For the next few days I want to pay homage to George Washington Carver. Carver was an African-American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown, but he is believed to have been born into a slave family in Missouri, in the early 1860’s.
Carver worked with the Tuskegee Agricultural Experiment Station, Alabama, and he pioneered the growing of alternative crops, particularly for the impoverished soil in the South. He published 44 bulletins on the cultivation and use of a range of these crops, and a number of them contained recipes. Today I want to give you a few ideas from Bulletin No. 13 How to Cook the Cow Pea, published in 1908.
Cow peas are also known as black-eyed peas. At the time Carver wrote his bulletin, they were grown as a fodder crop. He began his paper by saying:
The popularity of the cow pea is increasing from every point of view from year to year. Someone has wisely said that as a crop, cow peas are to the South what clover is in the North, and alfalfa to the West. And we trust that the time is not too far distant, when, as an article of human food, the pea itself will be to the South what the Boston, Navy and White soup beans are to the East and West. … As a food for man, it may be prepared in sufficient number of ways to suit the most fastidious palate.
He then gave thirty-two recipes for the legume. Here are my choices for the day:
Brown some peas in the oven the same as for green coffee. To a given quantity (the strength desired determining this) add one third pure coffee, boil and clarify the same as for the other coffee. Some like it just as well to leave out the pure coffee altogether.
Chow Chow of Peas.
Take one quart of tender peas in the pod, one quart of shelled green peas, one quart of green tomatoes, chopped, one quart of chopped onions, one pint of chopped peppers (half green and half ripe) half a cup of white mustard seed, half cup of salt, four stalks of celery chopped fine. Add sugar and curry powder to taste. The peas should be put into cold water and brought to a boil, drop in a lump of soda the size of a pea, boil until one-third cooked, drain water off thoroughly, wash in cold water, drain and chop before adding the other ingredients. Cover with cold vinegar.
Roasted Peas.Take peas when the pods have just begun to turn yellow, put in moderate oven until thoroughly roasted. Serve the same as for roasted peanuts.