trying something new
Tags: chicken and dumplings, Fife Creek Cowhorn okra, garden fantasy, growing okra, growing peas, growing peas and carrots, growing peas for the first time, heirloom okra, May Dreams Gardens, okra, planting season, pushing spring, the spirit of the gardener, trying a new vegetable
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.