Monthly Archives: February 2011

Collards

I grew up in the south. In spite of this, I survived to adulthood without the foggiest idea of what collard greens are. So, for those of you who are as uninformed as I was, here is a brief introduction:

Collards are broad leaf-like objects constructed by angry garden gnomes out of high density rubber and aircraft grade titanium. Intended by the gnomes as personal protective shields, collards are able to survive all but the most intensive heat, and have a tough stem that is best removed before eating. Their high degree of resilience allows collards to resist the attacks of insects, disease, and photon torpedoes. Thus, they grow quite well in the south, where such things are common.

With this in mind, I can now acquaint you with the classic southern approach to eating collards… try not to taste them. Collards have an incredibly unremarkable flavor, which is characterized as bitter. In good southern style, the typical treatment is to add fat, acid, and heat to mask the less desired flavor, while drawing on the bitter edge. So, here’s the recipe:

First, remove the stem rather far up the leaf. Next, cut the leaves into strips or small pieces, chop one small onion, and set aside. In a pan large enough to contain the collards, cook several pieces of bacon until crispy, then add onion and cook until onion is mostly done. Next add some water, vinegar, and the collards and cook until collards are soft enough to eat.

Ingredients:
One bunch of collards (about 8-10 leaves)
One small onion
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (probably any kind would work ok)
3-4 strips of bacon (turkey bacon did not produced the proper effect when I tried to substitute)
Enough water to cook the collards

I’m not very specific about the water here because I’ve never measured it. You should need around a cup, but the idea is to mostly steam the collards. You don’t want to make a stew, and you are supposed to consume the liquid with the greens.

It is possible to simply steam collards and eat them as you would any other green, but the steaming process leaches out some of the nutrients you may want to keep. So, if the only green thing you find at the market this week is a few tough shards of leftover gnome defenses, try out the southern style. You might actually like it!

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Eating greens in the winter

Perhaps we get it from the not to subtle psychology of the Popeye cartoons, but there seems to be a requirement that at least one meal a day contain fresh veggies. And it usually needs to be green leafy veggies. Whatever the deeply ingrained source of this compulsion is, I think it sometimes leads us astray.

The past few weeks we had been trying to fit a nice bit of leaves into our meals, and it wasn’t really working. We are really good at working veggies into our meals, the tend to be easier to prepare well than many other things. The problem is that we are in the middle of bleak winter, and thus very far from the growing season of our favorite green friends. The greens we have been able to get are of pretty low quality and die dreadfully fast in the fridge. Keeping them upright from one grocery day to the next has actually become impossible. Not to mention the shrinking list of organic veggies to be found at any price. The stress of not meeting the ideal of one-green-veggie-per-meal was beginning to depress my wife, and possibly defeating the point of eating greens to begin with. The obvious solution? Just stop eating greens! Well, maybe not quite that extreme, but a friend encouraged us to try eating more of what we felt like eating. Maybe our bodies could help us navigate our meals better than Popeye can. So, this week we had Winter Food. The highlights from our meal plan the past week was:

Tuna salad sandwiches with boiled egg, celery, homemade mayonnaise, spiced with a little crushed up chipotle pistachios, and spaghetti squash with olives

Enchilada casserole with (sprouted corn) tortillas, pastured ground beef, beans, sour cream and lots of cheese

Broiled cod with collard greens (cooked in vinegar and bacon) and homemade macaroni-and-cheese bake, made with some raw cheeses, milk, and cream

Bone-in-chuck roast with garlic mashed potatoes (our green beans got fuzzy before we could cook them)

We did have a salad in there somewhere, but it wasn’t very special, so I forget which meal it went with.

I have to say, I really think this experiment was a success. We ate some greens, but didn’t bend over backward to fit them in where they don’t belong. Now, I can imagine what would happen if we left out green food forever, but I think a break now and then is good. I can say that our emotional state is now much improved, and we actually look forward to cooking dinner each night. So, if your weekly menu is getting too boring, or if your body is telling you to lighten up on the veggies, then take a break! Eat how your body wants to.