I’ve been reminiscing about picking vegetables in the summer. I grew up living part of my life on the farm. There was usually corn, peas, okra, butterbeans, squash, etc. to pick. Then after they were picked, the peas and butterbeans had to be shelled and corn had to be shucked – that was an itchy job. Well, that was our summer activity. Not fun at the time. I do remember sipping lemonade and shelling peas, but butterbeans were the worst. When everything at the farm had played out, the freezer was filling up, and we rejoiced. Then, the neighbors with gardens would call Mama to say we were welcomed to vegetables out of their gardens…cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, etc. So…here we go again. Mama would can, pickle and freeze, and we got to help. Then, the peaches and pears would be ready…and here we go again. Pear relish was one of the condiments Mama canned, which we put on our peas. We helped chop onions and peppers for this. It was so good.
Of course, at the time we were helping our Mama, we didn’t think it was fun at all. My sister, Lynne, said we didn’t know the rest of the world was taking vacations or going to the beach or mountains during the summer.
I learned so much, and it wasn’t as bad as we thought at the time. Now I would love to have a garden to pick from. I love to go to the farm stands, farmers’ markets and produce shops. Of course, now we can buy peas and butterbeans that are all shelled for us. It’s a little bit of work to freeze vegetables, but oh how nice to go to the freezer for fresh frozen peas, corn, butterbeans and okra in the wintertime.
It is amazing to me that some people don’t know how to cook peas and butterbeans. Start by washing the vegetables and pick out any debris by using a colander. In a deep sauce pan or boiler, put a generous amount of water with smoked boiling meat, such as smoked ham hocks, smoked ham, hog jowl or smoked turkey necks (choose one). Add salt and let the meat boil until it is tender. Add cleaned peas or butterbeans. Let come to a boil and skim the foam off as it begins to boil. Reduce the heat and cook the vegetables until they are tender. Check for salt. If you like okra, when the peas are done, place whole, cleaned pods of okra on top of peas and reduce the heat. Don’t boil…let the okra steam on top of the peas.
Make some cornbread; chop some onions…oh, so good. This summer the little white peas are so good, C-8, white acre, and ladyfinger, to name a few. Of course, there are pink-eyed and black-eyed peas, and purple hull….they are all so good.
Hope you will try some of these wonderful fresh summer vegetables while they last. Thank goodness for pea shellers.
May God Bless You.