Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...

I love living in the same town as Mrs. Mildred Council, an inspiration for chefs, home cooks, kids and anybody with a dream of making a go of it in the business world by doing what she loves to do. Mama Dip’s Kitchen on Rosemary Street here in Chapel Hill, NC, is my go-to breakfast place, whether I’m looking for country ham with eggs and grits, or sausage gravy biscuits. For Sunday dinner, it’s the home of dynamite fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, salmon cakes, fried fish with hush-puppies and slaw, and greens every day. For family-reunion-style cakes and pies, her son Joe Council has it covered, always.

Mrs. Mildred Council’s two best-selling cookbooks brighten any kitchen, with her memories of cooking at home and in her restaurant, and an abundance of  satisfying can-do recipes.

Mama Dip’s

Country Bonnet Green Peas with Dumplings

This essential dish is family fare, where home cooks turned a cup of flour, an apronful of English peas, and a pot of water with butter and salt into a worthy and satisfying meal. If you have fresh English peas from the garden, use them here. If not, frozen peas make a memorable soup. I’ve adapted this recipe from Mama Dip’s Kitchen by Mildred Council (UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC.)

3 cups fresh shelled green peas (3 pounds whole) or 2 10-oz pkgs frozen peas

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces (half a stick, 4 tablespoons)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup broth from cooking the peas

In  a medium saucepan, combine the peas, water, salt, and butter, and stir well. Bring to a lively boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the peas are tender. Remove from heat and scoop out 1/3 cup of broth from the pot.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the broth and stir well. You will have a raggedy bowlful of dough. Using your hands, press and push and scoop it into a lump and then knead it a few dozen times, until you have a fairly smooth, springy dough. stir broth into flour to make dough.. raggedy, knead it a little bit.

Using a roling pin, roll the dough out into a thin round. Cut it into long slender strips, and then cut each strip into lengths, about 1-inch wide and 2 inches long, or smaller. To cook, the pot of peas to the heat and bring to a rolling boil once again. Drop in the dough pieces, one by one, until all these dumplings have been added. Stir as you go to mix everything in well. Add water if needed, and simmer about 10 minutes more. When dumplings are tender and chewy like good pasta, and peas are sweet and tender, taste for salt and adjust if need be. Serve hot in bowl, with spoons for the broth.

Serves 4 to 6

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. Marge Perry Reply

    This looks so soul-satisfyingly delicious! Oh, yummmmmm.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Well Marge, you are right on the money there. It is just that — I love it for the way that peas, flour, butter and water come together with an assist from salt and heat, into a homey feast. I’ve made it more times with frozen peas than with fresh ones, and either way, it’s pure, homespun pleasure.

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide Reply

    Great post. I feel so ashamed though, six years in the south and I still haven’t made these!

Leave a Reply