Peas, Peas, Peas. Bright green and sweet to the taste, even raw.
A great way to pickem’ the pods off the long rows of vines draped above the bedded soil, and, kick off Father’s Day weekend with a free hayride and ice cream for Dad, all part of one celebration at Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, New Jersey.
Located just short miles off the Tacony Palmyra Bridge from Philadelphia. Count on weekend shore traffic, however, and, lane closures since the bridge is currently undergoing repairs.
Tiny green shaped balls picked from the pods yielded about a half dozen each pod.
Shelling peas takes a bit of time. Rather fun sitting at an outdoor table envisioning thoughts on early summer of old Americana, the women kind leisurely rocking back and forth on chairs sat on whitewashed porches, woven baskets of peas on laps enjoying pleasant conversation then later sipping cold glasses of iced tea, sharing a sweet treat.
Good I didn’t check the 1896 reproduction of the Fannie Farmer cookbook prior for it seems that outside of what folks might have produced in home gardens (requiring a lot of planting for a decent yield) it wasn’t all that common acquiring spring peas. Indicated as coming mostly from Florida and California the book shares, “although high in price are hardly worth buying, they having been picked so long.” A few types of peas, McClean, (said the best), Champion, and Marrowfat are recommended beginning early June followed by a mere 2 recipes, Boiled Peas (cooking time 20-60 minutes) and, Creamed Peas, adding white sauce to the former, then canned peas also listed as variation to the latter.
Q’s on the peas then had me curious thus checking out The American Woman’s Cookbook published in 1944. Here we have a whopping seven pea recipes, three of these though using the dried variety, leaving the fresh pea side dishes and accompaniments to pea and carrot croquette, potato salad, cream of pea soup, and pea timbales.
A change of face in agriculture, production, distribution, over the years. Let us also remember the popular transition from canned, to bright green frozen peas. Surely this invention put a smile on the face of many an American child. Forgoing years of squints like juice of a grapefruit shot in the eyes, the newer option paved the way from among the dining tables dreaded vegetables’ mush of yuck…. peasssss to hooray for bright green peas!
Besides the hayride and ‘Pick Your Own’ at Johnson’s, a large grill sits central to the luncheon dining area offering a variety of burgers, hot dogs, chicken legs, pulled pork, along with the selection of other usual summer barbecue suspects, reasonably priced for families. Plenty of wood picnic style tables fill the surrounding area enabling ample space to enjoy the meal. Adding to the festive environment, a friendly DJ spins great tunes among a diverse variety of eras and genres.
One of the highlight showcases currently featured at Johnson’s Farm includes a collection of old farm tractors from early 1900’s. Varying shapes, sizes and colors, each new large black tire machine building on greater efficiency, contributing its own part in the changing face of agriculture over the years. Abundance and expanded food selections a part of the unique role too, eventually making their way into the diverse kitchens of America cultivating many unique possibilities in recipe development.
The photo above, Pop-Pop, a good sport rounding up the day with his Grandson, the J-Dude, and his two best neighborhood buddies. That is, yes, three eight year old boys, three very active eight year old boys testing tractors, going on a hayride, and ‘picking their own,’ well sort of picking their own. Next time around, the contest, who can fill the basket with the most fruits or vegetables first. Pop-Pop.
And his grandson, the J-Dude, no doubt displaying his very vivid imagination. No, the boy is not really revving up the engine for a ride across the fields.
God Bless America.
Cherry picking was the first stop along the hayride trail. Collecting beautiful bunches of the pink and yellow variety cherries filled into a medium sized cardboard basket re-used from another Pick Your Own farm visit in Pennsylvania last year. Delicious. Washed and simply plucked one by one straight from a bowl. The three boys picked about ten cherries each, ok eight. There were after all, in the not too far away distance, two tall coolers of water hoisted up onto a long picnic table alongside soft white triangular paper cups more commonly found at medical offices. The purpose, providing hydration to fruit pickers thirsty along the trail. The purpose to eight year old boys, how many cups of cold water they could drink at once. Who won?
Tart, sweet, cherry tree varieties lined between the other, enough to fully stuff the designated basket with juicy antioxidant delight before hopping back onto the hayride to the next destination, strawberries, and, peas, of course. I’ve literally no pictures of strawberries to show in this post. The boys seemed like they were busy picking. One to two handfuls each was the final yield. No kidding. OK the more experienced J-Dude picked just short of half the quart box. What were they doing in plain view just three mounded rows over and a slight dirt trail between lining bulging pea pods on the vines? Do eight year old boys really talk as much as the old women of Americana rocking on whitewashed porches?
Well, no matter, a wonderfully fun day was had by all at Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford. A changed face of agriculture, an opportunity for adults and kids alike to hop aboard the straw of a flat bed truck, appreciating and enjoying the fruits of a farm, experiencing a harvest picking among so many choices and varieties. A changed face of America. Recipes colored from those of the past infusing different flavors, new varied spices, even as part of our ever expanding melting pot. Juicy zesty lime, garlic, chopped onion, mixed with Asian lemongrass, some brown sugar mixed with fish sauce. A new pleasure combination for enjoying bright green balls plucked from pods, so very sweet to taste, Curried Shrimp, Fresh Picked Sweet Peas.
PYO Johnson’s Farm offers a variety of family friendly events weekly, including weekday evening specials. A market store behind the luncheon grill sells a selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, pastries and other assorted specialties. There is also a Discovery Barnyard, Animal Farm, Splash Pad, and children’s play area. Johnson’s is located at 133 Church Road, Medford, New Jersey 08055. Phone: 609-654-5894. Johnson’s Corner Farm is part of the Burlington County Farmland Preservation Program.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh picked sweet peas
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, de-veined
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- Curry Paste Mixture (recipe below)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/8 cup water
- 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- 6-8 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade cut strips
- 10 leaves fresh mint, leaves removed from stem, coarse chopped, sliced or torn
- 3-5 stems fresh cilantro, stems removed, leaves kept whole for topping dish
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped lemongrass (remove tough outer leaf strips, cut off stem at bottom end, chop about a 3 inch piece)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch allspice
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- spice grinder, food processor
- large nonstick pan or wok
- Into a spice grinder or food processor blend all of the spice ingredients together into a paste.
- Add oil into a warmed large nonstick pan or wok and tilt pan so oil covers all around. Pour in water and fish sauce, stir, then add in the curry paste stir throughout and cook the mixture on very, very low heat about three or four minutes until very aromatic. Pour in the coconut milk and stir cooking until hot. Sauce may be strained at this point if any bit pieces of lemongrass are not desired otherwise proceed scraping in the shrimp cooking on low heat for three minutes, stirring. As the shrimp just begins to color tumble in the fresh sweet green peas. Cook another five to six minutes until shrimp is fully cooked and peas are just tender. Stir in the basil and fresh mint. Top with fresh leaves of cilantro or serve alongside.