I spent the summer after we moved to the country sitting under carports and on porches learning how to shuck corn and shell peas and butter beans.
I learned to say “Yes ma’am.”
And I learned all about what was happening with everyone else who lived along that winding road near the piney woods.
I also learned that it took a fair amount of scrubbing to return my purple, hull-stained fingers back to their normal color.
Several family members chipped in, spending hours “putting up” everything we could from all sorts of gardens combined. By the end of the day, everyone had stocked their freezers a little more to keep us all in garden-fresh food after the season passed.
My stepfather and his family grew so much produce we would often have dinners of just fresh vegetables, beans and cornbread, save for a little salt meat in the peas or beans.
Once in a while, I still get cravings for a good vegetable dinner. When I set about making slow-cooked peas and smothered okra and tomatoes, my husband usually says, “Looks like you’re cooking north Louisiana food again,” as he strolls through the kitchen. He makes a good point. In the northern half of the state, we seemed to cook more vegetables than rice-based dishes.
I had some purple hulls in the freezer, and I found fresh okra and some beautiful red and yellow tomatoes at the market earlier in the week. I had just about everything I needed for a full plate of comfort food.
The smells of stewed vegetables and slow-cooked peas and smoky ham always remind me of simpler times, before smartphones and deadlines, when we visited and worked together on something like putting up fresh vegetables for later.
I hope you’ll enjoy these classic recipes for garden fresh vegetables. They fit my nostalgic cravings, but you can add different seasonings or meats to make them more modern.
The following recipes are very simple in method; they just a take a little sweet time. Spend it wisely.