Touting some good veg
One hardly needs instruction in cooking peas and carrots, but this page is mainly for encouraging interest in these nutritious vegetables.
The carrot seems to be a neglected vegetable, seen most frequently as raw carrot sticks. However, carrots are about the best buy in the Produce department and are sweet and delicious. Unlike many vegetables, carrots should be bought fresh. They do not survive freezing or canning, which ruin both flavor and texture. Supermarkets like to bathe carrots constantly in water, which makes them swell and split, and shows how little they know. Select small, unsplit carrots. They keep well in the refrigerator, and can almost be a staple.
Peel with a French peeler and cut off tops and bottoms. I cut the carrots into short sticks about 2" long, quartered or halved. If cut into coins, they do not cook evenly. They can be eaten raw, of course, and are nice this way, but are even better cooked. Just cover with salted water and simmer for about 15 minutes (in Denver; less at sea level). They take a little less time than potatoes. The texture is best if they are not overcooked, but taken just to the point where they can be penetrated by a fork. Drain, add some butter and drizzle in a little maple syrup (or brown sugar, if you have no maple syrup), just enough that will coat the carrots. Let it boil over a low heat for a while to get rid of any excess water and to thicken the syrup. Add salt to taste and serve.
Fresh peas are a delicacy, one of the most delicious of vegetables. Choose pods that are a little dry and seem plump and full. Fresh peas are available only for limited periods during the year, and should be enjoyed in season. They are not as cheap as carrots, unfortunately. It is easy to develop the skill of shelling peas with a little practice. Split the pod at one end with your thumb and gently push out the peas as you spread the pod open. Unlike carrots, peas require very little cooking--a few minutes will do. Peas can also be eaten raw, but are generally preferred cooked. To make Peas and Carrots, add the peas when the carrots are just done, and simmer a few more minutes. Butter and salt are enough seasoning, without any sugar. This is a very nutritious combination of vegetables, each one complementing the other, and absolutely delicious when made from fresh ingredients.
Peas survive freezing, canning or freeze-drying very well, though in each case the characteristics are distinctive, and inferior to fresh peas in every respect. I have not seen freeze-dried peas for some time, but recall that they were very satisfactory, perhaps the best next to fresh. Frozen peas are next in quality. They require less cooking time than fresh. Canned peas have a somewhat different flavor and texture that can also be attractive, particularly when cold, as in a salad. In England, one can get "mushy peas," which are large peas mashed into a paste, that is quite tasty and eaten like mashed potatoes. Peas can be creamed (in Béchamel sauce) either alone or with small onions or boiled potato dice. There are also dried peas, which can be made into a thick soup very easily ("pease porridge") and flavored with a ham bone. All in all, peas are a healthy food that can be served in many forms.
Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 13 June 2002