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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Texas Christmas! By Joan Reeves

I love to cook, but I don't do it often now that all the kids are grown and gone. So when the holidays roll around, I embrace the chance to cook. A lot.

I make pralines, bake cakes and cookies, put together hot appetizers and treats for a couple of parties, and also make gifts for neighbors and friends from my kitchen.

I learned the art of cooking from generations of small town southern cooks. Just about all my books are set in Texas or Louisiana—many of them in small towns because I write what I know, and I know these women. They're funny and smart and have more commonsense than all the politicians in the world.

Cookbooks: Church and Family Genre

Some of the best cooks in the world are these moms, grandmoms, and great grandmoms in small town America. These elderly masters of the culinary arts contribute their mouthwatering recipes to church and family cookbooks.

One of these days I'll have to write about my church and family cookbook collection. The older cookbooks of this genre are jaw-dropping when you read salad recipes where canned fruit, mini-marshmallows, Jello, and Cool Whip figure prominently, not crisp veggies and greens. Unless you count the green Jello in some of the recipes.


Having said all that, I dare you to eat a spoonful of Watergate Salad or Pink Stuff and say it's not good. Sure, it needs to be listed under dessert, rather than salad, but Pink Stuff, which graced my mom's holiday table every year, was delicious. So was Watergate Salad, the pineapple, pistachio pudding, and Cool Whip concoction that my husband's grandmother made.

In my books, my characters cook too. In a book I'll publish next year, my heroine will be cooking the recipe I share with you today. This holiday favorite in our household is much healthier than the "salads" I mentioned. It's a delicious, hearty bean soup.

Better still, it's a thrifty recipe because it's made from a hambone or leftover ham. I'd be willing to guess that, at some point between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, just about every household has a ham. Be a smart home chef and freeze the hambone and leftover ham, and you'll be ready to make this soup.

After the holidays, when you want an easy, simple meal, defrost the ham and/or hambone and use one or the other to flavor this warm-your-insides bean soup.

Rancho Reeves Bean Soup

Assemble these dry ingredients:

4 tablespoons dried yellow split peas
4 tablespoons dried green split peas
1/3 cup dried navy beans
1/3 cup dried kidney beans
1/3 cup great northern beans
1/3 cup pinto beans
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 ½ teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
½ teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

To Make the Soup

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, add the above dry ingredients and 8 cups of water.

Heat the water and the dry ingredients mixture to boiling. Boil for 2 minutes, then turn the heat off. Cover with the lid and let stand for 1 hour.

Stir in 1 cup sliced carrots and 1 cup chopped celery. Add the ham (either 1 ham bone, the cubed ham, or 2 pounds of ham hocks you buy at the market) and heat to boiling.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours or until beans are tender. If I have some corn on hand, I'll drain it and toss that in too.

Skim fat if necessary. If you used a ham bone or ham hocks instead of cubed ham, remove the ham bone or ham hocks. Remove the ham from the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add back into the soup. Heat until bubbling.

Serve with cornbread. Absolutely delicious! At least that's what my guests always say.

Wishing you Joy at Christmas & Every Day of the New Year
Post Script

For your consideration, I offer Holiday Decorating, a free holiday craft book, and Christmas on Main Street, a Christmas Romance Collection Box Set for only 99cents.

Get Holiday Decorating free here: Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Get Christmas on Main Street Box Set, only 99cents here: Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

About Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves, author of funny, sexy Contemporary Romance Novels, lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Her books, available as ebooks and audiobooks, all have the underlying theme that is her motto: "It's never too late to live happily ever after." Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free NL for writers, and WordPlay, a free NL for readers. Find Joan online: Blog * Website * Twitter * and other social media.


  1. Joan, my husband makes wonderful bean soups and your recipe made me hungry for a nice, comforting bowl of soup. Love your books and your posts!
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Caroline. You're such a loyal friend--always leaving a comment. Hope you and hubby and family have a wonderful Christmas.


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