August 17, 2010

Purple Hull Peas

Purple Hull Pea

Purple Hull Peas are one of the greatest tasting things that God has given us. I now do not have a place to plant them. I did have some on Sunday thanks to sister. She has grown, picked and shelled the whole season. They are to be the main dish for her daughter's wedding reception. Someone has raised you well when for you are a bridezilla, and want peas, fried chicken and creamed potatoes for your fancy-smancy wedding reception.
Shelling peas was never, ever that much fun.Shelling Peas was a job that like most of my childhood jobs, I made the most out of. I would find a way to make it interesting. The ladies that helped us had stories that were as good as any book and I was all ears. The peas  turned your fingers purple and made them sore. Your thumbs were purple and sore more than the rest of your fingers. As with everything Grandmother liked to eat the most or was very economical we grew it by the acre. Peas were one of the things that was planted by the patch, not by the row. They were not picked by the bucket. We picked them in five gallon buckets and dumped them into washtubs at the end of the row.
Shelling Peas Giclee Poster Print by Carlton Alfred Smith, 9x12
Click to order Print
The tubs were then toted into the livingroom to be shelled. The regular shellers were Mama, Grandmother and me. There were many times that the neighbor ladies would help. We shelled and what the stories on TV. As the World Turns and Guiding light was my grandmother's favorites.Two ladies that could be counted on was Pearline and Sis they were always ready to help. It was wonderful to me because I got to listen to all the lastest gossip of day. I knew more than most little girls really needed to know. Pearline had nerve problems. she had been in the 400 ward at ECM lots of times. She had even spent time in Tuscaloosa at the mental hospital. She came to shell peas or whatever most of the time. If she did not come my grandmother would say she was having a spell with her nerves. Grandmother always talked about Pealine's leg jumping when she rested it on the piece that went around the bottom of a ladder back chair. I came to learn later that if anyone rests their leg with knee bent it is a reflex that most everyone does. Mama visited Pealine very often. I did too, but would freeze to death at her house in the summer. They were the only folks around I remember having an airconditioner. I used to go outside to get warm when I was at Preacher and Pealines's. Preacher worked at Reynolds Metal Company, so his income let them afford airconditioning. They also had icecream most of the time.I embarressed my grandmother many times by not realizing who was related to who. Getting into grown ladies conversations was something that I know made Grandmother antsy, scared what I might repeat. I told Sis once that Grandmother said that Nadean Wright was raised by her husband. He made her just the way he wanted her to be. because she was only 13 when they married. Geeze, I didn't know that Nadean and Sis were sisters. My grandmother turned as purple as the hulls of the peas. She was the one that said it, but forgot to tell me not to repeat everything she said.

She got on to me big time after Sis left that day. My goodness that was not near as bad as some of the stuff I could have joined the conversations with. There were the, "did you see Leila slip up to Eds house while Leonard took the corn to the barn?" and "that youngest boy looks just like Ed", comments. I at least never let that kinda stuff slip. Probably, because it had not been meant for me to hear in the first place. I gathered more than anything we grew or put up for winter.. I gathered knowledge of human behavior.
Sunday dinner during late summer gardening season was wonderful.
Fried Chicken
Creamed Potatoes
Fried Okra
Creamed White Corn
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced onion
Peas and Cornbread
Sweet Tea
We had to sweeten our tea because Daddy wanted it unsweet. Amazing to me as frugile as Grandmother was; everyone know how much more sugar it takes to sweeten iced tea. What the men wanted was always one of her priorities. She tried to please them to get them to do some work. Not that it ever made a difference.
In late summer the tomatos seemed to taste better. It was probably, because we knew they would soon be gone. Combinations of foods was something Grandmother taught me. When there was only one or two dishes putting the right stuff together was impotant.The way to fix potatoes to go with certain things. Fried Potatoes are better with peas. Mashing peas and sourkraut together with cornbread is the tastiest thing ever. A bite of fried potatoes with a bite of kraut, is yummy. One of her greatest eat together things was greenbeans and onion. She always said, I hardly eat an onion unless it's with greenbeans."

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