Curried Shrimp, Fresh Picked Sweet Peas, PYO Johnson’s Farm, Medford, New Jersey
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 while also kicking 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 daydreaming with thoughts of summer days in old Americana, the ‘women- kind’ leisurely rocking back and forth on chairs set on whitewashed porches, woven baskets filled with peas on laps for shelling while enjoying pleasant conversation while sipping cold glasses of iced tea.
Good I didn’t check the 1896 reproduction of the Fannie Farmer cookbook prior to that daydream 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.” That statement clearly written before the advent of Birds Eye.
Within the cookbook, a few types of peas, McClean, (said the best), Champion, and Marrowfat are recommended beginning early June season followed by a mere 2 recipes, Boiled Peas (cooking time 20-60 minutes). Yikes. And Creamed Peas, adding white sauce to the former. Canned peas are also listed as variation to the latter.
Q’s on the peas then had me curious to 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 a pea and carrot croquette, potato salad, cream of pea soup, and pea timbales.
A change of face in agriculture, production, distribution, over the years.
Fortunate was 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 frozen peas option paved a new way from among the dining tables of 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 was providing hydration to fruit pickers thirsty along the trail. The purpose to eight year old boys was 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 these boys doing in plain view just three mounded rows over and a slight dirt trail between the 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.
And a changed face of Americana. Recipes colored with unique flavors, diverse, varied spices, even as part of our ever expanding melting pot.
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.
Curried Shrimp, Fresh Picked Sweet Peas, PYO Johnson's Farm, Medford, New Jersey
Adapted from the Cookbook Indochina by Jan Castorina
- For the Curry Paste Mixture:
- 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, tough outer strips removed, small bottom stem and the dry top cut off, then the fresh bulb part cut into 4 pieces
- 1 medium onion, peeled, cut into eighths
- 2 cloves garlic, halved
- 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
- 1 1/2 cups fresh picked sweet peas
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, de-veined
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- For Preparing the Curry Sauce with the Shrimp and Peas:
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/8 cup water
- 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- 6-8 leaves fresh basil, stacked, rolled, thinly sliced
- 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
- Prepare the Curry Paste Mixture:
- In the bowl of the food processor, pulse the lemongrass with a tablespoon of water until well ground
- Add in the onion and garlic, pulse again to a paste
- Add in the spices, brown sugar and the lime juice, pulse again to a saucy paste
- Use a spatula to transfer the curry paste mixture to a small bowl
- Begin Preparing the Curry Sauce with Shrimp and Peas:
- Add oil into a warmed large nonstick pan and tilt pan so oil covers all around
- Pour in the fish sauce and the water
- Stir in the Curry Paste Mixture
- Simmer on very, very low heat about five minutes, until very aromatic
- Pour in the coconut milk, stir cooking until hot, another five minutes
- Strain sauce and return to the pan
- Tumble in the shrimp, cook for three minutes, stirring
- Tip in the fresh sweet green peas, cook another five minutes or until peas are just tender
- Stir in the basil and fresh mint
- Garnish with fresh cilantro