Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nellie's Matter of Fact Peas

Ultimately not my favorite thing I've ever made, but if you like peas, you might want to give this a try?

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: I have a hard time getting excited about eating vegetables. It's not that I don't like them, I just don't gravitate towards them when I'm deciding what I want to eat at any given moment, unless it's out of guilt. You know, the "I've only eaten junk food today, I should probably eat something with vitamins in it" sort of guilt, which I'm especially susceptible to when I'm left to my own devices even after starting this blog, which was supposed to help me learn to cook. Oops?

Anyway, unfortunate this is not the recipe that's going to get me excited about eating peas. I actually like peas just fine right out of the freezer bag! And there's always those Jeffersonian peas I made a couple months ago if you're looking for something a little more fancy. Matter of Fact Peas? Didn't really do it for me, so I'm putting that out there right now.

However, several of my taste testers did like this quite a bit apparently (I hope they weren't just trying to spare my feelings, because I definitely would not be offended if they said they were gross!) and it's not like I've never shied away from posting a failed recipe before, so here it is. Matter of Fact Peas.

Another reason I wanted to post this instead of deciding it wasn't worth the effort is that I actually have some fun trivia about peas to share! At this point, you're probably saying "Gwen, how is that even possible? They're just peas," but bare with me.

Peas are another one of those plants that's been domesticated pretty much since the dawn of human civilization. What's particularly interesting about them is that because they keep for a long time, are relatively nutritious and can easily be grown in your own backyard instead of buying them from someone else, they've been a staple crop in staving off starvation during times of famine and difficult periods of early colonization. My fun story involves the latter: during the early colonization of Canada by the French, dried peas were an important staple of those brave enough to settle there. They'd keep for an exceptionally long time, and when rehydrated made a soup that was nutritious enough to keep people alive even when there wasn't much else to eat. Unfortunately, living off only peas is a great way to slowly waste away anyway, so people did still suffer from malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies, but that's better than starving to death outright, isn't it? One of my professors in college talked about how people who excavate these sites can still find little stashes of dried peas that look more or less edible even after four hundred years of lying in the dirt.

I really wouldn't recommend actually eating them, obviously, but that's still pretty neat, isn't it?

I got my recipe from, and you can find it here! You begin with your dried peas, which get poured into a pan on the stove with a half teaspoon of baking soda and three and a half cups of boiling water. These get left to soak overnight.

The next day, you drain off the water, put in a teaspoon of baking soda, cover them with just enough water to cover the top of the peas, and bring it to a boil. This gets simmered on the stove for about twenty minutes, and then gets seasoned with butter, salt and pepper to taste.

So, that's pretty easy, right? But I'm not really sure what happened with my version of it. It doesn't look anything like the pictures provided with the recipe, and the peas were still very al dente by the time they were supposed to be done cooking, despite having soaked all night. I thought the texture was a little unappetizing, and it wasn't exactly flavorful, which I think shouldn't be much of a shock. The descriptions of the very basic pea soups used by people during, you know, famines made it sound pretty bland and not exactly tasty either, so it's not shocking that this isn't a dish you might be thrilled to eat when we've got things like Oreos at our disposal.

Still, I'm wondering if part of this is just me not being sure what to expect with dried peas. I'm pretty sure I've never had them before, and I was expecting them to taste a little more like steamed peas, which is silly because obviously in drying, they've changed texture and flavor quite a bit. My other taste testers seemed to appreciate both of those more than I did, so it might just come down to expectations versus reality for me.

Anyway, it was still neat to try even if it didn't work out the way I wanted to, and for some reason that little anecdote about the peas stuck with me, so I wanted to share it. Hopefully our next recipe won't be as moderately disappointing!

Better luck next time, I guess!


  1. I liked all the history you shared with this blog. Even if the recipe isn't as awesome as you may have hoped, you gave your readers an opportunity to learn some neat stuff
    about peas.

    1. Thank you! That's very encouraging to hear. :D