Urban Farmette
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Mar 11, 2016

Great Garden Grown Greens!

Great Garden Grown Greens

After nearly a week of not feeling my best – maybe it was the rain.  Maybe it was the thoughts rambling around in my head about this or that. I finally got around to cooking  my garden grown greens.  The Mister is so patient, coming in day after day, kinda looking for the cooked greens, yet not complaining – eating sandwiches and even Chick-fil-A.  Thank you Deborah Boddie Birdsong and Sandra McKinney for lifting my spirits through your impromptu phone calls.

So, I head out of the house, stopping by the post office off to drop off Rbellah Naturals orders, planning to swing by Popeyes to pick up fried chicken.  Oh no, the place is dark and the parking lot is empty.  It’s closed!  What, how can a fried chicken place be closed?   Now what to do.  I have my menu planned and like my mama would so, “My mouth was fixed for that taste!”  I called The Mister complaining about the closed restaurant.  His quip, “Fry your own!”  He’s so smart – and he knows that I hardly ever fry anything.   I’m not entirely confident of my chicken frying abilities since I don’t do it often.  Or as with his second suggestion – I could drive out of my way and get some in the next town.  It’s already late in the day and I can see the traffic building.

Next stop, Walmart.  Zoom through, getting what’s on my hastily written list: onions, smoked turkey legs, half-and-half, ricotta cheese, bananas, dessert.  What, no smoked turkey legs!  Now what?  Look again – they SHOULD have smoked turkey legs!  Nope – none.  So I decide to go real old-school – it is after all, Throw-back-Thursday!  I find ham-hocks.  Thing is, I don’t really know how to cook them.  I remember my mama boiling them, pouring off the water and I don’t remember what else.  So I call my sister Rosalind – she would know.  No answer.  Wow, I’m really striking out on the meal.  But . . . , I see another black woman who looks like she knows her way around a kitchen.  She compliments me on my rain boots.  That was the opening I needed.  I tell her of my dilemma.  She says, “Babe – you can use some ham hocks!”  Tells me how to cook them too.  “Boil them for awhile, adding in a little vinegar to cut some of the “porkiness.”  I ask her about pouring off the water.  She said, “Yes, you can do that or you can use it to cook your greens in.  Really gives them some good seasonings.”  I muse on using my Roasted Veggie Stock instead.  We had a bit more small talk before parting, wishing each other well.  No time to cook a cake – I decide on my favorite store-bought Pecan Pie, Field’s.

Getting home, I throw on my favorite kitchen accessory – an apron and get busy.  No time to waste – it’s already nearly 4 o’clock.  I did decide to fry my own chicken so I prepare prepare a quick brine for the wings and drumsticks –  soak the pieces in a large bowl of cold water with about 1/2 cup of salt.  Plumps up the meat and seasons it from the inside out.  Rinse after about 30 minutes, pat dry with paper towels.  Season with  additional spices such as garlic powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper and red pepper flakes.  No need to add additional salt because of the brine.  Fry in your usual manner.

In the meantime, I rinse and prepare the ham hocks as the lady from Walmart told me.  Cook the greens using your favorite method.  A friend from Facebook, Felicia Konan had asked earlier what type of meat, if any I use in my greens.  I had told her – smoked turkey legs.  I also referred her to my video on YouTube on how I cook greens.  Information is also included on my Rosemary Jalapeño Cornbread.  Please note that I removed the audio from this version since I unknowingly had used copyrighted music on the original version.  Like Maya Angelou would say, “When we know better, we do better!”  As an aside, being a lifelong learner, I finally taught myself how to remove the music AND upload the video to my website.  Doing the self-techie happy dance!

Bravely, I fry the chicken remembering how both my mama and sisters did it.  So happy that I’ve collected vintage cast iron skillets and such over the years.  I must admit, the “Fried Chicken Angels” were looking over my shoulders because it out turned pretty darn tasty! Boil the corn.  Slice the tomatoes.  Getting ever so close to that Sunday Dinner on a Thursday night!

Stirring in the okra during the last 20 minutes of cooking the greens, I think back to a conversation with my mama from over 30 years ago.  The Mister and I were newly married and I cooked greens (we only called collards, “greens” when I was growing up).  He told me he didn’t like okra.  He’s from Houston!  I said, “We don’t do greens without okra!” Told my mama, who ever heard of greens without okra?  She said, “Why don’t you cook a small pot just for him?”  Somehow, that didn’t seem like a smart thing to do –  he would have to learn to like okra.  And he has – in greens, peas, gumbo, succotash, fried and especially pickled!  He just confirmed that he’s fine with it – as long as it’s not “slimy!”  Hint: That’s why you add it in the last 20 minutes of cooking.  It holds it’s shape while still adding the flavor.

By 8:00 we were eating.  On the menu: Greens with Rosemary Jalapeño Cornbread, Fried Chicken, Corn on the Cob, Sliced Tomatoes, Pickled Beets and Pecan Pie.  Everything was very tasty – though we saved the pie for today.

A very tasty garden to table dinner indeed.  So glad I planted those greens last fall! Speaking of planting greens.  As I told another friend Gazel Woods, on Facebook when she marveled about my greens thinking I had only recently planted them.  Years ago when we moved to our current house, my grandma DeeDee told me to wait to plant them in the fall because, “Babe, they’re better after the first frost.”  Now, my DeeDee was no scientist, but she sure knew the truth about growing what’s called cruciferous, brassicas or cole crops.  They are better after the first frost because the cold weather concentrates the sugars making them sweeter and more tender.  Additionally, they are now touted for their health and detoxifying benefits.  As usual, mamas knew best!

Cut-up Greens

Another thing that came up with my Facebook post – cutting up the greens.  My sister Marian and I reminisced about how our mama, daddy and sister Harriet cut up greens.  We both – and probably all of our other siblings did it the same way.  Chefs have a fancy name for this technique called “chiffonade.” I laugh every time I hear it. We simply say, “Cutting up the greens!”  My friend Sandra’s sister, upon seeing the picture said I must use some type of “special” tool to cut them up so neatly.  No, as Sandra told her, I stack them up; roll them – like a tube; cut off the stems; then slice in “rings” about 1/4″ thick.  Crazy as it might seem – I love cutting up greens.  It relaxes and takes me back to my roots.

The verdict on our Sunday Dinner on Thursday night:  The Mister:  Dinner was really good last night.  I’m having it again for lunch today.  Me: Really? “We” haven’t  packed your lunch for a long time!  Him:  No, I’m working from home today.  But I would pack it if I had to.  Me:  Now that would be funny, taking greens, cornbread and fried chicken up in TI!  The Mister: Ummm, I might have to invite the fellows over for lunch.  They would love that.  Me:  Oh, Lord – they might not ever leave!

Glad we still have a bunch of greens still in the garden.  Seriously though, they’ll be “cropped” and frozen in a few weeks to make room for my new spring garden.  They’ll be used for cooked greens as well as in Green Smoothies.  This year’s fall garden was a real success!  I hope you’ll be encouraged to grow something – even ONE thing on your own little urban farmette.  Holla if you have any questions about that.

Rhonda

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wife, mother, sister, friend. Business owner, writer, photographer. Yes, it's a lot but life is full of opportunites and we should take full advantage of them.
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SMV: Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Prov 16:3