trying something new

Carol over at May Dreams Gardens announced the new vegetable she’s trying for 2010, and it’s okra, which I suspect will be a bit of a stretch for her Zone 5 garden.  But then again, she’s a great gardener, and I suspect she’ll pull it off and have an excellent harvest.

I’m trying a few new-to-me crops in the kitchen garden this year, attempting to stretch the boundaries of my gardening knowledge a bit.  Namely, peas and carrots and potatoes.  There’s no pictures of those growing yet, so I put up a picture of last year’s heirloom okra, Fife Creek Cowhorn, in bloom.

Now, here’s the weird part:  I hate peas.  So does F.  It is a sincere hatred on both our parts, and I only discovered last month that we share it.

My brother-in-law (hereafter referred to as D.) sent the pre-measured ingredients and spices for classic Southern chicken & dumplings to us last month.  I’d previously complimented him on his version and expressed a wish to learn to cook the dish.  For some reason, I skipped over learning this one, and it’s a gaping hole in my culinary education.

When my sister came to visit just before the holidays, she brought along all the “fixins” and gave me D.’s step-by-step instructions for turning the disparate ingredients into glory.  As we were eating it, mostly in bliss-filled silence, F. suddenly piped up and said he appreciated D.’s version so much because there weren’t that many peas.

Of course, this set off a discussion which revealed we both despise peas.  Loathe them, actually.  Yuck.

Yet I kept reading here and there about how freshly harvested green peas are a whole other vegetable from the frozen or canned things that F. and I know and loathe so well.  This made me realize I’ve never had a fresh pea in my life.  If I have, I cannot recall it.

I did have a neighbor, long ago in college days, who grew fresh peas in little pots on her patio, and I found the plants quite ornamental, if a little eccentric.  These were the days when I was still stuck on flowers as the only really proper plants for people to have on their patios.

What can I say?  People change.  I was 20 years old, still used chemical fertilizers, had a passion for roses and hyacinths, and was only just discovering columbines and clematis.

That was the year I managed to kill a lovely camellia bush, and I still have no idea what went wrong.  Luckily, the killing didn’t make me despair, but only more determined to get better at helping things to thrive.

I think that’s the difference between a person who tries to garden and a gardener.  The former give up after a few losses and deaths and defeats at the merciless hands of weather and bugs and disease.  The latter just keep trying, and keep finding the whole thing fascinating even when it’s exasperating sometimes.

And they’re courageous about trying new things.  Excited, even.

So I’m excited now about growing a vegetable which I don’t like to eat in its grocery store form.  If it’s still horrible, I figure I can always give some away and hide the rest in various soups and casseroles and stews.  F. and I have plenty of experience in eating them anyway, just to be polite.

I won’t add too many to D.’s chicken & dumplings recipe, though.  I wouldn’t want to ruin it.

10 Responses to “trying something new”

  1. lol! One of my sons detests peas. Always has and always will. He has a strict “no pea” policy on everything and while he’ll inhale a bowl of stew, somehow he manages to leave a tidy little pile of peas on the bottom of the empty bowl. Funny, his wife likes them – lol!

    It’s amazing how different veggies and fruits taste in their fresh form. I’ve never liked pineapple until I had a slice of the fresh variety in Jamaica years ago and it blew my mind how tender and tart sweet and delicious it was. Till then I’d only tasted canned and it was horrible. You might find you and F. might grow a little fond of the fresh peas, but my son would say – “Uh uh! No way!” 🙂

    • I’m with your son on this one, Talon. 😉 But what made me decide definitively to try them was standing in line behind a woman at the grocery store and watching her pay for those yucky January tomatoes that taste like cardboard gone mealy and squishy in the rain. I thought to myself, “What if that was what I thought a tomato tasted like? Then I’d think I didn’t like tomatoes!”

      I’ve never had truly fresh pineapple. I’ll bet it blows the mind. 🙂

    • Oh, and I forgot to add, Talon, that I also used to reserve my peas at the bottom of the bowl or the side of the plate. My mother found it amusing, too. 🙂

  2. Markets out here are awash with freshly harvested green peas, a staple in Indian winters, mostly sourced from the north of the country, and used in a variety of dishes.

    I suppose freshly harvested green peas will differ in taste from when frozen. I was never a fan of peas until discovering freshly harvested peas.

    Your kitchen garden chronicles make for interesting reading. It must be a challenge though to grow vegetables.

    • Anil, we don’t even have farmers’ markets during the winter months. (What would the farmers sell, I wonder?) It’s not as hard as it looks to grow veggies. But, of course, it is work, and there is a learning curve. 🙂

  3. I actually like frozen peas (but fresh ones even more). I had some gals over one night for Chicken Tetrazzini and served frozen English peas as a side dish. Discussion ensued about how much fun it is to push peas around ones plate. I actually like them, but I guess there is an entertainment factor as well. 🙂

  4. See no I am a pea lover. Fresh young peas are the best. But nothing compares to shucking the peas from your garden and just eating them raw. Having lived in apartments for the last 15 out of 20 years I miss the garden. The garden in Maui was the best and the fact that I could wake up with the neighbors having deposited a hand of apple bananas, avocados, mango, pineapple and whatever they had growing in their garden on your doorstep was wonderful. But just thinking about peas took me back to the wonderful garden we had in England behind the giant plum tree and gooseberry bushes. I loved helping my mother pick the peas and quietly consume half of what I picked. Wow … the memories spilled forth on this one my dear friend.

    Peas are a choice. My brother hates them and can find one pea buried in a pot of stew or mound of mash potatoes. So I realize that to some they are wonderful to others they are … well they are the polar opposite.

    Peace and happy growing.

    • if that started with “see now” well that “w” just ran away 🙂

    • It was lovely to travel back with you for a moment to gardens past, Philip. I cannot imagine having neighbors deliver mangoes, bananas, and avocados to my doorstep. It sounds wonderful!

      Now I definitely have to try peas raw. That’s a few readers who’ve told me as much, via comments and e-mail, so I’m getting the message loud & clear. 😉

      Peace to you, too, my friend.

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