Now We’re Cooking Greens!

26 Sep

This year has brought new experiences to so many of us.  As you know, I’m passionate about cooking and I’m thrilled that folks now recognize the value of mixing it up, cooking and serving food to those we care about. With ChowChow & Soul™ my goal as your cooking coach has been to inspire your cooking, with confidence.  And this year, I can see that there are a lot more people who simply didn’t cook or are inexperienced because they relied on another family member, and/or local food vendors for grab & go, heat & eat, fast food, or casual dining.  Yup, it’s nice to let someone else do the cooking, but when you cook it yourself, you gain a bonus of benefits beyond expanding your bank account.

ChowChow & Soul™ is going to focus on some how-to for the next couple of weeks. My goal is to share recipes and options to help you build or add to your culinary toolbox, creating refreshing food and food memories.

My friend Pat shared with me, that she grew up in a family of scratch cooks and her adult kids only knew scratch cooking. On one of those curious mobile calls from the supermarket, her daughter asked “Mommy why is everyone filling up their carts all these cans? Should I buy cans? What do you do with stuff in the cans?” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against using canned items, but it is an asset to know how to cook it and where the food was before it was conveniently packed for the pantry.

We’re making greens in this post, traditionally considered an ethnic food, now they’re available in general market food stores and touted as a superfood. We all need to increase the amount of fiber we eat and greens are one of my favorite options—they are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K plus many of the B-vitamins. They also contain antioxidants which are substances that help “clean up” cell damaging molecules and may help prevent heart disease and cancer.  

Though they are available year ‘round, you’re in for a real treat if you’ve grown some or have a BFF who grew some. Now greens can be harvested when they mature, however they are sweeter after the first frost.  Once harvested, they can be cooked and sealed in zip-top bags to freeze for eating later.

Photo Caption: Bronzeville grown greens from left to right, Collards, Red Winter Kale and Heirloom Italian Kale.

ChowChow & Soul™ Greens 

Simmered greens are a mainstay in lots of families. Once you learn the basics you can blend in seasonings to give a mess o’ greens your signature flavor.

2 tablespoons bacon drippings

1 cup thinly sliced onion.

1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2-1/2 quarts water

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

2 medium-size smoked ham hocks

3 pounds thoroughly cleaned, rinsed greens, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces

In 8-quart Dutch oven heat bacon drippings over medium heat. Add onions, cook ten to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Pour water into onion mixture. (water will sizzle and create steam). Stir in salt; add ham hocks. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover; simmer 1 to 2 hours or until hocks are tender.

Remove cover; add half of cleaned greens to ham hock mixture; stir. Once the greens cook down, add remaining greens. Cook, stirring occasionally about 45 to 60 minutes or until greens reach desired doneness. Season to taste and serve. YIELD: 8 to 10 servings Note: Substitute smoked turkey for smoked ham hocks, if desired.

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