Monday, August 23, 2010

Where'd All the Crowder Peas Go?

I know absolutely nothing about farming or gardening, but I do know what's supposed to be in season. Every year around this time, the Memphis Farmers Market is awash with fresh peas and beans of all shapes and sizes — purple hull peas, lima beans, butter beans, cream peas, lady peas, and my personal fave crowder peas.

Crowder Peas (image from DineWithDanielle.com)

But here lately, I've only been able to find fresh shelled purple hull peas and lima beans. That's it. No crowders. In case you don't know, both purple hulls and crowders are in the same cowpea family. Purple hulls are just like black-eyed peas but with more of a purplish-colored eye. And crowder peas are all squashed up in the pod, so they have squared-off ends and tend to look a little bigger. They taste about the same, but I prefer the texture of crowders to purple hulls.

Purple Hull Peas (image from BackYardChickens.com)

Does anyone know what's up with the lack of pea varieties in the Mid-South this year? We've had a way hot summer with temps in the 100s for almost a month. Could that be the culprit? Anyway, I ended up settling on a bag of shelled purple hull peas to test my Harvest Crowder Pea Soup for my cookbook:

They cook up in the same amount of time, so I think it's fine to test this recipe with purple hulls. And I guess now I can give people the option in the recipe of either crowder peas or purple hulls. If you could bottle late summer and pour it into a bowl, this soup is what it would taste like. Nothing says August to me like a fresh bowl of peas.

Soup isn't a meal without bread, so I decided to give my gently-used, new-to-me bread machine another try. Remember what happened last time? My whole wheat bread totally sank. But I took all your advice from the comments, and look what happened:

Whole wheat bread success! I subbed out whole wheat bread flour for regular whole wheat flour and I added a tablespoon and a half of vital wheat gluten flour. I also stuck around the house during the four hours of the bread machine cycle so I was ready to remove the bread as soon as it was done. Last time, I let the machine kick off while I was at work and left the bread in for several hours. This soft, wheat bread was perfect schmeared with Earth Balance and garlic powder.

15 comments:

Rick said...

congrats on the bread success, and thanks for opening my eyes to a whole world of peas i never knew existed! and damn, i miss lima beans, haven't had them in forever

Keri - I Eat Trees said...

The soup and bread look so yummy! Soup has been sounding good lately and now I definitely want some!

Chocolate-Covered Katie said...

I was JUST talking with my dad yesterday morning about how there are so many varieties of beans/peas and yet the stores sell so few. For instance, I'd never even heard of Crowder peas til your post!

Same thing with grains. Why only oats? What about spelt? And Kamut? And rye?

Final note: When in the heck is it going to get cooler? Right now, I'd settle for 90. It was up to 111 on Monday! Yikes!

The Voracious Vegan said...

I've never heard of crowder peas, but you make them look and sound delicious.

I would be lost without my ancient but foolproof bread machine. It is the easiest thing to use and it's never failed me yet. Glad yours finally worked well for you. Fresh bread is the best.

Kara Hadley said...

Finding a soup suitable for summer is difficult, but yours looks awesome.
And aren't crowder peas the ones also used in the Jamaican dish rice and peas? Because if so, I love them

The Kuntrageous Vegan said...

I have been eating crowder peas and purple hull peas all summer! I like them in a salad with crisp half runner green beans, new potatoes and a balsamic dressing. yummmmm. My brother has some kind of hook up on crowder peas though..I definitely haven't been buying them!

JennShaggy said...

If you are ever in LA, that can definitely be arranged :) We'd have a damn good time.

Damn. Soup and bread. Bring it.

Jessica said...

I wonder if the lack of variety has to do with what people want to buy. These different peas are all across the South and Texas, so I doubt heat would be much bother. I bet they could tell you at the farmers' market, though, what happened to them or if they figure they just won't sell. Here, people mostly think I'm crazy for wanting these peas. I love getting the fresh in the summer instead of dried or frozen. Your soup sounds so so good.

Michelle said...

You need to come to the Jackson farmers market...you can find all the crowders you want here!

Dianne said...

I've never heard of either of those peas! If they taste anything like black eyed, I'd probably like them. That bread is magnificent; congrats!

Tanya said...

First, congrats on the successful bread!! I need to pull out my bread machine soon and make one.

As for peas, we've been getting a lot of pink-eyed peas at the market. But of course, we're farther south than you. Never had crowder peas.

Leslie R. said...

What a yummy meal- the bread looks amazing!!

Jessica said...

Congratulations on the bread success.

I believe I could eat beans and rice every day of the week I love them so much. I especially love crowders mixed with baby limas. Yum!

jessyburke88@gmail.com

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Whoa! I wish we got these fun fresh peas here!

veg.grower said...

Unfortunately nature love crowder peas too. Most farmers are having a deer problem and the commercial industry have a high demand for them to service grocery stores. I was able to find one nursery online Henry's Nursery.order you some to grow and save seeds over to grow for your next year harvest.