Monday, May 16, 2011

Joanna and the pea fight

Visits from family tend to invoke memories.  A recent visit to this blog by my niece Joanna triggered many such memories, not the least of which involved a pea.

First a bit about Joanna with hopes that she forgives my dredging up her past.  Joanna came into this world kicking.  She never learned to walk, preferring instead to run as fast as she could on legs that measured, at least in my memory, approximately four inches floor to seat.  She broke from her run only long enough to open each and every cupboard door she encountered.  Then she would proceed to empty each cabinet of all contents making sure she missed nothing.  I soon learned to store only plastic and metal objects in those cupboards within her reach.

Joanna and her sister, Julie, three years older, spent a good amount of time at our house so my husband Lawrence and I grew to love them dearly and know them well.  Julie played quietly with her plastic horses, never raising a ruckus and rarely making a noise.  I made constant checks to make sure she had not wandered off, but I always found her just where I left her, quietly enjoying her own little world.

Not so, Joanna.  You heard her coming.  You moved out-of-the-way.  She rarely stopped to rest, earning her the name, “Jo Jo on the go go.”  She also stood firm when it came time for a fight.

I recall one time when we visited a family friend.  The friend, Virgil “Blackie” Ball, lived in a rather rough neighborhood.  Blackie and I sat inside his home visiting as Julie and Joanna played outside.  Suddenly we heard a commotion.  We raced outside to find Julie sitting on the porch while her three-year-old sister stood at the curb, hands on hips, shouting to three much larger boys across the street.  “Come over here and say that,” she shouted before picking up a rock and throwing it with all her might at the enemy.

A few years later, on Joanna’s first day of kindergarten her father, George, received a call from the school principal requesting that he come to school to talk.  It seems Joanna started and finished a fight with several second grade boys who ended up in tears.

Another example of Joanna’s grit came when my Mustang mare, Sugar, spooked and took off across our back lot with Joanna hanging on for dear life.  George, who had been holding her a moment before, raced to catch the horse without success.  However, when the horse reached the back fence, it stopped suddenly tossing Joanna, a mere toddler, to the ground.  George grabbed up the screaming Joanna and headed back to where I stood so we could check her injuries.  As the two came near and I made out what she was screaming, I could only laugh.  “Me want to ride the horse,” she sobbed.

What a kid, I thought as I dried her eyes and told her we would ride the horse again later.

Which brings me to the pea.  After I left Kansas and moved to Wyoming, Joanna often came to visit.  On one such visit, I fixed peas for dinner.  The rule at me house was always that the child at least taste what was prepared.  If the child did not like it; he or she would not need to eat more.  Joanna quickly informed me that she did not like peas.  “Try just one,” I said, and placed the one pea on her plate.

Joanna cleaned her plate, eating around the pea.  She was determined ; so was I.  “You are not leaving the table until you eat that pea,” I said.

I wish I could remember how this standoff ended but I cannot.  I do remember Joanna seated at the table long after the rest of us left.  I think, however, that the pea ended up in the trash.  So, Joanna, the following recipe is for you.

Creamed peas and potatoes

1 Small Yukon Gold potato peeled (or scrubbed) and cut into 1” cubes.

Water to cover

½ Teaspoon Kosher salt

½ Cup frozen peas

3 Tablespoons dry milk granules

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (can use olive oil if watching saturated fats)

1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour


1.     Place potato cubes in small saucepan, cover with water (filtered if available) and bring to boil over medium high heat.  When water begins to boil, add salt, lower heat and continue cooking 7-8 minutes.

2.     Add frozen peas to water with potatoes, return to boil and continue cooking 3 minutes longer.

3.     Drain potatoes and peas, reserving 2/3 cup of the liquid.  Remove potatoes and peas from saucepan and keep warm.

4.     In saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter then stir in flour to make a rue.  Cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.  Do not let the flour brown.

5.     Stir powdered milk into reserved liquid and add to the rue, whisking to combine.  Continue whisking and cooking until the sauce begins to boil and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in the reserved potatoes and peas.  Adjust seasoning if needed before serving.

Note:  This can easily be increased to serve two small appetites by using a medium to large potato and increasing the amount of peas to ¾ cup.  Or, for two  larger appetites, just double the recipe.

Note 2:  For the single cook, powdered milk is a great substitute for fresh milk without the worry of it turning sour if you don't use it right away.  I always keep it on hand and when used for cooking find no fault with the taste.  If you do not have powdered milk, you can substitute fresh milk but you miss out on some of the flavor not to mention the nutrients you get from using the cooking water.


  1. I remember the creamed peas and potatoes, one of my favorite meals, thanks for posting these recipes, they come in handy, and bring back lots of memories.

  2. I have stories I could tell on you as well. Thanks for checking in. Hope you come back. You can subscribe and be notified of new posts. You might want to just for protection. I know several good stores. Love you, Aunt Jean