Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pea Lesson-A Letter To My Children

Shell, snow and snap…
Dear Children,

Your father grew up northwest of the Mason Dixon line. I am Southern through and through. Peas to southerns are brown, pea-nutty flavored, cooked in a broth. They were the staff of life here once, filling, hearty, protein packed and brown. Served with corn bread or biscuits a filling enough meal. I am NOT talking about blacked-eyed peas here I am talking crowder or cow peas. They were once reserved for animals and used as cover crops to lock nitrogen into the soil. Then, we had the Civil War and food was food people. My grandmother always had a pot of peas on her stove. Always. If you needed a snack, have a bowl of peas.
The peas of Dad's youth are round and bright green. As far a I know, broth is not part of the cooking method. I did not grow up eating them. My mother served them from a can occasionally and I hated them. Mushy and scanky-tasting I could only get them down whole with a big gulp of milk. This is a truth: many nights I would excuse myself to the restroom to spit them out, until she got wise.

I digress. Here's the lesson on green peas.
1. They grow in cool weather unlike field peas which like it hot, hot, hot. Plant green peas in late winter, field peas in May, then again in late July.
2. There are THREE varieties of green, cool weather peas. I know this now because Dad wigged out when I bought the wrong variety. Folks. He wigged. I do not like his wigging.
3. The three varieties are: shell, snow and snap. Do not mistake snap for shell or Dad will... wig. ( I will not go into the, "Well, if you don't like what I bought why don't you go out and buy your own damn seeds?" thoughts I was having because he was losing it and could not be rational. It happens to all of us.)
4. Shell are the prize! They are sweet, like candy. They must be eaten soon after picking and go starchy. Then they are just like canned. Yuck.
5. Snow peas are Asian varieties and are flat. They are also sweet and nice steamed or stir-fried.
6. Snap peas?  I am using them for pea shoots in salad, because garden friends I bought lots…

Creatively yours,
Closely sown snap peas for salads :)
PS They all look the same before their pods mature…The Same. Alike. Identical.

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