We didn’t have a farm per se, it was more of a hobby farm. Looking back it was an interesting learning experience for me but at the time, a vegetable garden (a large one at that!) and a few farm animals meant outside chores increased and that ate into my summer time fun. When my siblings and I got older, we would help mom prepare the vegetables and shelling peas was one I did not mind doing. I was at the Alderney Farmers’ Market on Saturday and spotted a bag of peas. Seeing them I instantly recalled a dish my mom would make when the first round of vegetables were ready to eat – hodge podge – that’s what she called it. Basically it’s fresh veggies such as peas, string beans, new potatoes and carrots. Some cooks will make it more like a stew but the way my mom made it was very simple…once the veggies were cooked either boiled or steamed, drain, combined in a pot and add butter and milk (place over low heat until butter has melted and milk is warmed). To prepare the fresh peas you need to shell them. To shell, all you need to do is pull the stringy bit at the top and pull down. Pry open the pod at the seam using your thumbs and run your finger down to clear out the peas. The next step, how to cook fresh peas, is simple.
Add peas to a small pot and barely cover with water.
Bring to a slow boil and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Do not add salt to the water as this will toughen the peas. Drain and return peas to the pot but don’t turn on the heat. Add a knob of butter, sea salt and pepper and stir until butter melts. Garnish, if you like, with freshly chopped mint.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: When picking your own peas, choose pods that are medium in size as the large ones can produce tougher peas and generally not a pleasant taste. When shelling peas, taste one, it should be tender and sweet. Try puréeing the cooked peas with garlic, pine nuts, touch of lemon juice, S&P, and spread this on a toasted slice of bread. Enjoy!