I traveled back in time this weekend.
I went to a place that I hadn’t been to in more than a decade. Tucked away in a small corner of North Texas is an area that’s near and dear to my heart: Doans, Texas.
It’s just a few miles north of the big “city” of Vernon and less than a mile away from the Red River. My grandpa lived in the house across the street from the historical marker for my entire childhood.
Doans was the easiest place to cross the Red River in the late 1800’s. Cattle drivers would move steer across the river, into “Indian Territory” and eventually on to Kansas. The Doan family set up a town at the crossing and opened a General Store and school.
Now, some 150-odd years later, all that remains is the old Doan’s adobe house. I’m not sure it’s the original, but it’s been there since I’ve been alive and was a place of respite for my family when we wanted to get out into the country with my grandpa and away from the hustle and bustle of life.
I’ve got deep ties to Doans and the Vernon area, but that’s all but a distant memory now. Most of my family has moved away from where my ancestors (Southern German/Czech immigrants in the late 1800’s) staked out a claim and the towns out there are withering away just like Doans did. Vernon looks nothing like it did when I was a kid. The oil bust hit hard, the Waggoner Ranch (one of Vernon’s biggest employers) was sold to a megalomaniac from California, and most of my generation had the intuition to get out while they could. Walking down memory lane was bittersweet: the memories were great, but the shell of what used-to-be was sad.
My husband and I went to Doans for the 139th annual May Picnic. It was a chance to reset, slow down, and relax. I packed a lunch (cheese, meats, crackers, and lemonade) and we had a fabulous time unwinding under the massive cottonwood trees.
Back at home after our day trip, I decided to make some summer-style picnic dishes for lunch and dinner this week. I’ve got a bumper crop of peas in my freezer and needed to make way for some more meat I’ll eventually be putting in there, so I made a pea salad to eat with some grilled chicken this week.
Pea salad always turned me off when I was a kid. It’s something you usually see septuagenarians eating, not kids or people in their mid-30’s. I haven’t touched a pea salad in decades, but I thought I could dress one up so it tasted better than what I remember.
I made my own ranch dressing (which always tastes better than the bottled stuff), tossed in some crispy bacon and sharp cheddar cheese, and immediately thought I had whipped together the most delightful pea salad anyone had ever made.
This pea salad is so much better than any I’ve ever tasted! It’s perfectly balanced with the saltiness of the bacon, cheese, and ranch and the sweetness of the peas and corn. It’s a must-try for people this summer, trust me.
Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pea Salad
A savory pea salad with homemade ranch dressing, cheddar cheese and crispy bacon.
- In a large bowl, combine the peas and corn. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the mayo, sour cream, ranch seasoning and milk. Stir until mixture is well combined, tasting and adding more ranch seasoning if needed.
- Stir ranch dressing in with peas and corn. Add in cheese and 3/4 of the bacon. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top with remaining crumbled bacon and serve.