Butter beans, okra and simple things

Published 7:55 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller

My sister Dianne and I chatted the time away as we headed down I-59 North toward Hattiesburg. Hattiesburg holds fond memories for both of us from college days at USM to double dating in our younger years. 

My late husband, Glen R., and her late husband, Melvin, worked in the oil fields for years together before one blind date changed everything.

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Glen R. and I were married and living in what we laughingly called Roach Haven. It was the married dorm at USM, and it came by its name honestly. I remember Glen R. bombing our apartment to get rid of the roaches, and it actually looked like an army of them attempting their escape.

Unfortunately, many of them didn’t face their demise, but made it safely to the neighbor’s apartment. Anyway, the name fit the apartment building, but it was a convenient spot. I could walk to class without any problems, and we made sure not to leave any food out for obvious reasons.

When Glen R. was home from offshore we had plenty of fun things to do in and around the ‘Burg. I thought it would be a nice idea for Glen R. to get one of his offshore buddies to join us for dinner and invite Dianne along. Dianne came for the weekend, and we all went out.

As Dianne and I sat chatting after a pretty late night of fun and laughter I asked her if she thought she wanted to see Melvin again. To my surprise she said, “Jan, I think I just met my husband.” She was absolutely correct. They married and spent many happy years together so that is definitely one of our Hattiesburg memories.

We have a place that we love to visit down 49 on the way to Jackson called Shady Acres, and that was our destination for the day. It is always packed because they have the best country cooking around along with a nice gift shop and a fruit stand. It is a pretty eclectic place for sure!

We enjoyed a delicious lunch, and then went looking for peas and butter beans to purchase. After all these years I had never picked up the habit of putting up fresh produce, and Dianne was going to help me with my first batch. 

We were in luck and found some beautiful pink eye purple hull peas and small green butter beans. These were the kind my grandpa always planted so that is exactly what we wanted.

Dianne graciously showed me the ropes, and before too long we both had several bags washed, blanched, bagged, and ready for the freezer. It really wasn’t hard to do, but I felt quite accomplished when I saw my freezer lined with veggies. 

Since then my buddy, Anne, gifted me with okra, which I put up yesterday. Dianne and I are going back to Shady Acres on Wednesday to do it again, but I must confess it may be for the Italian Cream cake. It was delish!

Write to Jan Penton-Miller at jpentonauthor@gmail.com