Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shelling Peas

The farmer, who wore overalls, called them "purple hull peas," to be distinguished from the crowder peas he sold in bushel bags. He didn't have zipper peas, which was my stated mission at the Farmer's Market on Tuesday, but the purple hull peas were fresh, with no mushy or rusty spots, so I bought a pound of them for the very fair price of $4. "I like to shell peas," I told the farmer, but he must have been hard of hearing, no response, so I thanked him, and took my bag of peas of home.
I shelled those peas Wednesday night, sitting on my rocking chair on the front porch, talking on the cordless with my recently widowed friend, who wanted to share the trials of her life and really just needed a listening ear. For an hour, I listened, shelled and watched as the Little One played in the sandbox. The next night, the peas were the star of the evening meal. cooked with country ham.
Thursday Night Menu
Purple Hull Peas Cooked with Country Ham
Skillet Cornbread
Fried Cabbage
Cucumber, Onion and Yellow Tomato Salad
Banana Crumb Cake

The Cucumber, Onion and Tomato Salad is from Gift of Southern Cooking. It is an old South dish, dreamed up by frugal cooks who had put up all the pickles they possibly could and needed to use up the cukes still on the vine. I used the lovely yellow tomatos from our own vines, and a neighbor contributed the Kirby cukes. The cukes were crisp and fresh-tasting, but quite seedy, so I changed the slicing method from the traditional unpeeled disks, to peeled, seeded and diced. I salted a diced Vidalia onion to draw out the bitterness, before putting it in the salad - the recipe specified red onion, which I don't usually keep on hand. The yellow and green salad was brilliant and the very essence of summer.

The Banana Crumb Cake is an old reliable from Susan Purdy's Family Baker, my all-time favorite baking book. I haven't made this cake in a while, but the black bananas were ready for baking.

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