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Posted on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 : 4:49 a.m.

Crowder Peas and Okra with Tomatoes and Scallions a Michigan twist on a Southern comfort food

By Peggy Lampman


Crowder Peas with Tomato-Scallion Relish

Peggy Lampman | Contributor

Peggy Lampman's Wednesday dinnerFeed

"I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It makes my peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife." (author unknown)

A friend of ours, Jack Harvey, is visiting, and lamented how he missed good 'ole, right-off-the-farm country cooking. Jack, a retired Michigan head track coach, just had knee surgery, so I decided to cook up some country cooking to warm his soul.

My original intent was to make a bowl of our beloved fried okra. You see, Jack was raised in Tennessee where fried okra — as in most parts of the deep South — is a specialty.


Shelled Crowder Peas

Peggy Lampman | Contributor

I decided to shop at the produce truck (out of Dundee) that parks at the K Station on the corner of Packard and Stadium. After I selected the okra, the gentleman asked me if I was from the south (was the okra a hint?).

I told him, yes indeed — I grew up outside of Birmingham, Ala. He replied he grew up in Florence, Ala.; turns out we both left for Michigan after high school.

We salivated discussing the foods we grew up on, and he described his recipe, which combines okra with crowder peas. I shucked my plans for fried okra to make the recipe he described. I was sorry I didn't get his name and I didn't have my camera to take his picture. He did, however, assure me that I could pen the recipe to share with you.


Poor Jack!

Peggy Lampman | Contributor

There is nothing fast about this recipe. It took a solid 40 minutes to shell the peas. (Keep that in mind when you're paying for freshly shucked beans at farmer's markets.) As my son tapped at his smartphone, I shelled peas. I think we may have shared a conversation, but I was glad for once to have busy fingers during our visit.

I purchased a couple of fat steaks from Sparrow Meats to make a dish suitable for the gods... and Jack. Jack was mighty pleased, forgetting his troubled knee. Between bites, as he gobbled the peas, he recited the peas and honey verse his mother recited to him as a child.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Time to shuck peas: 40 minutes
Active Time (after shucking peas): 15 minutes


2 cups shelled crowder peas
2 pieces of chopped up bacon
1 cup small okra, top and tip removed
2 scallions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar


1. Place peas and chopped bacon in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes; stir in okra and cook an additional 15 minutes. Turn off heat, season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and let sit in seasoned water for an hour.
2. To make a relish, combine scallions, tomato and vinegar. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve over peas.

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