BACK IN 2007 When I first wrote this post, I repeated what I'd heard from the farmer at the farmers market, that crowder peas and "black-eyed peas" and "cowpeas" are all the same thing. Whoa, bad idea! Readers quickly let me know the farmer (and therefore I) was completely wrong! Let it be said: Crowder peas and black-eyed peas and cowpeas are NOT the same thing! Okay? So sorry!
Back then, it took me all of 17 minutes to shell that pound of fresh crowder peas. But I fussed and fumed the entire time. "Why is this taking so long?" and "Nobody's ever going to make these, they take too long." But somehow, as the minutes passed, these old-fashioned peas got me to thinking in a way, say, gorgeous French radishes did not.
- Leave my homeland and family seeking personal freedom or economic opportunity
- Cross mountains and rivers and prairies to find affordable farmland
- Put down scarce cash for land, build some sort of shelter, survive the first winter with little to eat
- Fell trees, pull boulders in order to till virgin soil
- Watch bad seed or storms or drought or insects decimate the crop
- Buy seed and fertilizer and insecticide and farm equipment on credit
- Sell the back forty to re-purchase seed, fertilizer and insecticide when spring rains wash out the first planting
- Worry whether my children will want to farm this land, whether this land will be there for them to farm
It's been many years since I've been on anything except a gentleman's farm. Somehow, crowder peas got me to thinking what it might have taken to get them to my market where I could buy a pound for two bucks. You know what? Seventeen minutes of shelling peas, it was the least I could invest.
FRESH CROWDER PEAS (NOT BLACK-EYED PEAS)
Time to table: 60 minutes
1 pound peas, shelled
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon good vinegar
Fresh herbs if desired
Bring the water to a boil while shelling the peas. Add to boiling water, cover and let cook for about 40 minutes or until done. (They are quite starchy, very similar in texture to canned or frozen black-eyed peas.) Drain and return to the hot pot.
Meanwhile, whisk the dressing. Pour over hot drained peas and toss several times to coat and let the liquid soak in. Toss with herbs and serve immediately.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
NEXT TIME I'll make sure to select either green or brown pods for the peas inside are at different stages of ripening. Either one is fine and the peas from both turn that dull brown while cooking. The brown ones are slightly easier to shell.
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