Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Behold: Collard Greens

Collard greens from our CSA bounty this week.

The only time I’ve eaten collard greens is when they were cooked in butter and spiked with either ham or bacon, making them delicious, but also removing any remote possibility of being healthy.

And I’ve only ever had them with fried chicken. (Is it even legal to eat collard greens without fried chicken? If it is, it shouldn't be.)

But Ray and I weren’t having fried chicken, we were having grilled chicken. And in theory, the CSA is supposed help us eat better, so I searched for the easiest collard greens recipe I could find and landed on this one at Simply Recipes — Sauteed Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins.

By some miracle we already had pine nuts and garlic so all we needed to pick up were raisins. So far, we are cooking with gas! (This is an expression Ray uses whenever something is going well.)

The first step — toast the pine nuts — went off without a hitch. (I am excellent at toasting.) But when I removed the pine nuts and added the garlic to the pan, things got intense. Lava-hot olive oil and burning garlic were popping all over the place, so I had to do a two-step away from the stove while it settled down. 

Pro tip: Be wary folks, this could happen to you, so go ahead and turn on that vent fan before you start “sauteing” this stuff.

The greens took longer to cook down than I anticipated, probably 7 minutes or so. (That may have been because I turned the heat down after being scalded though.)

The recipe calls for ¼ cup of white wine, but I wasn’t about to waste a bottle on collard greens, so I improvised with water with a splash of balsamic vinegar AND lemon. (The recipe says to use one or the other with water, but my greens and I live on the edge, so I added both.) 

Here it is cooking up real nice. Look at those pine nuts, so perfectly toasted.

At the end I added the raisins, pine nuts, red pepper flakes and water as instructed, let it boil off and then removed it from heat. 

As a result, my greens turned out relatively intact, which I think is how most people like them. But not me. I prefer mine an unidentifiable moss of green sludge and I wished I'd have cooked them harder and longer in more water. (That’s me.)

The Verdict:

A little Prince with your side of greens?
Pretty tasty. Again, I think greens are better slathered in bacon grease or ham, but what isn’t, you know? These were healthy and the combination of the sweet (raisins) with the heat (red pepper flakes) was a nice contrast. And it was super easy and fast to cook, minus nearly catching the stove on fire.

Ray said he really liked them but he is somewhat unreliable because 1) he likes about anything and 2) he’s too nice to complain about something I’ve made, so he can’t be counted on to be overly critical. I’ll work on him though. This is science.

The next few farm shares are mostly salad greens I believe, so I have a bit of a reprieve from coming up with recipes and cooking. Thank God. These collard greens liked to wore me out. 


Monday, May 09, 2016

We Bought A Farm (Share)

I am not exactly known for my kitchen prowess.

There was the time Ray and Carolyn had to rescue me from clutches of a peach crisp, and the time I had to call my dad from the baking aisle to find out what corn starch looks like. (I thought it came in a bag, like flour. It doesn’t, it comes in a plastic container. Now you know too.)

I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen with my mom growing up because even though my mom cooked dinner most nights, she didn’t spend much time in the kitchen either. 

My mom was the very person to whom convenience foods were marketed. She was a working mom who loved canned goods, frozen foods, microwaves and already-made pies. She could do those things, but why would you when someone else already had?   

Apart from a few cakes and homemade noodles on holidays, Susie Daugherty had neither the time nor the patience to follow extensive recipes or bake from scratch. 

So my mom did not teach me any old family recipes or guide me through homemade dishes… unless grilled pork chops with a can of spinach and a baked potato counts as a family recipe. (Does it?)

But she taught me how to put a meal together, which is the main thing, and to read when I was five, so I’m excellent at following recipes and improvising when need be.

But needless to say, it was a surprise to more than a few people when I joined a CSA/farm-share this spring. 

My friend and yoga teacher started a business with a friend of hers, and they launched Yogi and the Farmer this winter, specializing in one-on-one yoga instruction and urban farming in Covington.  

Ray and I are pretty good about making meals at home, but we don’t eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables, so I thought becoming part of a farm-share was the perfect solution. 

On Saturday, I was giddy to get our first share.  

The bags, containers, stickers and recipes with the recipe box are so well done, I was pumped for them. 

“Look how great it looks, Ray!” I said, showing off the Yogi and the Farmer bag. “The logo printed so well! And the stickers, so clever! And they gave us chocolate chip mint cookies with mint from the garden. I love it!” 

My interest in type and design is greater than my interest in green veggies, obviously.

But I finally looked inside the bag to find a our garden bounty. And in a surprise to no one, I didn’t know what half of it was. I had to Google image search the list of items they emailed us was coming —  lots of tender spring greens: a salad mix, collards, garlic mustard and microgreens, as well as bunching onions, kale and collard flowers and broccoli sprouts — just to be able to identify them in the bag.  

Garlic mustard? Collard flowers? Broccoli sprouts? Whaaaaat?

But it's exciting. Each week will bring a new crop to the house, and I’ll figure out (thanks to friends and Google) what to do with them. It will force me to be thoughtful and creative about meal planning all while learning to cook different things and eating more fruits and vegetables.  

We figure that even if we eat only two things from the bag each week (we split the share with our neighbors given there are just two of us, so we don’t have to eat the entire thing), that that will be two more vegetables into our diet we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. 

This week I am going to try my first recipe using greens from the bag. My hope is to document some of this on the blog in the hopes that a) we remember what we did with some of the stuff and b) let you know what’s working and what isn’t. 

And please, if you have a CSA/farm-share or just cook a lot with seasonal vegetables, please let me know some of your favorite recipes. 

Let the creative cooking juices commence!

(And don’t worry, if we have kitchen fire, Ray is a firefighter and he’s forced me to know that we have a fire extinguisher in the cabinet.)  

Also, canned spinach is delicious.

First Recipe — 'Stove Top Spinach':
  • Get a can of spinach, maybe even the organic, artisan, small-batch kind if you want to impress guests.
  • Open the can with your can opener and pour the contents into a pot on the stove.
  • Heat up the spinach. When heated through, remove from the stove and put into a serving bowl.
  • Serve and enjoy. (Delicious. as. hell.)