Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Wonderful Pea






When I think of vegetables I would have a hard time doing without, the pea is one of the first ones I think of. Whether picked young, shelled, and eaten for dinner that night,or frozen for winter dining, they make a most satisfying meal. And, there is nothing like sitting in the cool shade on a hot summer day shelling peas! We freeze bags and bags of them... enough so we can have pasta and peas most weeks throughout the winter. The real secret to peas is that they have to be in their prime... before the sugary pea taste turns to starch. Once a pea is too big, it is almost inedible.

Freezing peas couldn't be easier... blanch the shelled peas for 90 seconds, and drain in a colander. After they've drained for a bit, freeze them in quart freezer bags ... we freeze in 2 cup amounts, just the right amount for pasta and peas for 2. Remember to label bags with the amount and the year, bags tend to get lost in our freezer.

When peas are fresh, we love to make a fresh pea soup with butter dumplings. Sauteing lettuce is a wonderful addition, the slight bitterness of the lettuce perfectly offsets the sweet of the peas. And the bright green soup makes me think of spring, and how amazing growth, and life, and the power of the seed is.



FRESH PEA SOUP
4 cups freshly shelled peas
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 head Boston lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
salt & pepper to taste

Boil peas in a soup pot with 2 quarts water, for about 30 minutes.
In a separate frying pan, saute chopped onion 5 minutes. Add lettuce and saute till wilted.
Add onion/lettuce mixture to the peas and cook for 10 minutes.
Puree the soup in a blender, about 2 cups at a time and return to soup pot.
Add wine, cream, and season to taste.
Add the cooked dumplings ( recipe follows).
Serve hot, or cold. If you serve it cold, a dollop of Greek Yogurt stirred in to each bowl upon serving is delightful.

BUTTER DUMPLINGS

6 Tbs soft butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
pinch cayenne pepper

mix the flour with the salt and cayenne .
cream the butter in a deep bowl, and beat in the eggs. ( the eggs wont quite mix with the butter.. they will when you add the flour) Add the flour and milk alternately, beating after each addition until all the flour and milk are incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy but fairly stiff.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and drop the dough in by teaspoonfuls. Boil the dumplings, covered for 15 minutes, and transfer them with a slotted spoon to the soup.

We've been making this soup for years.. It originally came from The Vegetarian Epicure Book 2 by Anna Thomas. (1978).






Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Many Hands




Up until this past weekend there hadn't been any good haying weather. With rain every few days, there wasn't enough time to get it dry in the 3 or 4 days needed. Then last Thursday the weather broke. Hot and dry, every farmer took to their tractor and began mowing fields. All through out our valley, there was the sound of tractors. Then the rhythmic sound of the baler as the loose hay is made into bales. We don't make hay, but have been buying it from the same family for probably 15 years. When it's time to unload the baled hay, that's when the camaraderie begins.We have a steady group of wonderful friends we can call. This time it was Bruce Baldwin, and his sons Elias and Ethan, and as an extra bonus, this weekend my wonderful brother Matthew was visiting. It's a hot and heavy job, but is also such a great time.
Dean unloads the wagons by putting it on a hay elevator, and we are inside the barn stacking it.
This time we got 3 loads, about 600 bales. Later this summer we'll get another 1,200 and that will be enough to get us through.