Monday, December 17, 2007

Cold Day, Green Play

It's soup weather, that's for sure.
But Cranky's been clamoring for something green. I think he's going all iron-deficient on me or something.
So we decided to do the next best thing to soup: stewed greens, southern-style, served with their nutritious (and tasty) juices over a bowl of rice.
Greens takes a long time to prepare. There is so much trimming, chopping and washing to do, and crinkly leaves can harbor lots of dirt. Depending on how much foliage you're planning to use — and it doesn't make any sense to use fewer than three bunches — you might be hacking and rinsing for an hour.
Oh, and you have to chop your carrots and turnips and bacon and onion... Lotta prep time.
Then it gets easier (but it doesn't get any shorter). You dump your bounty into a pot with an inch or so of water in the bottom, put the lid on, heat it up and walk away.
Some greens, like collards, take a long time to soften into a silky state. Others, like the chard we used yesterday, are done sooner, but you do not want to yank them off the fire too soon.
A man I used to work with is in a mixed-race marriage. His wife was honored to oblige, he told me, when he asked her if she could cook some greens.
She presented him with an artistic twirl of sparkling, deep emerald-green, al dente leaves on a plate.
That was pretty, but it was wrong.
Greens need to be soupy, and they need to be cooked way past emerald green.
From then on, my friend had his parents over now and then, and they'd cook up vast batches of greens-done-right to store in his freezer.
I wonder why he didn't just learn to make his own. I did.


Dagny said...

LOL. Too much trouble to learn to cook them yourself if you can get a parental unit to do it. Like how I can always count on my dad to make a pot of collards for family gatherings. But it's not the long cooking time that scares me off. No, it's all that cleaning and prep.

cookiecrumb said...

Dagny: I just revealed a cultural misunderstanding on my part. I forgot there are families where the parents *want* to do these sorts of things for their kids.
But make sure you get your dad to show you how he does it, for when he's not around.
(I've heard of people cleaning the greens in a washing machine, if that helps.) :D

kudzu said...

Oh, everything sounded fine until I saw that there was no -------- pork. Greens without pork are like a day without sunshine (like today). Must have been something in the air: I craved and cooked blackeyed peads (with bacon) and cornbread last night. Dark, long days mean we need those comfort foods no matter how much time it takes to cook them.

Betcha Biggles will chime in on the missing pork product, too!

kudzu said...

Peads? Ha.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: I really believe in these food coincidences, and I totally understand how you "needed" black-eyed peas.

However. Bacon is pork. I hid the bacon up there in the chopped vegetables, so you missed it.
And for seasoning, just so you won't think I'm a total hack: peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, salt, a smashed garlic, tabasco, honey, and a splash of vinegar.

tammy said...

Love those greens. I'm hoping for some farmshare kale this week.

Zoomie said...

Cranky should be brimming over with iron after that meal! Hooray for greens in whatever iteration!

Monkey Gland said...

Thank buggery your're still here!

Dagny said...

Oh, it's not so much cultural with my dad. It's just that in the last 15 years or so, he has realized how much he enjoys cooking. Now my mom is another tale. I still leave her house with packages of food. Well, unless I was dropping off food for her.

My older relatives used to talk about using Ivory dishwashing liquid to clean greens in the sink so the washing machine does not sound that far-fetched.

kudzu said...

What fresh hell is this? I just put a comment on the former item instead of this one and now I feel even more foolish. It must be the season (I would think so, judging by a morning trip into shopping insanity.) Anyway, check my apology about your porkness.

peter said...

I go back and forth on the still green/al dente vs. dull olive and melting question; a lot of depends on the weather and my mood. Pork is not mandatory for either, though it obviously does something special. Tonight we did pea soup with bacon, so the greens were pork-free and bright green.

Is there a point to this comment? Doesn't seem like it.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Funny, this "greens" craving must be a world wide thing. Although when the craving hits me I cook up a weed pie! Same green stuff I suspect, just a different carriage to carry it to the mouth ;)

Stacie said...

oh yeah baby! gotta get the ham hocks in the pot and cook it all dang day! and I love Eric Estrada, did you catch him on Sureal World, he seems like a very nice fellow... funny to think he was the definition of sexy back in the day!

kudzu said...

A message for Peter: Honey, you just can't
do al dente collards or turnip greens (I won't even go into what happens to your digestive system). Some stuff is just plain sacred. Ask Brazilians whose feijoada is complemented with long-cooked greens. Yes, yes, there are some that need that quick turn or even a bit of "melting" but we're talkin' deep greens here.

FaustianBargain said...

two words..

pressure. cooker.

peter said...

I disagree (not with the pressure cooker, which does miracles in minutes) but with Kudzu's comment on al dente dark greens. Not only CAN you cook them that way, you also don't need to cook them at all. I eat them raw sometimes- especially kale- when the mood strikes. Shredded fine and marinated in a variety of things. As for my digestive tract, raw greens are one of the best things for it.

Nothing is "just plain sacred." De gustibus non disputandum est.

Dagny said...

Now I'm starting to think that there was another cause for the Civil War ... ;-)

Lannae said...

CC, I am sure your greens were delicious! The true Southern way of cooking greens would include some form of pork fat, salt pork, smoked hog jowl or the like. Greens are supposed to put meat on your bones. oink oink.

cookiecrumb said...

Tammy: Great, winter farmshare! I thought it had worn you out, but you're still a trouper.

Zoomie: He was like Popeye. Chopped up a whole box of kindling. Hee.

Monkey Gland: You, too! Apparently. I'll come over and see what's up. xx

Dagny: You're all into food sharing. I really like that. Also, my friend's parents who cooked for him? It was the dad who cooked the greens.

Kudzu: Yes, I caught your note on the other post. Thanks. Now I have to go and scold Lannae for missing my mention of bacon! :-)

Peter: You can definitely cook dark leafy vegetables any way you like, but "Greens" -- the Southern traditional recipe -- is a pot of soupy, silky leaves with pork and seasonings.

Morgan: You Australians talk funny. Weed pie! I love it already. What is it?

Stacie: I haven't followed Erik Estrada's esteemed career, sad to say. I never even watched CHiPs.

FaustianBargain: Yeah, but one word: Aroma!

Dagny: Top honors for comment of the day.

Lannae: Bacon! There was bacon in it. OK? :D

dancingmorganmouse said...

Weed pie is a sort of Spanakopita, only with all kinds of greens, whatever herbs you can find in the garden, not as much egg and no ricotta. Oh, & we prefer an olive oil pastry to the traditional phyllo.

Lannae said...

Ahhhh Bacon! Now you are talking in a southern drawl!

cookiecrumb said...

Morgan: I love it. It sounds like Cookiecrumb food, and I just may improvise one. OK if I use cheese?

Lannae: Whew, glad I got THAT right! :D

dancingmorganmouse said...

Oh we use cheese, fetta, the goatier the better, ricotta is way too wimpy for a proper weed pie:)

namastenancy said...

Greens, greens, the more you eat, the more you want. I make a stock with ham hocks, bacon bits, onion, and other odd bits of vegetables. Then, I degrease it, freeze it and have it ready for when the "I MUST HAVE GEENS NOW" desire hits. If you already have a rich, flavorful stock, you don't need to cook the greens as much - that is, if you prefer a crisper green. But some greens, like mustard or dandelion greens, must be cooked longer because they are so bitter. Then, of course, you've got to have cornbread to make it a complete meal. And if you are into a real southern treat, have ham with red -eye gravy.
Yummy yummy yummy.
Then you run up and down the hills about 100000 times to run off all the calories. This food was created by people who hoed the back 40 by hand because they were too poor to afford a mule so you can just imagine how fattening it is.

Catherine said...

I think that's one of the reasons I love dino kale (cavolo nero). It's sooo dark green and cooks fast. Of course, it's not southern greens.

cookiecrumb said...

Morgan: Got it! Thanks. A new inspiration.

NamasteNancy: I think we got your salivary glands running here! Bon appetit!

Catherine: I'm embarrassed to say I've never cooked dino kale. I appreciate how quickly it cooks, and I bet it just loves to be drowned in good olive oil. Mm.