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Sunday, August 10. 2014
I like cooked potherbs, aka a "mess o' greens" -of any sort: collards, turnip tops, dandelion, kale, chard, spinach, cabbage. Especially fond of collard greens, even though they are far from typical Yankee cookin'. The Romans got their collards from the Greeks (along with everything else), so collards have a long history as food.
I will not prepare raw greens, such as salad, but have been known to eat that rodent food when placed in front of me. My theory is that greens are meant to be cooked, either with a bit of meat, or with garlic and olive oil. But collards require meat.
If there are no spare ham hocks in the fridge, I cook them with bacon or a couple of slices of ham, and I like them with bits of bacon and/or chopped onion on top. Collards are in the cabbage family, and I love cabbage in any form due to my northern European peasant roots (I'll try to remember to post my favorite cabbage recipes in the fall). Collards do not smell good when cooking, and you just have to put up with it.
Here's some collard history, and a basic Southern collard recipe. It's a given that collards and their juice have to be served with corn bread, even if you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Gimme some smoked short ribs or pulled pork, a bowl of collards, some corn bread, and a couple of beers, and this New England Yankee is close to heaven.
Addendum: Re raw greens, I forgot to mention cole slaw, known as "ragbag" among old timey Yankees. Home-made ragbag is a wonderful thing. I guess it's a salad, of sorts, and it works well with barbecue and just about anything else, including fresh fried codfish or a plate of fried oysters. Which reminds me that fried oysters were once food for the poor - hence the "poor boy" fried oyster sandwich. Yum.
One of my favorite chefs in town makes cucumber slaw. Slivered cucumber with slivered carrot with a vinaigrette.
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Red Russian kale is beautiful in the winter landscape (peeping thru snow) and delicious. Not too late to start some from seed. Cooked lightly with oilice oil or in bacon fat. There used to be a Red Rubine brussels sprout that was another great edible winter landscaping plant, but I haven't been able to find it for a while.
We had home grown reddish ruffled and speckled lettuce and baby romaine and bitter arugala (already gone to flower) and fresh parsley for salad today and it was good) Even the carnivore males in the family like it on their burgers. Most people who hate salad have only ever had iceberg and commercial dressing, but I think it's mostly a guy thing...
My favorites are mustard greens. Greens must be served with vinegar, cooked with ham or jowl bacon and lots of onions. And cole slaw is a heavenly thing.
My parents both came from Poland (circa 1900) when they were small children. My mom was green and beans eater, my dad ate meat and fish. So I grew up with a variety of Polish and American recipes. I learned especially from my mom to eat all kinds of greens and every bean that she could cook. Her baked dried lima beans, bacon and tomato/molasses sauce will remain with me throughout eternity, God willing.
Lately, I have taken to a love affair with growing chard--it's a no brainer to raise, and once at maturity can be harvested deep into almost November at northern Illinois temperatures. I am the local pusher for chard that the elderly seem to crave--especially Italians.
Cooked with olive oil and garlic and sometimes just a whiff of butter and lightly salted, it is next to paradise--unless you are Islamic and prefer melons...in which case....
I like how the rainbow chard looks (those neon colors are amazing) but prefer the giant white and green kind for eating.
Also bok choy and chinese cabbage, which are great for stir fry and grow faster (therefore may escape the bugs) than mega cabbages. I grow the red cabbages chiefly for landscaping after the roses are done...bake them in quarters with apples and vinegar in a covered dish to eat with roast pork.
Savoy cabbage makes the best coleslaw, IMHO.
OMG, red cabbage with pork roast! Have to go to the meat market NOW!
Hi, Buddy! Even if you didn't catch that rattler...(sigh!)
Off to teach Sunday school, having groaned at the topic for tonight: OBEDIENCE and the story of Jonah! Being a natural born rebel (grandmother always said I was born to be hanged), I think I will just read the story, have them each tell the story of some time when they were really disobedient and the DREADFUL CONSEQUENCES THAT ENSUED, play Mother May I, give them an eight foot long piece of construction paper and have them paint the whale with a scared Jonah inside, superstitious sailors sighing in relief on the boat up above, and carousers having a riotous good time in Nineveh...They will enjoy the discussion the most, as all of them are good storytellers...
Whre did i just read "all kids naturally believe that all things have a purpose" ?
Buddy, "MAD Magazine"? What a statement. Interesting. All kids believe there are monsters under the bed and that covers will save you from everything. :)
I lived in Canton, NY, for my high school years. My dad taught at St. Lawrence University. My mother cooked without salt and cooked something from every food group for meals. Oh, except for bread. No bread.
I left for college in South Carolina where our meals were prepared by a bunch of hilarious black women who knew everyone's name by the second week of school. We ate family style with the deans and house mothers in attendance at the head table in a dining room three stories tall. Very elegant as we stood for prayers and then all sat en masse. The food was soul food and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Food with taste! Biscuits at every meal and cooked greens of every sort imaginable - cooked for hours in fatback. I can't describe it all except to say it was nirvana and the average weight gain by Christmas for freshman was fifteen pounds. Every two tables had a table girl and her job was to fetch us seconds on anything we wanted.
Thanks for the memories. My neighbors are from Appalachia and taught me to prepare dried beans served with fried salad, spiced pickled peppers, raw sweet onion and corn bread. Too delicious as the varied tastes hit the palate.
I like broccoli salad from Ruby Tuesday's. I order it take-out all the time.
"Her baked dried lima beans, bacon and tomato/molasses sauce will remain with me throughout eternity, God willing."
Is there any way you could pass the recipe on? That sauce sounds great.
We all seem to be pretty good at improvising here. And I've been the primary, mostly the sole family cook for three decades now--and my kids always ate my food and still do now in their twenties.
Now, I might have my mom's recipe squirreled away somewhere or other, but I have usually made it from scratch-- trying to think as she might have thought.
You need a one pound bag of dried large white beans (limas are fine) and follow the soaking directions. It doesn't work with green frozen limas at all or canned beans as well.
The sauce is made with good thick crushed or pureed tomatoes, thickened further with tomato paste.
Season with salt, brown sugar, molasses, a touch of cider vinegar, a touch of cayenne (my preference), and allspice or mace. Season, of course to taste. I like the stronger, richer taste of molasses than tomato on this.
The low cal, artery loving way is to pre-cook the bacon. The tastier way is to spread the now softened, tender beans on a large sheet with a 1" rim, lay strips of uncooked bacon across the beans and cover with sauce. Slow bake at 300 degrees covered with foil for 45-60 minutes. The bacon will mix its drippings into the sauce.
My mom lived till nearly 98 so this dish didn't faze her own arteries.
Oh, John.... YUM!
I cut and pasted your recipe. I think I'll make it this week. That sauce is what caught my eye.
Yep - bacon fat from those old recipes was a good thing.
I'll let you know how it turned out. Thanks!
Coleslaw is a very good thing. IMO it has to be served very fresh and crisp and should never sit any longer than about four hours. I like it right in the sandwich. Much better than lettuce.
I bought a good cookbook at the library sale during the 'Old Home Days' weekend called "Connecticut a la Carte". It features menus and recipes with historical links to Connecticut. Email me a P.O. Box number BD and I will gladly ship it to Maggies.
Cool. thanks. We have a piece on the works about cucumber cole slaw. No cabbage - just cukes and carrot vinaigrette.
"Savoy cabbage makes the best coleslaw, IMHO"
I recently saw grilled, whole, cabbage on the food network - some southern gal who is bubbly and silver-haired -- Suzanne? I dunno, but she par boiled it, hollowed the center, stuffed it with bacon and cheese and grilled the entire sucker. It looked grrreeeat!
It's Paula, not Suzanne (not even close, I know) and you can find it on Food Network, Paula's Home Cooking: Barbecued Cabbage
One more thing you need - some sport peppers in vinegar to sprinkle over the greens. I think it's a specifically Cajun thing, but any diner in the South will have some bottles behind the counter (if they are not on the tables).
I have found that Wal-Mart is a good place for canned greens. Also for canned sauerkraut. Much cheaper kraut than other places. Quick meal: ham pieces w canned collards or turnips(drained), nuked for a minute or two. And/or kraut. Onion good, also.
Many years ago I tried a recipe from a Victory Garden Cookbook: Maryland Stuffed Ham (with Collards). It was to die for. It pan-fried or parboiled collards until soft, then stuffed them into a ham. Maybe some onions. Then sewed up the ham.
I havenít found any recipes that exactly duplicate what I remember, but here are some possibilities. I am using only this link to defeat the stuffed ham/spam filter:
Maryland stuffed ham. Several versions.
There are also versions that add grits to the stuffing.
Alice Tolan has a video on stuffing a ham w collards.
Ditto endorsing cabbage and red cabbage, as much as you can.
Germans are Southern Americans. Who knew?
My German parents stuffed me with cooked 'kohl' of various sorts my entire youth. Dad's favorite was a cooked 'Gruenkohl' mush, almost soup, with potatoes and sausage chunks floating in it. Sometimes ham. Mom cooked it in gigantic batches and we ate it all week. I hated it until I was old enough to know better.
I was 10 on my first trip to Germany with the parents and as soon as we were in Mom's childhood home, her sister, my aunt Hilde served us huge bowls of the stuff.
This was in the 50s, Germany was still poor, and Mom's sister kept a pig. I was assigned to help my cousin wander the local roads and fields looking for edible wild kohls and krauts and then boil them with human garbage, leftovers, egg shells, potato peels, bones, and such, and feed the slop to the pigs when cool. Apparently pigs also love greens, at least auntie Hilde's pig sure did.
I have always thought cole slaw was a corruption of 'kohl salat'.
Cooked up a mess of dandelions a month or so ago, sauteed in olive oil with plenty of garlic. Quite the spring tonic. Dont overlook the other wild greens such as Poke and Lambs quarter. Field cress was once abundant here in Virginia prior to "no till" farming.
Ok, here is how to extend the growing season for greens--enjoy.
Hope this helps.
Simple foolfproof southern comfort: Cook any green, or mix of greens--kale, turnips, collards, pole beans etc,--with a hunk of fatback. It provides all the seasoning you need. Also, throw in a potato or two to boil. Heaven on earth.
Also: best chard recipe I have come across: saute chard in olive oil and butter [garlic optional], toss in romano cheese, heavy cream to make light alfredo-type sauce. Serve with penne pasta. Salt, pepper. Dash of nutmeg and or cayenne optional.
Got to recommend Mustard Greens to the list. They even work raw as a peppery salad green and are a good substitute for arugula. I used it as a sub in some Bacon-arugula-penne pasta and it worked great just stir fried like spinach in the pan.
Long ago, in Hawaii, I tried to make up some greens but had to use local substitutes. I tried no meat for a friend. Turns out a Portabella mushroom cut up makes a nice contribution to the pot licker.
I also found a local favorite, lotus root, cut up in 1/4 disks makes a great crunchy addition that just burst with the pot licker it absorbed when bit into.
For any of you that haven't tried yet, greens are hands-down the easiest vegetable to grow in the backyard. Even among this easy class of vegetables, collards are standouts: they're about as tough to grow as dandelions. They're very resistant to bugs, and it takes quite a hard freeze to faze them, considerably less than 29 degrees. A mature collard bush can be three feet high. You just pull off the leaves you want to cook and let it keep growing.
We grow all kinds of greens: collards, chard, mustard, cabbage, arugula, turnips, kale, you name it, and we cook them up in mixed messes. We have to grow them in the winter here, of course.
Greens, black eyed peas, vine-ripened tomatoes, corn bread, chow-chow, and vinager-pepper sauce. Ummmm
Greens are not rodent food, but lagomorph food.
I am not fond of collards but they'll do. I prefer kale, spinach, mustard greens or turnips. Beans of almost any sort and cornbread are necessary, along with sweet iced tea and buttermilk. I do not care for fat meat cooked in with the greens, but some baby back ribs (twice a year) to go along is a sumptuous feast.
Down here in the sunny south it is getting near to time for planting your fall greens. There is nothing like going to the garden to select tonight's dinner.