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Don’t Kick a Gift Horse

A friend called and said, “I’ve got a mess of peas for you.”

I asked, “Are they picked? Are they shelled?”

He answered affirmatively on both questions, so I said, “Good. When are you going to bring them to me?” He told me he would bring them right over.

He did and they were wonderfully green and clean. I asked, “Where’s the meat?”

He didn’t hit me, but was quick to tell me not to kick a gift horse in the mouth. Have you heard that idiom?

It comes from the old days when one might be given a horse as a gift. One should say thanks and not open the horse’s mouth to look at its teeth. As a horse grows older, his teeth become larger and more protruding and, so, to look in the mouth at the horse’s teeth might mean that you were questioning the worth of the gift.

I appreciated those Cream 40 peas and look forward to cooking them. The amount was more than one mess and I told my friend that I was going to cook one portion as just “straight” peas. The other portion I would cook and include with some other vegetables in a soup.

I wrote about watermelons last week and I have really enjoyed that fruit of the vine. This week, I visited a tomato patch in Mitchell County. Actually it was bigger than a patch. It was a field of tomatoes and don’t ask me what is the acreage difference between a patch of tomatoes and a field.

The field was a “pick your own” and the first time I went I didn’t have my five gallon bucket so the man gave me a box that I could fill. Twelve dollars a box or bucket was the price. I thought that was a little pricey until I was filling the box. Lots of tomatoes for $12 dollars.

Big and beautiful, too. You know the first thing I wanted to do with a tomato, right? That’s right, the southern delicacy of a tomato sandwich. It was a juicy and sweet tomato. I would say, the sandwich was a two-napkin sandwich, as in needing two napkins to keep the combination of mayonnaise and tomato juice from running all the way down to my elbow!

I gave most of the box of tomatoes away because I knew I would be going back to the field and, this time, I would have my five gallon bucket.

Let’s see. With a mess of Cream 40 peas and some stewed tomatoes, I’ll have the foundation for my vegetable soup. The same friend who has the peas also has a couple of rows of okra. That ought to “slime” the soup up pretty good. Tomatoes, peas, okra, and cut-off the cob corn. What else is needed? Oh, yeah, the kitchen sink.

I called up my friend and asked him to have the okra cut and I would come over and get it. While talking, I asked him if he happened to have a pound of stew beef.

“Lynn,” he sarcastically asked, “would you like my wife to make the soup for you?

I thought that was a good idea, but decided against kicking the gift horse in the mouth. After all, I may need for him to pick me a bag of those muscadine grapes he has growing on those vines next to his garden. Plus, his fish pond is full of speckled perch in the spring of the year.

We live in a pretty good area of the country, don’t we? I feel sorry for those who live in New York City. Nah, not really!