Sunday, October 11, 2009

Goes together like Peas + Carrots

I always remembered that line in Forrest Gump.  It stuck in my head without a place to use it from 1994 until recently.  Now I use it when referring to my boyfriend Jason and me (cause we do go together awfully well).  And that, naturally, led me to me to name a blog in honor of us and our corresponding love of food. 

It's named this, too, not just because of the quote, but because of Good Housekeeping magazines from the 1950s.  Leaf thru just one issue and you will see what I mean.  Pages of recipes so hideously inedible looking that it's downright good entertainment and impossible not to be utterly fascinating.  Jellied ham and tuna molds, Vienna sausages in blankets and, of course, the ubiquitous frozen pea and carrot side dishes looking gray and dejected playing the support role to equally blanched-pale haunches of meat. All decorated with garish pimento pinwheels or radish rosettes... which is like putting makeup on a pig and just as perplexing.
It would seem the reason for the all this had something to do with World War II ending. Suddenly rationing was over so meat, eggs and dairy abounded.  A flurry of technological advances had also brought frozen convenience goods into the everyday life.  So here's the 1950's housewife, hypnotized by the bright electric hum of the freezer aisles and glossy rows of packaged butt roasts sunning themselves under the florescents in the newly born Supermarket.  After years of shelling beans and eating boiled potatoes this will apparently make you go wild with food lust and begin constructing hideously mad dishes like Spam 'n' Limas. 

From this....
To this....?

While I'm glad we've since removed the deviled eggs from our eyes as far as food sense, I do sometimes oddly long for the nostalgia of a time I didn't live in.  A time when I could deliver a tower of meat and vegetables encased in gelatin to a dinner table with a straight face.  A proud face, even.  And while I suppress the urge to make some of these unsavory dishes, I am left with the desire to "improve" upon some of the original favorites out of an odd respect to keep them alive.  Dishes that might seem silly now, but were born out of a certain kind of hopeful nation on the other side of WWII.  After all, it was what people ate as they returned from war to the dinner tables, and they were the first meals of the most influential generation of our time: the Baby Boomers.

So why not have peas and carrots?  After, they really do go together so nicely... this version joins the 21st century with the addition of fresh mint, garam masala and orange zest.  By the way, if you don't have a microplane grater, I highly recommend investing in one.  They're not only practical and inexpensive, they're actually rather fun and I find myself creating excuses to "zest" things all the time... which leads to a refrigerator full of bald, slightly embarrassed-looking citrus fruit but some very tasty food.  Go buy now!

Recipe: Peas ♥ Carrots

What to get

8 ounces of fresh or frozen peas (if frozen, keep them this way until they hit the pan)
4 medium-sized diced carrots
1 julienne cut shallot
Small handful of fresh mint leaves - chiffonade
2 diced strips of bacon
Zest of half an orange
A few dashes of garam masala
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

What to do with it all

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat for a few seconds before adding the diced bacon (I actually like to use kitchen shears for this and cut directly over the pan).  Fry bacon until crisp and then remove.  Add carrots to the bacon drippings and sauté for 7 minutes then reduce to low and add shallots with a sprinkling of salt.  Salt removes moisture from vegetables so it's good here because you want to soften the shallots, not sauté them which would add some bitterness in this case.  After about 5 minutes the shallots will be translucent and carrots will have given up some tasty juices.  Turn the heat back to medium and add the rest of the ingredients and return the bacon. Sauté until the peas are cooked but not soggy (about 5 mins). 

Fresh mint - Fresh tarragon or dry dill.  Dry mint is a no-no as it doesn't retain a fresh taste very well.
Shallot - 1/2 yellow or sweet onion
Bacon - Butter & shaved Parmesan or coconut oil & soy parm (vegans)
Orange zest - a splash of orange juice
Garam masala - ground allspice and cinnamon

Makes 1 to 4 servings depending on your appetite...for me this is one serving...

Carrots and Peas on Foodista


  1. I wanna guess you're the peas and j is the carrots. Can I be the bacon?

  2. Great writing Matthea - I'm glad you finally took the plunge. Have fun!!

  3. Thanks, Heidi! I hope you have fun reading it, too! And yes, Mobius, you can be Bacon. I will get to work on the clay sculpting now...

  4. mmmm will need to try these peas+carrots(+ bacon = :P ) at home. look forward to more recipes and quirky thoughts (i mean that in a good way) spewing from mathea's brain!

  5. I made this last night as the side for our dinner. Such a warm dish, especially with the spices (I used cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, didn't have garam masala) - perfect for the raw, damp weather we've been having in NYC. I have a microplane grater - never knew it could zest so well!

    I'll be looking for your next recipe and more of your food-related posts...keep writing!

  6. Wow...saw this on PhotoGrazing...this takes peas and carrots to a whole new, amazing level! Can't wait to try it! Thanks for the recipe :)

  7. Thanks, Tiffiny! I'm very addicted to PhotoGrazing, isn't it fantastic? I hope you like the recipe - let me know what you think after you've made it!

  8. Your photo's are gorgeous, thanks for the compliment on my What's Cookin' Italian Style site and for stopping by...appreciate your kind comments...

  9. Turso LesMannNovember 07, 2009

    Being a single guy I do not often cook for myself. But this looked simple and delicious so I made this tonight as a side to a small New York strip steak on a charcoal grill.

    I am clueless as to which foods compliment each other but, I must say it was excellent. I am a fan of bacon(who isn't?) so it was a struggle for me to not add way more than called for. I used 3 strips. :)

    I will definitely make this again for 3 reasons... 1. It is on the more simple side of things 2. It is delicious! 3. What else would I use garam masala for? I didn't even know what it is until I read this.

    Keep it up!

  10. Pagasuslegend - The comments were well deserved, I'll be back for more at your site!

    Turso - I'm so glad you made the dish! Yes, it's hard to ration bacon usage. I also have a hard time not using it in everything, as it covers a multitude of culinary sins!

  11. Dear Mathea,

    I identify with this post on several levels and enjoyed how you brought the past to the present.

    Lee Ann


Thanks for commenting - I'm always happy to hear from you!


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