I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Collard Greens

I'm all about collard greens. Its story time on the blog. The reason I thought about collard greens tonight is very convoluted. I'll start from the beginning.

When I was a kid I used to ride a bicycle into town and back every day in the summer. That totals about 20 miles just getting to town and back, let alone what I did in town. I used to bike into FD to the Country Club Pool to swim for a few hours and then I would bike around town seeing friends, especially the incredibly few female friends that I had when I was growing up. You might say I was a bit of a Napoleon Dynamite character when I was younger.

OK, confession time, I'm still a Napoleon Dynamite character. I'll never change. I play the concertina for Chrissake! Anyway back to the biking. When I graduated highschool I bought a Trek 720 in preparation for college. It is a hybrid bike, halfway between a mountain bike and a road bike. My reasoning was that there are no mountains in Iowa, so why a mountain bike? Yet the bike needed to be a little more sturdy than a roadbike, what with all the hopping curbs and whatnot that comes with urban riding. So I bought the hybrid and I own it still today although it is in extreme old age.

A funny story: the bike has been literally at the bottom of lake Michigan. When I was in medical school I used to ride from Lincoln Park down to class every day. One day it rained and I rode back after the rain stopped. I hit a wet spot of pavement at the same time a poodle ran under my tire. I wiped out and the bike slipped off the edge into the lake, at a point where the water was 12 feet deep. There was a lifeguard standing right there so I thought I would ask him for a rope. My idea was to tie a stick and some sort of a weight to the rope and try to hook the wheel to pull up the bike. The lifeguard says "I don't have a rope." Looking at the rope around his neck I said "So you don't have a rope?" He says "Nope." All the while the old lady who owned the poodle was bitching at me that I scared her poodle, which was unscathed. In protest I stripped buck-assed naked right in front of the two of them and dove into the lake after my bike. It was early March in Chicago mind you. The seat of the bike was still filling with water and was sending little air bubbles up to the surface. I followed the air bubbles down to the bike, grabbed a wheel and swam up to the surface. The lifeguard was kind enough to pull the bike out of the water for me. By the time I got to the surface with the bike my muscles were starting to freeze up for some reason and I could barely pull myself from the water. I reckon it might have been a little dangerous but a point had to be made. The old lady was standing there in shock saying "Well I never!"

I have been interested in getting back into riding bikes. Today when I was in Kroger's I stopped by the magazine rack and looked at a magazine on biking. Right then I had a flashback to college. Easy E and I were at a tailgate party discussing plans for RAGBRAI. One of our friends had some sort of a bus and was touting its virtues. He was trying to recruit us and another guy to come work on the bus, explaining in detail what needed to be done. It sounded like a real pain in the ass. The third guy, in the middle of a complicated explanation blurts out "Dude, I'm all about riding the bus."

Back to greens. I'm all about collard greens but I'm not all about preparing them from whole greens to finished greens. You have to wash each leaf, take out the stem and tear it up. They sell prepared greens in the can but I detest them. In the south they also sell greens in a plastic bag that you can make according to your own recipe. I think its cheating. After the flashback I went and bought a couple bunches of greens.

I only had collard greens one time when I was growing up. I think I was 12 and we were reading Uncle Tom's Cabin. I asked my mom to make some and she begrudgingly did. I loved them but she had something against collard greens and we never had them again. The next time I ate them was at a soul food restaurant in Harlem called Sylvia's. I freaking love collard greens. I'm all about eating collard greens though, not so much about making them. A convoluted story to be sure, but all the connections are there if you take the time to read carefully.

Here is a recipe for greens from Emeril's Delmonico. My mom sent me that cookbook a while ago. How ironic.

Collard Greens

4 strips bacon
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T brown sugar
1 pound (2 bunches) collard greens, rinsed, stems removed, torn into pieces
1/2 t black pepper
3/4 t vinegar
1/4 cup beer (Hmmmm, what to do with the rest of the beer?)
1 1/2 t molasses
pinch of salt

Brown bacon and set aside. Saute onion in bacon grease. Add garlic and the rest of the ingredients except the greens. Cook for a little bit until forming a sauce. Add the greens and cook until wilted. Cover and cook 30 - 45 minutes on medium heat. You may need to add a tiny bit more liquid during cooking.

Notes: seriously, that turns out to be enough liquid. I thought the recipe was wrong at first and thought about adding water. It worked out the way it is written pretty well.