The book is subtitle "An Appalachian journey, with recipes," and that's pretty accurate. There are a lot of stories about the area and the people, and there are also a bunch of recipes.
Truthfully, I was more curious about the recipes. I had no idea whether Appalachian recipes would be familiar or not.
Turns out, they were mostly familiar, but some had a twist. The fried chicken was pretty similar to other recipes I'd made. Salmon cakes were pretty familiar, but I'd never made them with dill pickle in them. I might give that a try because it sounds good to me. The pickled bologna with peppers was just sort of strange.
The pork and kraut with cider gravy sounds like something my mom would have made, except that she made her pork steaks completely differently. I'm going to try the one in the book because it sounds pretty darned good.
Then I saw the recipe for a salad made with peas that had a cream dressing. Actual cream. Thickened with a little cider vinegar. That really fascinated me. I knew I had to try it. Originally, this was a spring/summer sort of dish because it used fresh peas, so the green onions and radishes that went with it made sense.
But the author said it's been adapted so frozen peas work, too. Which is great because I love frozen peas and I'm not overly fond of shelling peas, even when they are in season.
The one little problem I had with the recipe was the radishes. They're not particularly available right now in grocery stores. Or at least the ones I shopped at.
I decided I still wanted to make the recipe, even though radishes were rate. I wanted something with a little crunch, so I used some baby zucchini. It didn't add the bright pop of color, but it still looked nice.
And then I went to the winter farmer's market - a last chance for the local farmers to sell their squash and potatoes and canned good - and I found one booth that had radishes. So I added those to the salad as well, the day after I made the original.
I have to say that the radishes really were pretty, and the bit of sharpness they added was nice. The zucchini was good, but the radishes are definitely better.
English Pea Sans with Cream Dressing
Adapted from Victuals by Ronni Lundy
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon honey
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup thinly sliced small radishes (I used one very small zucchini)
1/4 cup minced green onions
Freshly ground black pepper
About an hour before you want to make the salad, combine the cream, vinegar honey, and a pinch of salt in a small jar. Shake for about minute to combine, then let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. The dressing will get thicker as it sits.
Meanwhile blanch and drain the peas. Pat them dry, or just let them sit in a strainer to get rid of the water.
Combine the peas, radishes (or in my case, the zucchini) in a bowl. Add the dressing and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.