Peas Porridge Prepper Provision Posting

I like watching Jos Townsend cook in the style of the 1700s. Many reasons. Partly I’m a minimalist at heart and a lot of what they did then was with minimal equipment and methods. Partly it is that they had no refrigerators and grocery stores with endless isles of preserved food, so you had to preserve your own. Partly is is just historical nostalgia and I like history.

Then, every so often, some of it ‘clicks’ for the Prepper Community. As a lot of what they did, then, is what you would need to do now, as a Prepper. Storing and preserving food. Cooking with it. Using pots, pans, and tools geared to an open wood fire. Making an oven out of clay.

In this case, his video caught me due to the “poem” “Peas Porridge Hot, Peas Porridge Cold…” and I’ve always wondered what “Peas Porridge” was.

Turns out it is a very easy to make dish that is rather nice in the bowl, but uses minimal ingredients and methods. Yes, I made a version of it this morning and ate a bowl of it. Tasty enough and quite filling. I don’t care for mint, though, so left that out.

Here’s the video on how to make it (7 minutes):

He points out that the old recipe does not say what kind of peas to use. I take that as an open invitation to “try stuff” ;-) They chose to use split peas, which is likely traditional and easy to get at the grocery store. BUT, as a prepper dish, that’s right out. Why? Because I tried storing split peas once. At about the one year point they “get hard” and by 2 years even cooking for hours does not soften them enough. (Forget about any storage longer than that… and yes, I tried the baking soda thing. It “helps but does not fix” hard peas.)

Lentils will keep for up to 16 years, that I know of from personal experience and still cook OK. Split mung beans too. In my “cleaning out to prepare for packing up” I’d seen about 4 oz of lentils in a jar and about 6 ounces of yellow peeled split mung beans (Monggo) that needed using up. I know each are several years old as they were stored a while before being put in canister jars and that was a year or two ago. Might as well experiment with them, eh?

The basic recipe is (by volume):

1 Unit “peas”
1 Unit water
1 Unit milk
butter about 2 Tbs or 30 ml / quart or liter of peas
Roll the butter ball in flour to coat it well
Salt & Pepper to taste.
A mint bundle addition if you like mint.

The basic process is to put the peas in the water with the (optional IMHO) mint, bring to a boil, let simmer “a while” until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, add the floured butter ball, the milk, salt and pepper, stir. Return to the fire for about 15 minutes to bring back to the simmer / boil stage. Remove and let sit, or stir, or just eat it.

What I did was mix my legumes and got 350 ml (yes, I’m going to freely mix metric and traditional units… just be glad I’m not using grains and gills) so started with 350 ml of water.

The split mung beans soak up water FAST and I ended up adding about another 150 ml in the first couple of minutes (the Townsend video stresses that the water and milk can vary…). It was maybe 5 minutes to the absorbed stage. Not expecting this, I had not timed it.

I set it off the heat,rolled about a 1 Tbs slice of a stick of butter in flour and added that to the pot. Took a 12 oz can of Condensed Milk (also about 2 years old) and reconstituted it to 24 ounces, then added about 350 ml (just poured it in, didn’t measure) of milk to cover and have a wet sauce look. Back to the stove, on medium heat with stirring until it was at the simmer, then on low, covered, for about 20 miniutes.

I just “sprinkled over” with salt to what I thought would be right, but adding some in the bowl tasted better. I think I remember that salt in the cook water keeps beans hard, so for hard peas I’d hold that off to the last steps. Pepper was about 3 grinds, but another in the bowl was very nice ;-)

I got to talking and not stirring, so after about 20 minutes (maybe longer) remembered the pot. There was a thin layer on the very bottom that was starting to brown and stick, so I got it just in time.

Spooned into a bowl, it was quite tasty. Don’t know quite how to explain it. It has a bit of “cooked milk” flavor and aroma, but not enough to stand out. It has a “kind of meaty” flavor that I think is from the butter and milk. It is very much a “meal on a spoon” effect (not a desert or soup thing) and the texture is kind of like split pea soup from a condensed soup can, but with a more interesting flavor. Part of that is likely the mung beans and lentils having a nuttier flavor effect.

I expect I could add a bit more water for more of a porridge effect, or a lot more for a soup. The video also says final water may need adjusting.

As a Prepper Meal, this has it all. Only 2 stored food ingredients, some “peas” and canned milk, and then 2 spices + water. All of it keeps for years. Prep is fast (especially with fast cooking split mung beans or lentils) and the product is tasty. Then “Nine Days Old” implies it stores well after cooking ;-)

I could easily see adding SPAM chunks, ham if you have it, or bacon bits to this. It is also a mild enough flavor for folks who don’t want spice, but would take well as a neutral base to a LOT of other flavors and spices for “change ups” and variety.

As evidenced in the video (and in my cook of it), exact tools, measurements, techniques, and ingredients do not matter. It is simple and forgiving enough for just about anyone to make.

You can also make it spiced up (Nigerian or N’Orleans style) with hot peppers, crayfish, and more. The first minute the sound is too low, but picks up suddenly at the 1 minute mark. 4 1/2 minutes:

As crayfish could be found in the mud of just about any irrigation canal when I was growing up (they are drained in winter here), I have a fascination with them as “survival food” (they are also very tasty steamed and dunked in sauce ;-) Never thought of drying them before, but hey, makes sense.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in cooking, Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Peas Porridge Prepper Provision Posting

  1. The True Nolan says:

    @EM: “They chose to use split peas, which is likely traditional and easy to get at the grocery store.”

    My Wife, the source of all historical knowledge, (and a couple of decades as a 11th through 19th century reenactor), says that “Split pea is the traditional pea. Why? Because peas dry better when they have been split and are less likely to develop mold. Whole peas are more likely to be used fresh and make a good porridge with a cream sauce (aka “peas and gravy”). Hippocrates says that peas are less windy than beans but should still be eaten with prudence.” She then went on for several barely intelligible paragraphs on the origins of the word “porridge” (from “pottage”) and claimed that the word “pease” was the singular form and “peasen” was the plural.

    Did you ever drink from a firehose? That’s like asking my wife a question. Man… I just LOVE that in her! :)

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, “pea” is a back formation singular from the misunderstanding of peas as plural when it was actually the singular. -en is the traditional plural ending from when Old English was closer to Old German…

    Per Peas Soup:

    I made another experiment. As this cooled it set up very much like the stuff in a condensed split pea can. I made about 1/2 cup of “chicken broth” via the expedient of about 1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) of Knorr Bullion Powder in warm water, stirred in lumps of it (about 3/4 cup?) mixing as I went until I had a very passable Pea Soup. Interesting…

    I’m liking this stuff more ever dish of it ;-)

  3. Paul, Somerset says:

    Lentils, Spam and windfall apples is one of my favourite dishes, prepper or otherwise.
    Len Deighton’s Action Cookbook, a marvellous little book from the Sixties by the author of the spy thrillers, is adamant that you have to include fat somewhere when preparing pulses. He suggests ham or bacon or a piece of salt pork or fresh pork skin or a pork knuckle, but Spam works fine from a prepper point of view.
    To be pedantic, he also pints out that cooked to a mash dried peas become pease pudding, while lentils become dhall.
    There’s a village on the London-Brighton road in Sussex, England, called Pease Pottage. The story goes that the village got its name from the dish served to prisoners who stopped there while being transported to gaol.

  4. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – That second video was pure gold!.

    My Texas side is all about blackeyed peas. I was raised on them whereas no-one in my neighborhood had a clue about them except that they were “colored folks’ food” and in the ’50s, not always said so delicately.

    We didn’t care. That was a Texas ‘Mom’s” thing and after a few servings of blackeyed peas, a kid learned to like them.

    Anyhow, that recipe is AWESOME! All we ever got was blackeyed peas with a bit of fatback pork and onion for seasoning. But that’s good too.

  5. H.R. says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention… mom always had me plant some blackeyed peas in our garden. I have no clue where she got the seed from. No one, I mean no one else in our 50-county area in the Midwest was growing blackeyed peas.

    Okay, maybe some black families that wound up in our area from the South, but that was about it. My contemporaries were just “Huh??? Blackeyed peas??? Isn’t that (non-PC word at the time) food?”

    Oddly… or maybe not… my siblings and I felt just a little bit superior for being “in on” some exotic food like that.

    Avocados and smoked eel, too. The ’50s Wonder Bread and bland bologna crowd just didn’t understand. when I pulled those out of my Roy Rogers lunch box. 不不不不不不

    Even if I had wanted to trade – and I didn’t want to trade – for a PB&J sandwich, I doubt if I would have had any takers.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Blackeye Peas were something eaten by everyone in The South. I was introduced to them by a Very White Southerner… My Uncle Ken (of the “worked in the prison system in Texas” type) had Black Eyed Peas growing in his garden and he was as White As They come.

    Anyone tells you Black Eye Peas are not for anyone but Blacks has NOT lived in Texas!

    FWIW, my Dad, from Iowa, knew about Black Eyed Peas and our Oklahoma Cook in our restaurant did too (and she was Very White).

    It is really southern vs northern, not white vs black.

    FWIW, the best seeds for “field peas” were bought in Texas with Uncle Ken at the local seed store run by a Very White Guy. I still have a foil pouch of them in my Seed Freezer.

    Such peas are well suited to hot dry areas and not cold wet ones. That’s WHY I have them in my seed vault. I have various seeds suited to cold, hot, wet, dry, and more. Why? Because you don’t know what M. Nature will throw at you… and that is why such peas are commonly grown in The South where they are well suited to local growing conditions… no matter who is growing them or how much melanin is in their skin.

    FWIW My BIGOTED BIAS: In my experience, Black cooks do things with seasonings and flavors that make me feel stupid and ashamed. I’m a Damn Fine Cook (of the short order kind) and I can’t come close to what is done with the crap cuts of meat by a real True South Black BBQ Guy. There was a BBQ place in Santa Clara that I’d regularly visit for lunch. OMG it was good. He got written up in local papers, it became impossible to get a sandwich at lunch… and he relocated to the local Fru-Fru Saratoga Upscale Location for the rich and well connected. I have no idea what happened after that. All I can share is that the last time I talked to him, he shared that he stayed up for 24 hour straight tending the smoker / BBQ to get his brisket right… God I miss his place… So if you really want GOOD BBQ, find a Black Chef.

    Another sidebar on Black Chefs:

    Once upon a time, I worked at Sacramento Medical Center. It was between the local “Black Ghetto” and the Government Employee Mecca… About once a week, the call would go out: “We are going to do a run to the BBQ place. Anyone who wants something, place your order now.”

    After a few months, I asked about it. There was a BBQ place about 2 miles south, in the Black Ghetto, and where it was “risky for white people to go” (so they said). BUT, the BBQ was OMG to die for. So every so often, they would round up a dozen+ orders, and load up a car with at least 3 people, to drive in and place the order. One stayed in the car (so it would not be stolen) and at least 2 went in to place the order (the more-than-one to stand guard for the one…). Then they would bring it all back and distribute it. I did the run a couple of times (stupid or just liked everyone I met? Who knows…) and oh how I loved the BBQ. The “Guy Behind The Counter” once again sharing that he stayed up all night to assure the Q was as it ought to be. Nice guy too. Bit of an ego, but By God he deserved it for the goods he made.

    FWIW, to this day, I’ve never EVER NEVER had BBQ better than those two Black Guys made.

    I just wish I had clue enough to have gotten their names (and begged to be taught how to do it…)

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    Do you have Thermal Cookers in the USA? Haven’t seen any mention.
    Much used by “grey nomads” in Australia when travelling. Heat food in S.S. (or other) interior pot (electric hot plate, gas ring, even camp fire) and when hot place inside insulating exterior pot. Food stays hot for many hours (slow cooks). No electricity needed. Just thought I would ask.

  8. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Yup, Blackeyed peas are a Southern thing, not black or white in the South. As best as I can recall, mom was the only Southerner in our neighborhood. The prejudices of the time leaned towards “anything Southern was generally regarded as ‘black'” unless patently obvious otherwise. And back when, they weren’t using that term.

    My brothers and I were called nasty racist names from time to time in the ’50s and early ’60s when something “Southern” popped out of us., and then times changed. It just kinda died out by the ’70s. Our response was mostly an incredulous look of “how can you be so ignorant?” It generally worked and we very rarely had a fight over those moments; couple of times.

    We had some Kentuckians and a few from West Virginia, but that’s not very far South.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but mom’s Texas dialect was often unintelligible to friends and neighbors, and some words, even to us, her own kids! There were quite a few words we had to figure out from time to time.

    One of my favorites was ‘cark’. (The ‘a’ is long and slow). What the?!? is a cark? It turns out it’s a cork, and it meant the little round plastic bobber you used when fishing. “Oh… I see. Cark, Of course.”

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    The Texas Drawl has softened over the decades… I distinctly remember about 1962 a Texan (with hat!) came into our restaurant and sat at the far North end of the counter ( I was washing cups and glasses at the sink behind the counter) and said… well, something that was entirely unintelligible.

    I thought he was speaking some foreign language (then again, I was all of about 8…) so I asked my parents (who were working too) what language he was speaking and what did he say. They informed me it was a “Texas Drawl”. OK…

    So he kept coming in for a few weeks and I gradually started picking up a few words… then more… and by the time he left town I could get almost all of it. Part of what was still throwing me was the “sayings”. Not these particularly, but as examples: Things like “Frog Strangler” and “like a pole cat et ‘er dog”… With the accent I had trouble parsing them and then the “saying” was non-predictable to a kid’s ear and failed the error correction process…

    One of the most remarkable experiences of my life as a kid. First time I realized how far one language could drift and still be thought of as the same language. Unfortunately, since then the ubiquitous TV has been destroying regional accents all over the place. Not heard a really good Texas Drawl or Southern Accent in a few decades. One so strong you have to rewind and replay to get on board with it…

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No. 3:

    They exist here but are not a common item. Some year or two ago Larry Ledwick & I basically reinvented them with prepper “Thermos cooking” where we tried cooking some stuff by putting it in a thermos jar. I now have a large mouth thermos of about 1 quart capacity in my camping / bug out kit as a result (and a 1 pint wide mouth in my bug out bag).

    IIRC I went searching, then, and found a local Asian Market had the big pot version that’s called a Thermal Cooker.

  11. The True Nolan says:

    @EM: “Things like Frog Strangler”

    Also known in some parts of the South as “a trash mover”.

    (A rain so heavy it would choke a frog — or make the trash outside float away.)

  12. cdquarles says:

    Gully washer anyone? ;p

  13. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – “Frog strangler” is one I still use for a heavy rain.

    “Unfortunately, since then the ubiquitous TV has been destroying regional accents all over the place. Not heard a really good Texas Drawl or Southern Accent in a few decades. One so strong you have to rewind and replay to get on board with it”

    Yup, “TeeVee”. That softened up mom’s speech a bit. I suppose along about the time we started getting more than just 3 networks and PBS is when things began to change.

    At the RV parkin in Tennessee I recommended? The lady who runs the office and takes reservations has the most wonderful pure Tennessee accent***. I love calling in to reserve a spot.

    And then, 350 miles South in Georgia, at our next stay, the TV homogenization has struck. I could be calling into anywhere.

    ***The Southern accents used to be quite distinct. I could tell if a speaker was From Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana(very easy, that one, whoooeee!) and some others. You just don’t hear pure regional sppech much anymore.

  14. Mordineus says:

    on storing spit peas : do you suppose that if they were vacuum sealed with oxygen absorber that the ‘hardening’ would be avoided ?

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, it’s a polymerization process and that usually is accelerated by a catalyst and air (oxygen) tends to make things move faster, so yeah, it would likely slow it. But how much? Who knows. I had mine stored in a sealed glass jar and they still hardened, so you would need to do a nitrogen or CO2 fill or vacuum suck on the jar.

    I do know that if you can them they don’t harden. I do a fair amount of canning and I’ve made my own canned soups.

    So IF I ever store split peas again, it will be that way. Since I almost universally use them in soup, that’s pretty easy.

    Now that I’ve got “into” peas porridge, I could see making that in a jar (without the milk maybe… canned milk is hard to get right without flavor changes…) Basically put in everything but the milk and butter, can it. Then when ready for a meal, put that in a pan with the milk and butter and heat it up. (Why Campbell’s Soups made with milk have you add the milk…)

    The skins of lentils have a LOT of {something – tannins?} in them that react with oxygen and protect the lentil. In a sealed jar they keep for many years and still cook fast. They do slowly darken over the years, but that’s the skin bit, not the meat of it. I’ve settled on them as my major stored legume for “preparedness” purposes. (Both for the extraordinarily long storage life and the fact that they cook fast, so save on fuel a LOT in an AwShit… a 20 minute lentil beats a 3 hour bean by 9 x.)

  16. Paul, Somerset says:

    Very good point about fuel. And even if you do have access to fuel, the fact is, if you have the facilities and opportunity to cook meals, it’s not really TEOTWAWKI.
    I do have some packets of green lentils, plus a packet of powdered eggs in the pantry, but other than that, everything prepwise is stuff you can consume straight from the can or packet if necessary.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    Meals, ready to eat (from Mil pouches or DIY) are the easiest for Prepping. Just open and eat. No fuel nor water needed.

    But they don’t keep as long as some dehydrated stuff and they are more bulky (so not ideal if you need to bug out…)

    I have a mix of both. In an AwShit, we tend to use the hardest to use first, as long as facilities are available. Then back off as any given supply or facility fails.

    I don’t have room to store even 6 months of “ready to eat” stuff. Heck, probably not even 2 months worth. But I can easily store 4 months of “dry and needs prep”. “One Dry Pound per Day” is my mantra on stored foods. It is over a starvation ration and close to a working hard ration. (Just cook one pound of rice and try to eat it in one day…) So 50 pounds of beans and rice is 2 bags about the size of a carry on suitcase. That’s good for 2 months with a little added stuff to flavor it up. Easy to do, really. For “Ready to eat”, the volume blows up quick (but you don’t need running or stored water and fuel…)

    At the start of this present Chinese Wuhan Covid AwShit, I did a stock up / lock down process. (The news was showing folks in China dropping over in the street and people being welded into apartments plus death statistics that were about 20%… so pretty much a Scare Story in retrospect, but you go with the data you have at the time.) For that, I filled a “pantry” (really a cabinet of shelves) with “meals”. A Dak 1 pound canned ham, can of yams, can of beans. A Kraft Mac & Cheese, canned milk, can of tuna, can of peas (big jug of Coconut oil as butter replacer in recipes that ask for it) for tuna-noodle casserole. Betty Crocker Scalloped (or Au Gratin or 3 Cheese) spuds, Tin of SPAM, more canned milk and jug of olive oil as another butter replacer, canned vegetable for “Spuds with ‘ham'” casserole and side vegetable. AND I canned up a bunch of chicken parts for use with “Saffron Rice” packets as “saffron rice with chicken” meals. Again with a canned side vegetable.

    Some of these, like the Ham, Yams & Green Beans can be eaten cold from the can. Others, like the Tuna Noodle Casserole, need cooking (though you can eat the tuna on crackers that I also bought and the peas from the can and skip the mac & cheese box). I also laid in about 1/2 dozen cans of Chef Boyardee Ravioli and a bunch of canned soups (some bought, some I canned up) that were pretty much edible from the can or jar.

    Flexibility… that was the design goal.

    Now I also happen to have had a small wood pile in the back yard next to the BBQ, about 5 gallons of kerosene and a kerosene stove, about 3 gallons of Coleman Fuel and a Coleman stove, about 3 gallons of alcohol and an alcohol stove, and about 100 gallons of water in barrels… So cooking was not going to be a problem… (Also in hand, propane BBQ w/20 lb bottle, propane stove and bottles, butane stove and 8 cans, stove the runs on “tablets” of Hexamine and fuel, stove the runs on wood chips and a few trees, stove the runs on Diesel and a car full of Diesel, Stove that runs on Unleaded gasoline and 3 cars full of gasoline, etc. Did I mention I’m “into” stoves and I’m a prepper? 8-)

    Well, in the nearly 2 years now since then, I’ve been trying to “run down the inventory”. The most gratifying thing? We are STILL working it down. Now we’ve been buying a LOT of fresh stuff all along, so it isn’t like we lived exclusively off the Prep. But still.

    All the home canned chicken is now gone (and worked really well with the saffron rice, also used up now). ALMOST all of the Mac & Cheese is gone. Maybe 4 boxes left? Tuna replaced a few times ;-) Still working down the canned soups and vegetables… Last ham left last week and only one can of yams left. SPAM ran out a month or two ago, and down to my last dozen cans of sardines. About 20 pounds each of Beans, Rice and Flour yet to use up ( I’ve not baked as much bread as expected though did use up about 30 pounds worth, nor have I made as much chili as I’d expected to make). Just gave The Kid about 9 kilos of noodles, a Quaker Oats tub (still have 2 more…) and about 10 pounds of beans… (I did use up the “few boxes” of packets of oatmeal with flavoring in them; 54 to the box…,) And we’re down to ONE big jug of Olive Oil and ONE big jug of Coconut Oil. So making progress there.

    Overall, lessons learned? I would have been Just Fine without the grocery store for about 6 months. It would have been unpleasant for the next 3+ months as that would have been bland Beans & Rice & Bread with oil.

    I’d have been happier with a LOT more canned chicken, saffron packets, canned Tuna, more Crackers, Mayo, and a lot more canned milk. (Both sweetened condensed for tea and such and simple condensed for use AS milk). I still have some Milk Powder, but the canned got used up first and easiest. I’d also add a LOT more canned hams and SPAM. Condiments held out OK, but BBQ Sauce and Noodle Sauces were not sufficient for the noodles I had on hand nor the total beans. (BBQ Sauce on beans is rather nice ;-)

    So yeah, more “ready to eat” is better. IFF you have somewhere to store it.

    More “Dry and keeps” is good IFF you have water and fuel and facilities to cook it, and have some seasoning method to dress it up.

    Per “Opportunity to cook” is not EOTWAWKI: I do not agree. We were without power for several days at a shot some years ago (then did a recall on Gov. Grey “out” Davis) and needed to use some of the Prep for meals. It WAS traumatic living without power for an unknown amount of time and your world DOES change. Similarly post Loma Prieta quake. I’m sure folks post hurricane surrounded by rubble think it is TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) and would love to have a way to heat and eat a can of something or make a dish of chicken and rice (even while living out of their car…)

    ANY big disaster, IMHO, is something that feels like the world is no longer As We Know It. Yet I can cook with some wood fragments from a destroyed building and water I’ve filtered with my emergency filter from a mud puddle.

    Heck, I designed my POB (Pile Of Bricks) BBQ with the idea of using the bricks from my home chimney should it fall down in a Big One Quake:

    Maybe it is because I am at the intersection of “Foodie” and “Prepper”, but it is my belief you can ALWAYS cook! Even in an EOTWAWKI event. Comfort and sustenance both matter.

    BUT, if I had the room, almost all my Prep would be “Ready To Eat” ;-)

    (Oh, and I still have two big boxes of instant mashed potatoes as we were able to keep buying fresh…)

  18. jim2 says:

    I grew up in Texas eating black eyed peas or purple hull peas with (non-sweet) cornbread. Still love it all!

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    I have something of a passion for corn bread. Unfortunately, about 1983? I had a “flu” with a fever spike up to about 105F. I decided to have a “corn chowder” to see if I could keep it down (it was delicious and I did…) and I had some sweet corn growing in the garden that was also giving me some exposure.

    The end result was my immune system decided maybe it was the corn that was the problem. Ever since, even ONE kernel of popcorn just sucked on it and spat out, is enough to cause a reaction. Nothing horrible, just I’ll never need to by ExLax again…

    Thus “Starve a fever feed a cold” has legs, and WHEN you have a high fever, only eat foods you never ever want to eat again :-)

    So I’ve created an alternative using Millet Flour instead of corn. Not quite the same (more “nutty” less “corny”) but satisfies that need. (And it IS a need. Chili without “cornbread”? Just no. Thanksgiving without “cornbread”? Hell no!)

    Black Eye Peas always had a kind of “dirt flavor” to me, but I got some Crowder Peas from my Texas Uncle that are quite tasty. I have the seeds in my seed vault as a good low moisture high heat planting. I know, individual tastes vary. But those were the first “vigna” peas I really liked.

    The cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume from the genus Vigna. Due to its tolerance for sandy soil and low rainfall, it is an important crop in the semiarid regions across Africa and Asia. It requires very few inputs, as the plant’s root nodules are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, making it a valuable crop for resource-poor farmers and well-suited to intercropping with other crops. The whole plant is used as forage for animals, with its use as cattle feed likely responsible for its name.

    Four subspecies of cowpeas are recognised, of which three are cultivated. A high level of morphological diversity is found within the species with large variations in the size, shape, and structure of the plant. Cowpeas can be erect, semierect (trailing), or climbing. The crop is mainly grown for its seeds, which are high in protein, although the leaves and immature seed pods can also be consumed.

    Cowpeas were domesticated in Africa and are one of the oldest crops to be farmed. A second domestication event probably occurred in Asia, before they spread into Europe and the Americas. The seeds are usually cooked and made into stews and curries, or ground into flour or paste.

    Most cowpeas are grown on the African continent, particularly in Nigeria and Niger, which account for 66% of world production. A 1997 estimate suggests that cowpeas are cultivated on 12.5 million hectares (31 million acres) of land, have a worldwide production of 3 million tonnes and are consumed by 200 million people on a daily basis.

    So as I’m in an arid place right now, I stocked up on that particular pea that my Texas Uncle had me try, and I really liked ;-)

  20. jim2 says:

    Turns out “purple hull peas” are also a cow pea.

  21. Paul, Somerset says:

    @ EM – Many thanks for taking the trouble to give such a detailed reply.

    If you lived in England rather than California, you’d be wary of relying on having to cook on outdoor stoves! But I do take your point. Some of those set-ups you describe would work indoors, and as it happens, I do have a wood-burning stove I use for heating, which I occasionally cook on. Though you wouldn’t want to be wasting fuel firing that up other than in winter.

    But yes, I hadn’t really considered the storage-space aspect. My house is tiny, rural and very old, but the original builders made sure they set aside a big pantry space against an 18″-thick north-facing wall. So I’m happy to make use of that with ready-to-consume stuff. But even then, I’ve found myself storing some packets of lentils, powdered whole milk, powdered whole egg, dried onion, and packets of cocoa powder, just in case we find ourselves talking about months rather than weeks. It’s a reflex reaction to how I really don’t understand the motives for what has been happening for the last 18 months. I would find it hard to keep calm and rational and cheerful unless I was prepared for things I can’t anticipate.

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