RE: Split Pea Soup
This assumes I have pig *left*. ;0)
Here's my problem with using ham: first, I like ham a lot, so there's rarely leftovers. Second, I want lots of ham in my soup, in big shreddy pieces that I put in after the soup is done. Third, I like really really really really salty country hams. Finally, I need the room in my freezer for other things, so I'm rarely inclined to *keep* the hambone, and by the time I can polish off a ham, I'm bored with it, so I don't want to make soup right away.
A "picnic ham" is a bit of a misnomer; it's a cured, smoked hunk of pig similar to ham, but it's made with the front leg, rather than the hams, and it gets it's name from being appropriately-sized for a picnic. Commercial water-added smoked picnics are actually not bad, and they're just the right size for a ham omelette and a pot of soup. Because they're not a country ham, they're not as salty and dry, so they don't screw up the soup or make the peas/beans hard (salt and bean hardness is a really interesting topic, but I'll spare everyone).
Cooks Illustrated tried blanching various pieces o pig to make split pea soup, with limited success. I like the fat, so blanching to me removes the best part of the pig.
I'm with you on the murder, Elise - throw the bone into the bay when you're done; the crabs like ham almost as much as humans.