Dixie Lee field peas

Just had lunch at my desk, which included various odds and ends from meals past, putting me in mind of an observation of Huck Finn’s:

The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn’t really anything the matter with them, — that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.

In my barrel, or rather on my microwaveable Corelle plate, I had some bits of fried catfish, some steamed broccoli, several slices of fried squash, and a ground turkey patty.

But the item that held it all together and combined so well with all of it was a bed of white rice topped with field peas. And not your mean, ordinary field peas that you can buy in any store, but the very finest, the kind your quality eat (or would, if they knew what was good for them): Dixie Lee field peas. As you should know, the pea liquor from Dixie Lees is the finest kind of juice to have swapping around amongst your odds and ends. (I remember being told as a child about a relative from way back who wanted to be enbalmed with pea liquor when his time came. I’ve always assumed that he meant Dixie Lee pea liquor, because nothing less would inspire such a wish.)

These were made better by the fact that they were cooked by my Mama, who treated my wife and me to dinner last night to give us a break after our trip over the last few days. These were the leftovers — or rather, some of them. I save some for tomorrow, to have with the rest of the leftover fried catfish. That will some more get you through the working day.

This was a rare find on my mother’s part. Previously, we had only found Dixie Lees at produce stands in our native Pee Dee. But she got these at the Farmers Market, according to my Dad, whom I just spoke to, because Mama was taking a nap.

But this taste has made me greedy, and I was wondering — does anybody know where I can get some plantable Dixie Lees that I can grow in a home garden? I’d be much obliged.

17 thoughts on “Dixie Lee field peas

  1. mike hallman

    A few years ago I planted a patch of these peas and I agree that they are some of the finest. I purchased my seed at Bob’s Ace Hardware in Leesville, which is across the street From shealy’s bbq. Also, you may want to try Consumer Feed and Seed in Lexington, which is next to Addy Dodge.

  2. Gail Kinsey

    Reading your blog about the “pea liquor” over rice made me think about 40 yrs ago when I lived in Myrtle Beach and my daughter 5 yr old invited her friend over for dinner. I asked the little girl if she wanted pea liquor over her rice. She looked real funny and then said,”My daddy likes liquor too but he doesn’t eat it over rice.” It was all I could do to keep a straight face. We still get Dixie Lee’s from the Pee Dee area.

  3. Brad Warthen

    And remember, when you go to put your field peas on your rice, do NOT use a slotted spoon, or you won’t get any pea liquor. But be sure you get plenty of actual peas, else the other folks at the table will accuse you of hogging the liquor (NOT the kind that little girl’s daddy liked), and that just won’t do.

  4. slugger

    The liquor off turnips and field peas is the best over rice. You must cook the turnips and the field pies with fatback or it will never turn out right.
    You must fry the fatback and take it out of the pot before adding the water and the turnips or the peas. You will eat the fatback on a biscuit (which is from scratch).
    Southern cooking at it’s best.

  5. NotANative

    “Give Peas a Chance” — because the chance for peace around here is slim-to-none.
    It seems to be a choice & has something to do with the Civil War starting here. Didn’t it?
    P.S. Welcome back. I thought the bean counters were at it again…

  6. CountryGirl

    Love your blog but have a question for you – what area do you consider the Pee Dee?
    Back to the peas – my husband planted acres of these peas last year and gave them to all our family and friends. It is the only vegetable that we put in our freezer. We love them. I’ll email you when they’re ready this year. We live in Hartsville which I think is in the Pee Dee.

  7. Brad Warthen

    I was born in Bennettsville. My mother was born in Marion. Both are about as Pee Dee as you get.
    I suppose the traditional perfect field-pea-growing region extends into Horry County, but I’m not exactly sure of the boundaries…

  8. JAN

    I am a transplanted southerner living in Ca., north of L.A. I found your blog by googling field peas. I am desperate to have some fresh/frozen field peas, preferably Dixie Lee but, I will take whatever I can find. If anyone knows of anyone who will ship me some peas, please email me. I will pay for shipping plus the peas. I would love some silver queen corn too, but that’s probably too much to hope for. Thank you for your help!

    1. Becky

      That would be terribly expensive to ship. A bushel of field peas is $38.00 locally, though it looks more like two gallons of shelled peas. I just went with a neighbor to buy some, she rinses them good, then boils them for 8 minutes, drains, ices them down and puts them up 2 cups to a bag, in baggies to freeze. Silver Queen corn is available now too, but I cannot imagine the shipping costs. I can’t recall how much the corn is…but could take a look. I’m at Sunset Beach, NC with good fresh produce all around. Ever heard of Pindo Palm jelly…me either, until I noticed I had one in my back yard and made this delicious jelly this week…..can’t buy that anywhere either.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        There’s one of those palm trees in our neighborhood, where we regularly walk, and my wife was telling me you could make a jelly or jam with the fruit. Once a few days ago, she picked one up from the road to taste it, and said yes, that would make good jam.

        My wife does things sometimes I would NOT do…

  9. Curtis Irby

    We have just become acquainted with this Dixie Lee pea seed and are looking for this seed; have not been able to find them in VA. Any help?

  10. Bob

    Williams Garden Center in New Bern,NC
    252-638-1983 always has Dixie Lee Pea seeds. Also if you grow them just save a few dry pea pods for next seasons garden

  11. Juanita T. Upchurch

    As a child growing up on a farm, my father would plant a large garden and one of the main items planted was Dixie Lee Peas. My children grew up eating Dixie Lee Peas grown by their “Papa”; therefore, they acquired a new name…..”Papa Peas”. I just purchased seed peas today in Benson, NC at Medlin & Dorman, Inc. They always have them and lots more other seeds to choose from for your summer garden.

  12. Valerie

    Originally from Alabama but now in Raleigh, these peas are like gold in our house! I would rather have dixie lee peas (cooked with bacon grease) with pea liquor and cornbread for dinner than anything else.

  13. Tim

    I just came back from Myrtle Beach and bought some fresh dixie lee peas and brought them home. I live in Ohio and grew up in Atlanta from 1960-1965. I remember some of the southern cooking, however never heard of this pea. Different foods really interest me. These peas I bought at “Holden Brothers Farm Market” I called them to try and get some more, however, they do not ship. Something else I bought was “mountain butter” it is orange like Wisconsin cheddar cheese and all it is made from is cream and salt. I was told it is orange because the cows only eat grass no corn. Holden Brothers phone number is 910-579-4500. also if anyone knows someone that will ship these peas fresh or frozen, please E mail


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