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Peas, Please!

Spring is the time for fresh peas. Eat them straight from the vine, boil, steam, or freeze them. Even canned peas can be delightful. These sweet green treats come in several varieties to be shelled, eaten pod and all, or even somewhat pea-less, such as the snow pea. Whatever your favorit may be, peas are easy to grow and are very versatile in the kitchen for salads, side dishes, appetizers, and soups.

Where Do Peas Come From?


Peas likely originated in the northern areas of Central Asia and the Middle East. Archaeological digs have carbon-dated peas to around 10,000 BC in a cave on the border of Burma and Thailan. One of the earliest cultivated crops, peas accompanied travellers and explorers on their journeys, expanding the popularity of peas. Apicius, the famous Roman cookbook author, includes nine recipes for peas.

Peas were a favorite of Catherine de Medici when she married Henry II of France, thus spreading their popularity in French cuisine. Thomas Jefferson liked peas so much that he and his chef planted 30 varieties. Peas thrived in the rich soils of the South in the United States in the 1800s and by 1870 were being canned by the Campbell Soup Company. When frozen vegetables became possible in the 1930s, peas were a prime candidate, since freezing them quickly after being picked helped retain their sweetness.


Crisp Snow Peas with Cream Cheese Filling


Everything you want in an appetizer - quick and easy to prepare, bright color, and tasty.

24 snow pea pods
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbl. sour cream
1 Tbl. ranch or Italian dressing seasoning mix (or your own combination of herbs)

1. Boil snow peas for 1 minute. Drain and immediately immerse in ice water.

2. When peas are chilled, drain and pat dry. Slice off about 1/8 from each end and slit open along the curved edge.

3. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and seasoning in a medium bowl. Blend well with a hand mixer. Transfer to a pastry bag with a decorative tip.

4. Pipe cream cheese mixture inside each snow pea pod. Chill to set.


Pea Culture


Peas are a funny vegetable - I loved them, my brothers had a VERY strong dislike for them. In the Spring, when the peas were ready and new potatoes were available, my Mom would cook them and combine them with a creamy white sauce. A little salt and pepper made it a delicious dish.

And what about the Princess and the Pea? Only a princess could detect such a little nugget tucked into her mattresses. What exactly was Pease Porrige? Peasants in English and Scottish 16th century homes made a thick porridge from peas since they couldn't afford much meat.

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot nine days old.

 

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