Tag Archives: peas

The South, in Bowl Form

Last week I started itching to try another recipe from Hugh Acheson’s cookbook that I picked up while at his restaurant, 5and10, in Athens.  I also had not cooked anything in a few days and felt like I needed a little guidance in the kitchen.  I spent my lunch break first eating a ham sandwich and flipping through A New Turn in the South, then at the grocery store purchasing the very few things I needed to make Hugh’s Field Pea, Ham Hock & Mustard Green Soup.  I prefer to call it The South in a Bowl, because it basically has everything Southern and delicious in it.

South in a Bowl | Oysters & Pearls

As you can probably tell, I made some adjustments.  I’m no James Beard winner, but I actually think my adjustments might be even tastier than the original recipe.  But I might just be slightly biased towards zipper peas.

South in a Bowl (adapted from Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South)


– 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
– 1/2 a medium Vidalia onion
– 2 to 3 carrots, diced
– 1 celery stalk, minced
– 3 garlic cloves, peeled
– one quart bag of frozen zipper peas*
– 32 ounces low sodium chicken stock
– 1 smoked ham hock
– 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
– one pint bag frozen turnip greens
– 1 fresh medium sized tomato, chopped
– one teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or pepper sauce
– extra virgin olive oil

– cornbread to serve on the side

Zipper Peas | Oysters & Pearls

*A note on peas: You may have seen my Instagram picture when Wheat and I put up peas not long ago.  My sweet daddy gave us a bushel of zipper peas, which were grown by his good friend just outside of Blountstown, Florida.  They are some of the prettiest peas I’ve seen!  Anyway, if you want to spend some time puttin’ up peas your own self, here’s what I do to blanch and freeze them: dump your peas into a sink and fill it up with water. Swish your hands around in the water, and pick out any stems, leaves, and less-than-desirable-looking peas.  Drain the water and repeat until the water stays clear.  While all the swishing and picking is going on, get a Hugh Jass pot of water boiling, as well as a big bowl of ice water.  Once the peas are clean and the water is boiling, dump them in batches into the pot of boiling water.  Leave them in the boiling water for two minutes, then take them out using a mesh strainer or something similar and dunk them in the ice water bath.  This stops the cooking process, and blanching them is essential before you freeze them.  then I strain them back out and put them in ziploc bags and freeze them (without water in the bags).


I started out by dicing my mirepoix (basically, the carrots/celery/onion base of almost all soups) on the heart pine cutting board my daddy made out of a board from my parents’ < 100 year old house.  Please ignore (or giggle at) the typo – the company who made his wood burning “branding iron” misspelled his name multiple times, so he finally just gave up.  Such is life.

Cutting Board made with Love | Oysters & Pearls

Place a 4- to 6-quart soup pot over medium heat and add the butter.  When it’s melted, add the mirepoix and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic, thawed zipper peas, chicken stock, and ham hock.  Cook until the peas are tender, about an hour (I turned it down to low and cooked it for two).  While the soup is cooking, make your cornbread (scroll down for recipe).  Mr. Acheson calls for cornbread croutons, and asks you to cut your cornbread up into one-inch chunks and toast them in a cast iron skillet in bacon grease.  I skipped this and served the wedge you see above.  The wedge ended up crumbled into the soup and enthusiastically dredged through it, too.

Remove the ham hock from the soup pot and take the meat off the bones.  Coarsely chop the meat and return it to the pot.  Discard the bones and any connective tissue.

Add the thyme, thawed turnip greens, tomato, and salt to the soup.  Cook for 10 or 15 more minutes (or leave on low until everyone is ready to eat).  Portion into bowls for serving, and drizzle each bowl with a splash of cider vinegar or pepper sauce and a dash of olive oil and garnish with a slice of cornbread.  I realize that the vinegar and olive oil sound totally unnecessary, but they are the cherries on top of this sundae.  Please don’t leave them out!  It made it SO much better (the pepper sauce especially!).

Now about that cornbread…

Rather than making the cornbread I always make, I decided to try out Hugh Acheson’s.  It was really good, but Wheat returned a “stick to your own recipe” verdict.  I’m sharing here anyway, because it was still really, really tasty.  It just was a little dryer and denser, with a finer crumb than mine (aka Lala’s).

Cornbread Batter  Oysters & Pearls

I loved the quote from Hugh at the top of his cornbread recipe: “Cornbread should not have sugar in it.  That’s cake.”

Although I will be the first one to admit that I love a good cornbread muffin.

One reason I probably liked his recipe is most likely the essential ingredient: bacon grease!  We save this liquid gold in a jar in the fridge every time we cook bacon.  We don’t use it very often, but it sure comes in handy sometimes.

Cooking with Bacon Grease | Oysters & Pearls

Cornbread (from Hugh Acheson’s A New Turn in the South)


– 2 cups white cornmeal
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– 3/4 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cup buttermilk
– 1 large egg
– 1/4 cup bacon grease


Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (milks and egg).  Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir well to combine.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the bacon grease.  When the fat is hot (but not smoking), add it to the batter and stir.  Pour the batter back into the skillet and place in the over for 20 minutes.

Let the cornbread cool in the skillet for 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn it out onto a cutting board and cut into wedges for serving.

5and10 Cornbread | Oysters & Pearls

And that’s all folks!  This turned out to be one of my favorite meals in a while (I say that a lot though, I guess).  It really was SO good though.  I could make this every couple of weeks and be perfectly content.  Plus, despite the small amount of pure bacon grease goodness, all that color means it’s pretty good for you, too.

The South in a Bowl | Oysters & Pearls

Put some South in your mouth, y’all!


Pasta Carbonara

I love pasta/spaghetti carbonara.  I haven’t had it since my honeymoon almost a year ago.  And this week, I got a hankering.  Due to the lack of authentic any Italian restaurants in Bainbridge, I had to make it myself.  It was my first time trying it, and it turned out well.  My mom was in town running some errands, so she joined us for dinner.  It got thumbs up all the way around the table!  It wasn’t the easiest weeknight meal I’ve ever made (see yesterday’s post or here for a couple really easy ideas), but it definitely wasn’t the most difficult either.  Plus, it made Wednesday feel so special.  This is a great recipe for a crowd, as it really is a one dish meal!  But I had to add some extra veggies, so I also made a simple marinated salad.  That recipe is below, as well.

pasta carbonara

Ingredients for Pasta Carbonara

– enough fettuccine (or your favorite noodle) to feed your crowd

– 1 bag of frozen sweet peas

– 1 pack of prosciutto (or a few slices of good bacon, or the original recipe called for guanciale… basically just make    sure it’s pork)

– 1 T olive oil for frying prosciutto (omit this if using bacon – you’ll have plenty of grease without it)

– one cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

– 3 whole eggs

– 3 egg yolks

– 2 or 3 T freshly ground black pepper, but use more or less to suit your tastes


Start your water boiling, which on my stove takes FOREVER… and while that’s getting warmed up, put a tiny bit of oil in a skillet and lightly fry your prosciutto until it’s nice and crispy (on medium heat).  Place it on paper towel and set aside.  Then, without draining, cook your peas in the grease until they are cooked through.  I just turned it down to low heat and kept stirring the peas occasionally while I finished the rest of the dish.  Cook pasta according to package directions in well salted water.   Grate your parmesan cheese.  Or ask your sweetheart to do it. ;)  Whisk eggs and yolks together with black pepper, then whisk in a cup of parmesan cheese.  I then put the yolk/cheese sauce, the peas, and the crumbled prosciutto (reserving one piece for garnish) into the bottom of the serving bowl.  After cooking and draining, place the hot noodles on top and toss to coat.  Top with the remaining cheese and crumbled piece of prosciutto and serve immediately.


Our lettuce had taken a turn for the worse, so I improvised and made a marinated salad.

Marinated Summer Salad

– 2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

– 1 vidalia onion, sliced thinly (a red onion would also be good, and pretty too)

– 1 tomato, sliced thinly

– white vinegar to cover

– Everglades seasoning

– freshly ground black pepper

Layer cucumbers, then onions, then tomatoes (you can make it prettier than I did, I’m quite sure).  Top with Everglades seasoning and pepper, then enough vinegar to almost completely cover everything (mainly just the cukes and onions).  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I did this salad first and let it marinate the entire time I cooked the pasta (for 2 hours or so).  The leftovers can be refrigerated and will make nice refrigerator pickles for the next few days.


It was a beautiful evening, so Wheat suggested we try out our new citronella candles and dine al fresco.  So we did, and it was perfect.  It was a wonderful Wednesday evening!  So glad my Mama could join us.

DSCN2754 DSCN2758


And with that, happy Friday everyone!  We are anticipating going to the Due South events tonight in Thomasville, which namely includes a concert by the Steel Canyon Rangers and Shannon Whitworth.  Check it out on Facebook too – there will be a Maker’s Market and Popup Shop, and while you have to purchase tickets for tonight, tomorrow’s events and live music are free!  What are you up to this weekend?  Whatever it is, I hope it’s great!