.

    May 1, 2012
    • Aw, wow. You made my night. Thank you, truly. This is really kind of you.

      May 1, 2012
  3. imqtpi #

    Ahhhh… But how is Thunder’s manuscript coming along? And when will she be posting her own blog?!! I *need* to know!

    May 1, 2012
    • Ack! I can’t find the manuscript! Either Scott took it with him on his business trip (to edit and format, of course) or Thunder got frustrated/hungry and ate it. 🙂

      May 1, 2012
  4. Look at that pink belly. Please tell me you didn’t share the deep-fried Oreos with Thunder.

    May 1, 2012
  5. I know– with that little belly, she reminds me of a cow or a piglet in this photo.

    May 1, 2012
    • Um, and I shared the Oreos with NO ONE. Scott stole one, which is different. 🙂

      May 1, 2012
  6. You’re not supposed to throw stuff into a lake? Who knew?

    You are a most dedicated arts supporter. I’m pleased to know you (through your blog).

    And now you are prepared for most scenarios in life, with your fanny pack and band-aids. I was in charge of four boys at my son’s recent fifth grade field day, and I did not have either. I had a backpack full of a whole lot of nothing… my stuff did not endear me to them or make them not wander away into a world full of serial killers and machines that make flat pennies out of 51 cents. I am in awe of your preparedness.

    May 1, 2012
    • Anne, I wish I could take credit for preparing that awesome fanny pack, but it was the ladies who organized the festival who took care of everything. They had it down to a science. I even had a badge and a little map that told me where I got discounts on food. That was Scott’s favorite part–the fact that I could get free lemonade and $1 off red beans and rice.

      I am jealous of your son’s field day (and the 51 cent penny thing made me laugh). One of my best friends had a field day for her birthday party last year. We did it in a park on a pier over the Hudson River in NYC. We did it all–balloon toss, that spoon-egg race thing, three-legged race–the works. So much more fun than going to a restaurant or a regular party. And people were old enough to deal with their own injuries, so nobody needed to bring a fanny pack of band-aids. It was pretty perfect.

      May 1, 2012
  7. a #

    I’m glad you didn’t have to effect a rescue from scenario 17.

    I’m also looking forward to reading Thunder’s manuscript.

    May 1, 2012
    • A, I’m guessing that her manuscript would just say: “LESS TALKING — MORE DOG PARK.”

      May 1, 2012
  8. Oh, those Canadian girls … we’re a precocious lot! (And your soup looks really good) (And your cake for Movita was really super cool!) (But I hope you don’t keep all your cakes in the bathroom…)

    May 1, 2012
    • Hee hee. Seriously– I don’t know what you teach kids in school up there, but it’s working. Big-time.

      Yeah, we typically do not store baked goods in the bathroom. Primarily because then we’d each take reeeeeeeally long showers just we could eat cookies while washing our hair.

      May 2, 2012
  9. jl #

    Well everything is on the stove, boiling away. Can’t wait to eat it tomorrow! I probably shouldn’t have started this so late, but I guess now I have a glorious reason to indulge in the Bravo network!

    May 1, 2012
    • Oh my goodness! You’re so on the ball!

      How did it turn out? Tell me honestly– did you like it? I found that if you don’t eat it immdiately, the rice absorbs some of the cooking broth over night, so it becomes like a gumbo. (which I really liked.) What did you think?

      May 2, 2012
      • jl #

        I liked it the night I made it, but when I went to reheat it the next day, there was a ton of grease in it and it wasn’t appealing. I think if I make it again I’ll opt for the supermarket type of bacon instead of using a thick butcher’s cut. I’m not a huge bacon person and the flavor was intense. I think if I had used chicken it would have been amazing! I’m somewhat of a picky eater!!

        May 10, 2012
        • Darn, I’m sorry you didn’t like it. We’re a bacony household, it’s true. I don’t like greasy stuff–like if I see grease on food I shiver, but I do remember how the fats in the soup congealed at the top when it sat overnight. That typically weirds me out, but I think since I liked it so much the night before, I just stirred it up– and when I reheated it, it didn’t taste greasy so I didn’t mind. But I get what you mean. I didn’t try it with chicken, but I bet that would be really good. You could use chicken broth instead of make ham stock out of the bacon. Then it wouldn’t need to simmer for so long. And you could poach the chicken and just throw it in there. I bet that would be tasty, and lower-fat for sure! Thanks for trying the recipe, and I hope you find something else here soon that’s more to your liking!

          May 10, 2012
  10. Here’s the thing about 13 year old girls: they know how to campaign. That kid was handing out flyers for her cake. Flyers. Forget the internet! She was running an old-school, door to door, baby kissing campaign. Also, they are in gangs. 13 year olds are in gangs that throw stuff into lakes. And they all wear matching nail polish. It’s pretty creepy.

    That soup, by the way, looks amazing. It’s almost enough to make me forget that:
    1. a 13 year old kid trounced you and Scott,
    2. that you haven’t sent me that youtube link, and
    3. that you make Thunder work weekends.

    movita beaucoup

    May 2, 2012
  11. Amy #

    What a great, quick meal! Haha, I love that picture of Thunder. You got yourself one adorable pooch 🙂

    I think maybe losing to a 13 year old is better than losing to someone your own age…at least you can attribute her win to youth.

    May 2, 2012
    • That’s true. In fact, I’m going to start attributing lots of things to Elsa and the fact she’s younger than I am. If I burn a casserole, it’ll be because somewhere, Elsa just made a perfect casserole. If I twist my ankle, it’ll be because somewhere, Elsa lost her balance for a second. It’s going to work out great– I can tell.

      May 2, 2012
  12. I once watched Oprah host her show at the Texas State Fair. She was in charge of… *wait for it*… judging the deep fried food contest. Guess what food won, thanks to good ol’ Oprah? DEEP FRIED BUTTER.

    *covers face*

    I just… I just can’t.

    May 2, 2012
    • Oh my god BARF.

      eeeeeeeeew. If I had been the judge, honestly I don’t know how I could have tasted it. MAYBE if someone put a tiny tiny piece of fried butter on a huge piece of bread, then I could eat it. But that’s not the way it works, is it?


      May 2, 2012
  13. Fried gumbo?! Who’s ever heard of such!

    May 2, 2012
    • It was absolutely amazing. It won the food contest that weekend. I’m not a big sausage person, but the fried sausage in the gumbo was phenomenal. There were also pieces of okra, onion, and shrimp–all fried separately and served with an awesome spicy ranch sauce. I can’t WAIT to have it again!

      May 2, 2012
  14. juanitascocina #

    I love our fair because of the freebie tent. You can get a million rulers and free pens. Enough to fill up the entire grocery bag you’re given when you walk in.

    Also, you were totally robbed by the 13 year old.

    Aaaand finally, soup makes everything better.

    May 2, 2012
  15. I volunteered at a local beer festival last year (blogged as “volun-beering,” !!) which was incredible. I’m counting the days till it comes around next year. We worked taps for a local brewer, drank all the free beer we could, got fed, and were universally loved by all in attendance. It was like Brigadoon, with alcohol. And I’m likin’ that soup recipe. Sounds like a doer for this weekend.

    May 2, 2012
  16. P.S. We got free tee shirts, too.

    May 2, 2012
  17. craftytammie #

    once a friend of mine drank some homemade wine at a ball tournament and passed out in the port-a-potty. in september. in kansas. that definitely needs it’s own scenario.

    May 2, 2012
  18. I volunteered at the Food & Wine fest last weekend, supervising unaccompanied drunk adults 🙂

    May 2, 2012
  19. smatthis #

    I’m still loving the turkey meatball soup — which I decided is actually better than a Thanksgiving Day feast. Can’t wait to try this one. Thank you!

    May 2, 2012
  20. smatthis #

    Am still loving the turkey meatball soup — better than a Thanksgiving Day feast, I think. Can’t wait to try this one, too.

    May 2, 2012
  21. Hi! Thanks so much for the nice comment on my blog and I am excited to have found yours. I can already tell its going to be a favorite of mine, so great to meet ya! 🙂 That dog of yours is amazingly adorable!! I want to eat him up.
    Sounds like you had quite the eventful weekend, but good for you for supporting the arts! 😉

    May 2, 2012
  22. Beware Port a potties and children if at all possible – I had barf inducing, harrowing experience recently at the beach that I am still too traumatized to discuss – who in hell decided to call them Honey Buckets – that has got to be the most misleading term ever…..

    May 2, 2012
  23. I have come back like THREE TIMES to Thunder and this dang picture. I mean, omg obsessed.

    May 4, 2012
  24. eliotthecat #

    I want to see the freebie T too! 🙂 Glad you didn’t have a #17!!!

    May 6, 2012
  25. Very fun blog!

    May 8, 2012

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