Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mind your peas

One of the things I tried to grow in the garden this year was peas. I'm pretty new to gardening in general--growing up we had a tree, a few shrubs, and the occasional row of marigolds. Nothing edible. I planted my first tomatoes less than 10 years ago, and have spotty success at best with any veggies. Got a bumper crop of zucchini one year (that hubby and I couldn't finish), and I have cilantro that just won't die. And my hubby brought our one and only ripe watermelon--ever--to the hospital right after Charlotte was born. My lack of success doesn't stop me from trying :)

Until I had kids, most peas that I ate (or refused to eat) came in a can. With my attempts at making homemade babyfood, I started buying frozen peas. Some of those are actually sweet and edible (though some are about as blah and mushy as the canned kind).

In a garden, peas are rather attractive. Maybe I'm just a sucker for any vine-y plant that will climb a trellis. So I planted a few. Two small trellises, maybe a dozen seeds total, half of which were duds.

The other day I was watering plants and noticed that I have quite a few pea pods hanging on my two small plant groups. Honestly, I don't think I've ever even bought fresh peas still in the pod (except for the sugar snap peas for stir-fries), and I'm a poor judge of what a "ripe" pea pod looks like. So I checked a gardening book, and found, to my horror, that peas usually ripen while its still cool (we've been hovering just under 100 lately), and that they should be picked sooner rather than later for best flavor and texture, and that if you keep picking htem, they will make more peas (I might have guessed that one, had I been paying attention).

I brought in a handful of pods yesterday morning, and then attempted to shell and cook them last night. The suckers are harder to get out of the pods than I expected, but I made it. And ended up with a whopping 1/2 cup of small green orbs. Not really enough for a family of 4. But, I was making a salad, so I thought I'd just add them to the salad, and all would be well.

Yes, I did cook them first. But probably not long enough, because some of them were crunchy. Or maybe they were just past ripe, who knows. Basically, I boiled water in the microwave and them sort of steeped them in the water for about 3 minutes. Had I gone 5-8 things might have gone better.

Oh well. The kids enjoyed them. And I'll do better next time. And I suppose I need to check my plants more often and bring in the remaining pods as they develop (many that I left on the plant had no lumps in the pods to speak of yet).

In case you want a basic explanation of how to cook peas from someone who knows what they're doing, try here.

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