In another life, a respectable husband killed his wife because she had put the salt and pepper pot in the incorrect position on the table for breakfast.
The details are hazy as this was nearly 30 years ago, but I seem to remember he was your average commuting civil servant. As I worked in a press office in London full of average commuting civil servants, this was discussed with great interest.
In our case, I was unlikely to be killed for misplacing the salt and pepper pot (they don’t work in our climate) but the case of the pea seeds was heading for the divorce court.
I follow strict crop rotation, so after the last of my roots, in this case onions, had been pulled, I was planning on planting legumes. After the success of the aguadulce broad beans last time, I thought I would go for peas. And I only had a few bean seeds left.
‘Can you call at the abono shop for a packet of peas, darling?’
‘Why not?’ (Puzzled)
‘Well, they’re not exactly heavy and they won’t break the bank.’
‘No.’ Sulky annoyed look starting to appear on surly face.
I dropped the subject.
Last week I cleared out all the stampeding lettuces (the cockerel seemed most pleased with them), and planted a mix of rocket and lettuce.
I broached the pea subject again. I timed it carefully. He was paying the annual rates bill at 8.30 at the bank, and handing over 350 euros didn’t make anyone happy so I left it.
Later he went to the village supermarket for essentials so I took a deep breath and mentioned peas.
Repeat previous argument, but rather more forcefully.
Sulks all round now. This was getting serious. Neither side was giving in. We stopped speaking. We refused to be in the same room together.
Another attempt the following day met with the same response.
‘But it’s not as though you don’t like peas, you do like them,’ I said plaintively in a feeble attempt for logic to permeate.
‘I don’t want to go to that shop.’
Now, it can be intimidating, I will be honest. All the old boys congregate outside, and it is a dark old-fashioned Spanish shop. But last year, when I was on Snowy vaccination duty for three months, I went quite a few times. Perfectly nice staff and it’s cheap too.
‘I don’t see why not. You know Loli’s sister who works there and the young lad is nice too.’
‘I’ll have a look when I cycle into town tomorrow,’ he said grudgingly. ‘But I’m not going to that village shop.’
OK so that was a concession. A stupid one mind as the town shop is dearer, but I decided not to point that out.
I didn’t mention the peas, hoping he’d remember his offer.
He cycles to town.
He returns. I empty the shopping. NO PEAS!
I sulked. I answered any comments with a monosyllabic grunt, and read an ebook.
‘Nothing,’ in the tone of voice that means everything.
‘It’s the peas isn’t it?’ He groaned and gave in.
‘I’ll get them tomorrow. Tonight.
‘OK I’ll walk down now.’
Beam, happy smiling roughseas. And after a couple of days they were poking their little green shoots through. Unlike the eight beans which were doing nothing. Just as well he bought the peas eh?
From peas and beans to pinto beans
A few people mentioned the pinto bean red casserole and thehistorytourist asked for the recipe. So, after a fashion here it is. As pinto beans are similar to red and black beans, I based it loosely on a chilli red bean recipe.
Pinto beans, soaked the night before and cooked for 30–40 mins, depending on your pressure cooker. I prefer dried beans because a) they are cheaper b) they taste better than tinned or jarred and c) I’m not creating as much waste by buying jars/tins. For two people, around 4–6 ozs of dried beans.
One onion, red or white
Garlic, as much as you choose
Red chillies, if they are picante you may only need one, or maybe one hot one, and a less hot one
Red pepper, say, one large one
Tomatoes, two or three large ones, I used pera (plum) toms, peel them and give El (the cockerel) the skins – and the seeds out of the red peppers
A couple of potatoes, old ones, diced, but not too small
I had some mushrooms to use up so in they went too, washed and quartered (trimmed stalks for El)
Herbs of choice, seasoning if you like it
Pour a decent helping of olive oil in pan, add all ingredients except beans, set on low heat, and cover. The juice from the tomatoes and onions will create liquid, so your veg shouldn’t stick. The aim is NOT to sauté the veg, but to soften them gently.
Check from time to time, add a drop of water if necessary, not a lot as your main liquid is going to be the pinto bean cooking water, which you add with the beans when the veg are ready.
We usually let it sit for a while for the flavours to blend together and then gently reheat.
Easy. I went for the red veg because pinto beans turn water red when they are cooking, so might as well make a red meal out of it, plus the flavours are complementary.
If you need to add meat (anotherday2paradise mentioned adding chicken) I’d suggest red meat, eg stewing steak but that would increase your cooking time. Chorizo or sausage would be easier and sausage and beans are a good mix. Similarly if you want to add stock, I’d use a veg one, but I prefer it without so the flavour of the beans and the veg stands out.
Original recipe: me
And as I had a few courgette kicking around, here is another recipe, which we ate pretty much most days.
Marinated dill courgettes with curly red onion and pickled cucumber
Which really means courgettes with a mustard vinaigrette, red onion and gherkins.
However, it is good if you have a sharp bite, a bit like the roughseas, and not a sweet tooth.
Ingredients: simple if you adapt
Method: easy peasy
Time: half an hour for prep, one and a half for marinading and for chill time, total, two hours
Courgettes, the smaller the better
Salt and pepper
Whereupon I now differ from the original recipe as my store cupboard ain’t quite so fancy
White wine vinegar, plus dried dill, unless you have dill vinegar
Olive oil (EVOO) in preference to sunflower – I live in the world centre of olive oil production, why would I buy anything else? And I like it.
Dijon mustard, fresh chives, and garlic, because who on earth has whole grain garlic and chive mustard? Not me. It probably has sugar in it anyway.
Lots of gherkins. Which as far as I can see are pretty close to pickled dill cucumbers.
Slice courgettes lengthwise thinly, discarding the first slice. Naturally I didn’t do that, but peeled two opposing sides and chucked the skins in our discarded veg pot for darling El.
Then chop them to approx 1.5 ins wide and steam for five mins or less.
Meanwhile make dressing.
Chop gherkins. I used four.
Grind salt and pepper in pestle and mortar and add garlic.
Collect chives from garden, wash and snip.
Mix all this together with some mustard, olive oil, wine vinegar, and a dash of dried dill.
By now the courgette are more than ready so add them to the marinade.
Leave for 30 mins at room temp.
Chill in fridge for 30 mins.
Slice red onion following the curly wurlies, and add to marinade mix, chill for another 30 mins or until ready to serve.
Garnish with parsley, and more gherkin and red onion if you want. I think parsley is sufficient.
If you like pickle (I do), it’s great. If you don’t, forget it. I suppose if you wanted to sweeten it you could add some decent honey to the marinade. Not my choice but it would work.
Original recipe: Roselyne Masselin, Cuisine Imaginaire.
And after all that veg, here is Snowy’s favourite plant to eat: