I’m writing this ode to summertime while being serenaded by lovely summer music – an orchestral enchantment of a summer thunderstorm. We’ve been dry down here in Dixie and every little drop is a blessing. Fill our cups please!
Peas, purple hulls to be exact, sunflowers, peaches, butter and snap beans – all coming in with gusto from our farms and gardens. Mimi’s favorite thing is to shell peas, and after a myriad of places, we finally tracked down unshelled peas for her pleasure and leisure.
“So many places sell them shelled... I just want to sit and shell peas all day.” Mimi.
The nerve of us buying shelled peas – that would be robbing our grandmother of a blessing! Shell away Mimi…shell away! My grandmother’s delight I count a richest gain, for all I have to do is eat the peas. For there again is a favorite pastime of our matriarch – cooking peas. Alas, I shall resign my attempts and glory in the pot liquor of Mimi’s peas.
“I eat my peas with honey; I’ve done so all my life… I eat my peas with honey, so that they stay on my knife!” another Mimi-ism.
Cream 40’s, Pink Eyes, Lady, Zipper, and Crowder… there is a pea for just about every week of summer. As is our custom, a piece of seasoning meat with a bit of bullion and onion is the way to cook peas. “Back meat” is a delicious cut of pork to use. It is basically a pork chop cut from another angle, so it is lean and flavorful. Country butchers such as M and T and Striplings gladly offer the cut. You’re family may cause a ruckus for the back meat pieces that have stewed in the pea liquor… good eatin’ my friends, good eatin’! I’m glad it’s summertime!
I stopped for gas en route home the other day and saw a truckload of peaches – literally! The gentlemen purveying the peaches told me they weren’t the prettiest but they tasted good. He said they were “cookin’ peaches” and I knew just what I’d cook with them – cobbler! He told me that “by the time you cut out the spots, there wasn’t too much to look at, so just chop ‘em all up and make a cobbler or something.” “Yes Sir” I replied and obeyed his orders for our Sunday dinner. I’m glad it’s summertime!
Sunflowers and hydrangeas – is there a more sublime summer tableaux? I know why Mr. van Gogh was enthralled with them as I have been since childhood. The geometry and outrageously jaunty nature of the flower is stunning.
Yellow and blue are just the cat’s pajamas for a color combo. Mason jars aplenty await to boast their brimming bouquets of these summer staples around my house.
They last so long and if you plant different varieties of the two flowers in your garden, you’ll have a summer solstice full of them. This duet will always bring a smile to my face. I’m glad it’s summertime!
Whether it’s a country road I found particularly pretty, a truckload of peaches, a vignette of that perfect glass of tea or just some summer’s best, the sweltering season does have its highlights.
From this Farmer’s neck of the woods to yours, I’m glad it’s summertime ya’ll!
James T. Farmer III was born and raised in Georgia, where he continues to live and work as a landscape designer. He shares his love of food, flowers and photography on his blog All Things Farmer.
by Chef Mark Shoup