Peas, tomatoes fit for king

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2011

I ran into a pleasant surprise during a quick trip to my favorite produce store a few days ago. I’d stopped in to buy some tomatoes for my son who was visiting from Louisiana. After I selected a choice basket of tomatoes, I spied some peas. I guess I had just been so busy lately, I didn’t realize it was time for peas to come in. I was so happy to find those peas that I took a bag full home along with my tomatoes.

Seems like there’s nothing more delightful than a bowl full of fresh peas and a plate of red, luscious sliced tomatoes spread on my table. If I add my favorite chicken casserole, cornbread or rolls, and frosty glasses of sweet iced tea, it will set my family bragging about my cooking for three or four days. Several of us feasted that way at noon the day after I brought the peas home and shelled them. That night, as I prepared for bed, my daughter was popping some corn bread muffins in the oven and heating the left-over peas for herself and her brother. It was far too late for me to indulge, but I was glad they were going to enjoy another delicious meal.

We three discussed how my mother enjoyed a similar meal—especially peas. She took a helping of peas, then broke open a wedge of cornbread and poured a generous helping of pea juice over it. We would often comment that such fare was “food fit for a king.”

Of course, I couldn’t mention favorite foods at my house without acknowledging fresh tomatoes. I loved to use tomatoes large enough to cut one slice that fit right on top of a slice of bread for my husband’s tomato sandwiches. A tomato sandwich suited him at just about any meal or snack time with the exception of breakfast.

Back when my husband had a garden every summer, we had tomato sandwiches for either lunch or supper each day. One time my mother and I got sick a few days after the tomato plants quit producing. We came to the conclusion that we were suffering from tomato withdrawal.

I’ve always had a hard time deciding on a meal, especially when I was working. I would stand in front of my refrigerator many nights, wondering just what in the world I was going to cook. Somehow, back then, I managed to buy, shell, process and freeze enough peas every summer to last for several months. They were always my stand-by meal when I didn’t have time or feel like preparing a meat. I’d just put a bag of my frozen peas in my old faithful pressure cooker, slice some tomatoes, make some cornbread and I was in business.

If I’m smart, I’ll manage to get some vegetables in my freezer this summer. I certainly still have a need for my old stand-by peas and I’ll depend on the produce store for more luscious tomatoes. ­