Mid- summer time in Georgia is filled with scorching humid days and many annoying pests. It is also filled with delicious dishes on our dinner tables. In my growing up days, backyard gardens were filled with rows of summer vegetables that were at their peak and ready for picking and filling our plates. Peas were eaten daily, and there were many varieties, black-eyed, crowders, purple hull and just plain field peas. The favorite that was saved for Sunday dinner was a tiny white pea know as a “lady finger’ and was the dickens to shell. The name has become “White Acre” and is sold canned, frozen, and if you are lucky, you can have the pleasure of shelling fresh from the garden. Bowls of peas would have small pods of okra on top and fried okra on the side. My favorite was butterbeans. Okra completed this dish also. Boiled corn-on-the cob or cut off the cob and creamed with butter, juices from scraping the cob and lots of black pepper joined the peas on your plate. No summer meal was complete without sliced red-ripe tomatoes sprinkled with salt and cucumbers with sliced onions marinating in a bowl. On my table there were always hot peppers. Add to this a pitcher of sweet tea, a thin hoecake of cornbread cooked on a cast-iron griddle, and you have a meal fit for a king. Haven’t even mentioned desserts. Peach trees grew in many yards. Blackberries grew wild and often beside a dirt road. All were made into cobblers and pies and sometimes with home- churned ice cream to top it off. It has been a long time since I have been able to load up my car with fresh Georgia produce to take back to wherever I lived at the time. I shelled peas and butterbeans while traveling from Emanuel County to Texas. I dumped the hulls at rest stops along the way. When I arrived at home, I quickly prepared and froze many bags of peas and beans. This insured I would have my favorite foods. Enjoy the bounty of summer in Emanuel County. Write to Shirley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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