Indeed, as I was standing over my patch of thyme, it occurred to me that it is about time for many spring chores. First on the list: plant peas.
Mary Elizabeth Randolph put her peas in very early in hopes that her crop would sprout earlier than her cousin Thomas Jefferson’s. Yearly, they raced to see who could put the first dish on the table.
To have them in perfection, they must be quite young, gathered early in the morning, kept in a cool place, and not shelled until they are to be dressed; put salt in the water, and when it boils, put in the peas; boil them quick twenty or thirty minutes, according to their age; just before they are taken up, add a little mint chopped very fine; drain all the water from the peas, put in a bit of butter, and serve them up quite hot.
Randolph was the author of the first true American cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, published in 1824. The receipts (now called recipes) were the first to incorporate American Indian and African American techniques, foods and recipes in cookbook form. Randolph ran a boarding house in Richmond, VA and people so enjoyed sitting at table with her. Another first for Randolph was her burial in what is now called Arlington National Cemetery, formally the estate of her cousin, Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis.
Today you can download her book to your Kindle or other electronic device. Thanks to Project Gutenberg.