They Call Them Southern Peas, Cowpeas and Black-Eyed Peas

He walked into the kitchen and looked at me out of the side of his eye. "Ew!"

He glanced down into the bag and looked back at me again through the kitchen doorway to me sitting at the table with the kids and lowered his voice to barely audible. "Ummm...GROSS. What is this?? Do you need me to throw it away?"

(Note: I most definitely did not marry Mr. Optimism.)

"Um, no. They're dried beans, I just need to hull them!"

To be fair, they are dried out old beans. And we're not used to seeing them, we buy beans in cans or in bags, already hulled and picked through to look perfect. But when we went to market that morning, I just couldn't resist. The weather was unseasonably chilly and it felt like fall and the girl was talking about these "Southern Peas" and the amazing soup that was made with them the night before that involved smoky bacon and veggies and deliciousness.

Except one thing: I didn't actually know what they were yet. She said the were Southern Peas, which meant nothing to me beyond the fact that they were clearly some sort of bean. A quick Google search showed me that they have a bunch of names and different varieties, but they're a kind of bean grown most historically in the south, and sometimes also called Cowpeas or Black-Eyed Peas. This helped because it meant that I could search for Black-Eyed Pea recipes.

So I bought them and hulled them and they've been sitting in a jar since September.

But earlier this week I looked around the kitchen to make sure I was making good use of what we have on hand and remembered the beans sitting in the jar and decided to cook them in the slow cooker.   If you think of it ahead of time, you can soak them overnight to shorten their cooking time on the stove top, but it was just as easy for me to throw all of this in the crock pot and have them cook there. When we were ready for dinner, I made a pot of farro and called it good. It was plain, but everyone was happy. It would be delicious with some cheese in there and some cooked greens, too, but I needed to go grocery shopping. In the summer it would be great cold with the beans and farro (or rice or any other grain) tossed with a vinaigrette and some tomato and onion and cucumber and peppers and feta. There's lots of room to play and they also freeze well once cooked, so they're a great thing to have around for last-minute dinners.

Slow Cooker Souther Peas / Cowpeas / Black-Eyed Peas

2 cups dried black-eyed peas

1 ham hock

3 smashed cloves of garlic

1 onion quartered

1 large carrot quartered

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 cups of water

Throw everything in and cook on low 6-8 hours. 

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