Saturday, June 8, 2013

Peas, Pasta and Growing Things


Ah, the underappreciated marigold

A week later I’m still picking peas.  Every night after work, I’ve scuttled outside to examine the pods hanging from the rich green foliage, gently examining and squeezing each one to see if it’s nice and full.



And while it wasn’t until Tuesday, and she wasn’t feeling nearly as inspired after a day of teaching, Miss Chef did make the intriguing pea-centric recipe she’d recently found in one of her many food magazines.  It starts with pasta—homemade pasta in my lucky case!  Coincidentally, when she worked Friday night at Passion8, they offered her some leftover leek pasta dough they were going to throw out otherwise. Isn’t that a nice little perq?

Other than the pasta, there are really only two other things you need to prepare.  This one is brilliant—instead of tossing the pods from your shelled peas onto the compost pile (or worse, into the trash), put them into two or three cups of water, and simmer gently for 30 minutes or an hour.  This leaves you with a kind of pea stock (which does look more like a pee sample, but that’s quite enough scatalogical talk for this blog).  Also, while your pasta is cooking, blanch your peas (we had about 1 1/2 cups) and purée them—Miss Chef simply used a stick blender in our large glass measuring cup.

The peas turned a beautiful bright green color that the camera failed utterly to capture.  Plus the natural light was gone, so these food pics won’t look nearly as good as the real thing.  Trust me.

At any rate, simply put your pasta in a dish and plop some pea purée and some goat cheese on top.


I know, the puréed peas look disgusting, but they were really attractive in person.

I’d been out picking peas again, so Miss Chef cooked them off in the stock and tossed them into the dish, too.  The next step is to pour a little of that pea-pod stock on top of your pasta assemblage and stir…


…and it all melds into a creamy, tangy pea-y sauce.


Miss Chef wasn’t entirely satisfied with this dish.  She’d forgotten to salt the pasta water (which just goes to show how distracted she was that night), and added too much liquid, so our sauce was more like soup.  But I took the leftovers for lunch the next day and was very careful about how much stock I added, and I thought it was delicious.  I will look forward to making this for years to come, even if Miss Chef doesn’t want to participate.

Of course, they are my beautiful peas, so of course I feel that way.

garden 06 (3)


In spite of my pea obsession, I am getting a few other things out of the garden now.  The carrots are ready to pull whenever we want, and there are a few cherry tomatoes coming in, one or two a day.  And there are these lovely charmers I finally plucked out of the bed.

garden 06 (8)

Anybody recognize them?  They are simple, and are scattered unhelpfully along their branches, but they raise a lovely lilac-purple face to the sun, fading to a delicate pink after a day or so.  Even though they don’t particularly lend themselves to it, I used them as a graceful backdrop in this unassuming bouquet I hastily assembled.

garden 06 (6)

The bunched pink flowers are yarrow…and you can see my purple beauties rising from the middle.  Still don’t recognize them?  That’s because they are radish flowers!  Yes, I am learning that the radish is a most useful plant.  The flowers give way to dozens of small pods that recall the shape of okra.  I peeled one open and tasted the round green immature seeds inside, and they were a grand surprise—fresh, a bit sweet, but with that telltale radish flavor.

Only a couple of days after I’d pulled all the plants and tossed them onto the compost pile did I remember to google “eat radish seeds.”  I learned that the entire pods are edible, either raw in a salad or sauteed like any other vegetable.  The ones I pulled are all soft and wilted now, but next year, I will harvest them, too!  I think I like them even better than the radishes themselves, and they will provide the perfect excuse to let those purple flowers grace my garden again.  (Oh, by the way, the yellow flowers in my bouquet are from the broccoli that’s bolted.)

Now to the garden itself.  If you’ve listened to the US news this week, you may be familiar with the visitor who came through.  Her name was Andrea, and while she only brushed by us, she did drop many inches of rain over about three or four days.  I was quite happy the peas were getting all the water they would need to plump up those pods, but by Friday I was getting a little concerned about “too much of a good thing.”

However, late Saturday morning the sun finally broke through and scattered the clouds into our familiar Carolina blue sky.  So this evening I stood in my usual photography corner to document.

Here’s a week ago:

garden 06 (4)


And today:


It may look the same to you, but I see that the peas are just a bit fuller and higher than last week, and the parsnips have gotten noticeably taller.  (Also the radishes are gone, so now I can see the broccoli—which will be the next to be pulled.)

Last week the beans looked a little worn out from the sun, but today they are quite happy.  Small as they are, I’m considering starting to harvest from them already!

garden 06 (11)

These are a “haricot vert” variety, meaning they are to be picked young and tender and eaten whole.  They are the only green beans I am eager to see at the markets, so I was really excited to find a bush, heirloom variety of seeds this spring.  I’ve had trouble in the past with germination, so I planted three, hoping for two plants.  Of course, all three came up, so now I’ll be up to my ears in beans!  That’s ok, I’ll blanch and freeze them, and share any that I don’t want.  I work with a whole office full of people who don’t garden, but do enjoy fresh produce.

I may be sharing some squash too.

garden 06 (26)

The bigger one is only about two inches long, but again, I ended up with three plants when I only wanted two.  Clever packaging on the part of the farmers at the market, that one.  I’ve frozen squash in the past, but didn’t really enjoy eating it out of the freezer, so I may be leaving squash on doorsteps all over the neighborhood.

In the meantime, there are more peas to be picked.  I’m going to head out there now with my little basket, and leave you with this image.  I can see at least five pods; how many can you find?

garden 06 (24)


Are you familiar with John Grey, scruffy gentleman farmer of Wales?  He is the tenderhearted, straight-spoken host of a blog named Going Gently.  I avoided subscribing to his blog for years, because everybody was reading it, but I eventually got hooked, and I swear one day I’m going to find my way to his corner of Wales.

Now John recently posted what I’ll call an auditory video.  Which is to say, a video not meant to be watched so much as listened to, because we tend to be so visually oriented that we miss much of what our ears are capturing.  So he spent a minute or so on the grass, recording a hen clucking, traffic noise, Bingley the turkey gobbling, and a fierce canine defense of the property.  I found this a charming idea, and promptly went outside to record my own backyard noise.

What I discovered was that it all depends on the time of day.  The first video below was done on Saturday afternoon.  You can hear one neighbor’s decrepit air-conditioning unit in the background, and another neighbor’s dachshund sentries.  (At 0:55 and 1:10 you can also hear a hawk, though.)  In another video I won’t bore you with, there was a lawn mower, children shouting in play, and a leaf blower.

So I decided to see what Sunday morning sounded like.  You can hear yet another neighbor’s pool pump running, but mostly you hear birds.  What’s amazing is that in neither video do I seem to have captured a plane passing overhead—we live less than five miles from the end of the nearest runway at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.  Maybe I did get one but I’m too conditioned to blocking out the noise.

Anyway, if you care to actually watch either one of these videos, you’ll also see a bit more of the backyard, with focus on, of course, the garden.



  1. Mmmm...looks fabulous!
    It is so amazing to see how far ahead your gardens are... it seems like we are just waking from winter!

    1. I've had to remind myself that we are, indeed, in June, and it's really getting into summertime. Back in Ohio, we'd only be putting away the boots and gloves.

  2. I adore your " action" shot of the bowl of food pre eating
    Very Spielberg xxx

    1. Some of my best photos have been accidents.

  3. I watched John's videos earlier, and now yours, and what I learned is that we are very quiet here on the prairie!
    Your garden looks grand. I'll pass on the pureed peas, though.

  4. That bouquet is so neat! Who'd have thought that past-due vegetable tops would have a second life in a vase? The pasta and peas looks like my kind of eating.

    I couldn't hear the hawk in the first video, but was that a mourning dove in the second one, starting at 1:21? Some of those moved into our neighbourhood a half a dozen years ago; we used to like their coo-ing. Over the years - and it didn't take many - we have had days we thought we would go mad from it :)

  5. I was thinking of making a sound recording the other day too! In my case it was because the auditory landscape has been taken over three days in a row by battling crows. We don't know if it's a turf war or what, but all day long we hear CAW, CAW, CAW...

    Your garden is looking lovely! We ate the first two snap peas today, and are looking forward to a great deal of pea eating in the next couple of weeks. Maybe pasta!

  6. I have issues with veggies sometimes too. I mean, I hate when the supermarket runs out of yellow squash.

  7. Bonjour Alison. A lovely post. Bonne nouvelle: I have just nominated you for the Liebster Blogger Award. Bon weekend! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)


Thanks for dropping by--please share your thoughts!

"Every time we get comment mail, Rosie wags her tail!" (Seriously, you should see that puffy thing go.)