We all like fresh, seasonal vegetables that have small carbon footprints. There is nothing sadder than a hot house tomato in the middle of winter. Enjoying freshly picked vegetables out of your own garden is pure bliss. And while it’s probably too late this year to plant your own peas, it is worth putting a note on your calendar to start a pea farm of your own next March. You can even start them in windowsill containers, so you’ll have more to enjoy than just grocery store basil plants.
On a trip to Charleston, South Carolina back in the days of travel and eating in restaurants, I had an early spring salad with snap peas, radishes, fennel, strawberries and lemon buttermilk vinaigrette. The addition of the snap peas was a revelation! I had never thought of adding peas to a salad. I have tossed snow peas into stir fry, and English peas into Fettucini Alfredo, but sugar snap peas cold in a salad, lightly bathed in buttermilk dressing? Genius. They were better than bacon-fried croutons! That tasty moment was almost as pleasant as memories of childhood, eating peas from the garden.
Tiny little snap pea pods are sweet and crunchy, unlike English peas, which need to be shelled. And snow peas, while you can eat them from stem to stern, have thinner shells and are flaccid, yet are quite deelish in their modest way. https://www.thespruce.com/garden-vs-snow-and-sugar-snap-1403487
I’ve been venturing back into the garden now that we don’t have to worry about a frost. I have planted some containers with tomatoes and basil plants, and have filled the raised bed with seeds of flowers that promise to be irresistible to hummingbirds and other pollinators. It’s too early right now to tell what is a precious sown wildflower seed, and what might be a pernicious weed. I am hoping that the blue jays don’t discover the row of sunflower seeds before they have a chance to germinate and take root.
Elsewhere in the yard I am using newspapers and mulch again. Last year I tried that combination and for the most part, the garden beds were fairly weed-free. (Sadly, there is one corner that lets the neighbor’s invasive ivy in to roam freely, but I am game for that fight. I want to have a nice, presentable middle class hydrangea bed.)
I love this newsprint/mulch concept – supporting our local (and national) press, and recycling, without contributing to landfill. I haven’t gone too radical because I have topped the newspaper with commercial garden center mulch, but you can skip that step if you don’t mind looking at the newspaper. (Mr. Sanders is much too conventional for that approach.) I just want to control the weeds without using RoundUp and I don’t want to be like another neighbor, who eschews RoundUp, but has her yard sprayed every couple of weeks for mosquito control. I am too fond of our birds. Even the thieving blue jays. https://www.bbg.org/news/using_newspaper_as_mulch
I’m thinking of light spring-y recipes while I am weeding and mulching. It can still be pretty nippy in the morning, yet I long to make lighter foods. No more meatloaf. No more chicken pot pie. Bring on the pasta primavera, with new peas and garden-fresh farmers’ market tomatoes, please. https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a48087/lemon-primavera-bowties-recipe/
This is more interesting than a salad plate of wilting iceberg lettuce. It is redolent with springtime: https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Fresh-Peas-With-Lettuce-and-Green-Garlic/
This transcendent pea compound butter is good on toast, or spread on cooked meats: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spring-pea-butter-with-shallot-and-lemon
This recipe caused a stir in New York City a few years ago, and I think it will make for a very nice appetizer on the back porch this weekend. Green Pea Guacamole. Something light and crunchy, to go with our newest discovery – rosé Prosecco. https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/green-pea-guacamole.html
It is time to stop thinking of peas as something stodgy that we dig out of the freezer to be a side dish for winter-y meats and mashed potatoes. They are among the springiest of vegetables. Welcome, spring!
“We lived very simply – but with all the essentials of life well understood and provided for – hot baths, cold champagne, new peas and old brandy.”