This post might not make sense to you if you’re not from the South, but I had a near calamity today. I had a taste for black eye peas, so I got my trusty cast iron pot out and started washing peas. Bud made a pass through and nearly swooned with happiness when he saw how lovely I looked washing peas next to the garlic, celery, and onion waiting on the chopping block. There would be unhappiness in our home this evening if no peas and ham were forthcoming. After seasoning and starting the peas, I went to the freezer to find the meaty ham bone I’d squirreled back a couple of weeks ago. Ham bones are a gift of nature. I even knew a family who nicknamed their son Ham Bone. I think to a Southern Cook, the ham bone is more important than the ham itself, a delicacy to be hidden from nosey freezer plunderers at all costs. In fact, I have been known to threaten bodily harm when a home-wrecking guest asked Bud, not me for the ham boneafter a meal. I put a stop to that hussy then and there!
At any rate, the precious ham bone must be retrieved at the perfect point of denuding. Too much meat on the bone is wasteful. Too little just leaves the pea soup a bit anemic. I knew I had the most darling ham bone hidden away in the freezer awaiting its rendezvous with my peas. I reached in the freezer for my ham bone and found………..nothing! Well, actually I found ground beef and pork, chicken parts of various types, several kinds of sausage, vegetables and fruit a plenty, but no ham bone. I panicked. Earlier in the week, I’d asked Bud to get the frozen meat trimmings and scraps to the trash. God forbid? Had he mistaken my foil-wrapped ham bone for scraps. Worse yet, had he sneaked it out to another woman? I was almost too shattered to look, but finally found my ham bone shoved to the back of the bottom shelf behind a bag of ice. Never has a ham bone been so welcome. The peas breathed a sigh of relief when I dropped the bone in.
Our marriage was saved.
2 1/2 cups black eyed peas
8 cups water
1/2 tablespoon salt or more to taste
1/4 tablespoon black pepper
1 medium onion (whole)
1/4 c diced celery if desired
Nice ham bone
1/4 teaspoon vinegar (or pepper sauce)
Simmer all ingredients in large cooking pot on stove top burner on medium heat. Use cast-iron pot if you have one.
Cook 40-60 minutes or until peas are tender. Do not allow water to evaporate entirely. If peas are dry they will burn quickly.
Serve with hot cornbread. It is against the law to throw the pea soup out. Have it for lunch tomorrow is ver cornbread.