Food, Cooking and Recipes · Southern Living

Southern Cookin’ the Way My Grandmothers Did It

Skim the Scum. Therein lies the bitter.

Skim the scum off peas when you cook them. That is one strange tip I have retained from my grandmothers. They never told me to skim the scum but both did it religiously.
It didn’t matter if it was purple hull peas or tea, they skimmed the foam off the top anytime it formed.
Back then, I assumed it was just gross looking, but now I figure maybe it was bitter things coming to the surface. To this day I skim the bubbles off the top of my tea as if handed a golden scroll declaring it a law.
I saw an episode of ‘Chef and the Farmer’ and an older black lady was skimming foam from peas or beans. When Vivian asked why she did that the lady replied, “I don’t rightly know. It is something my Mama and Grandmamma done, now I do it.” I’m sure that wasn’t exact, word-for-word, but dang close. I do remember her saying she was never told why, she just repeated what she had seen. Just like myself.
Trust me, I have skimmed oodles and oodles of purple hull pea foam in my day. I wish I was skimming some now! Boy, I miss having unlimited access to such a huge garden.
Oh, the days of field corn “milk” spattering me in the face and coating my arms, as I cut it off into a wash tub with a knife, are long gone.
Days/evenings shelling purple hulls were long and hot. Our fingers turned an alien-colored shade of purple. They kind of went with our green feet, stained from mowing barefoot.
I do love vegetables but if there ever was an arch enemy to be had in the vegetable world–butter beans. Oh, I do hate those lil’ boogers. It requires more effort to get the bean out. Most times you’d end up with different-sized beans in the same shell. Have to strip both ends of the hull to get it to pop open. The shell is sharp-edged and gets stuck under my nail at times. Aaargghh, I do hate a butter bean!

One of the best things you can do with black-eyed peas!

Hoppin' John Recipe Card
Hoppin’ John


2 thoughts on “Southern Cookin’ the Way My Grandmothers Did It

  1. Thanks! I’m going to stop talking so much about food…eventually : )
    It’s that time of year though, fried green tomatoes, fried squash, fried okra…uh oh, sensing a theme with all the fried.


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