02 December 2009

Staying in, cooking collards

The temperature outside is 6.2ºC and it is supposed to start raining any minute. There's some wind and the sky is a leaden gray. December is the here and now!

The sun comes up so late and goes down so early that it is nearly impossible to take pictures outsdie these days, at least at the normal walking hours. Callie wants her walk at 8:00 a.m., and then we don't want to take her out too early in the evening because that means she's shut in for too many hours overnight. By 5:30 p.m., the light outside is too dim for photography.

Yesterday all the supermarket flyers came in the mail. There are twice as many as usual, because all the supermarkets have special booklets advertising prepared food and special products (like foie gras and oysters) for the holidays at the end of the year. I guess a lot of people here, as in the U.S., more or less "order in" their Christmas and New Year's feasts. All the pictures and descriptions of beautiful, delicious foods do raise your spirits.

The rain has been good for the greens.

At 111 mm of precipitation — 4.37 inches — November 2009 was the rainiest single month we've had here in Saint-Aignan since we put in a rain gauge in 2004. The next closest was 107 mm in June 2007, the beginning of the summer of our discontent. That year, it was so damp and chilly that our vegetable garden was pretty much a bust.

Meanwhile, today I'm cooking collard greens. I grow them because I like them so much, and we had a long, dry, warm summer this year, so the garden was a great success. Collard greens are my special holiday food, or at least one of them.

Collard leaves

At home in North Carolina, they say the collard greens are better — sweeter — after the plants have been touched by frost. Well, this November it has been far too mild for that. We did have frost on one or two mornings in October and early in November, and that will have to do.

I picked, washed, and trimmed a good batch of collards yesterday and this morning. The leaves are green and good-looking right now, so I thought I'd take advantage of having them. Unless it gets extremely cold this winter, the collard greens will grow right on through. I'll have more in January of February. And the chard is still looking good too.

Pull the little leaf flaps off the stem, and then pull out
the leaf's main rib. Discard the stems and ribs.

This time I decided to be kind of fancy with the collard leaves — I pulled out all the stems and ribs and just put the leaves on to cook. It's easy to do, and you can do the same thing with spinach or Swiss chard. In fact, it's recommended. I don't always go to the throuble though. Once the stems and ribs are well cooked, they are tender and fine to eat.

A big colander full of collard greens

Season the greens with salted or smoked pork, or cook them in chicken broth. I put a few bay leaves in the pot, and a glug or two of white wine. Rough greens like collards can use the sweetness that wine brings to the pot. Salt and pepper of course, and if you like it, some hot red pepper flakes. Or a dash of Chipotle Tabasco sauce, which is what I did this time.

I recommend eating greens. Spinach, chard, collards, cabbage, and kale. Turnip greens. They are all good and good for you. Is it lunchtime yet?


  1. Greens are extra healthy for you.
    Good idea to cook them in chicken broth and put some wine in it. I like a little white pepper with them.

  2. Nadege, you must get up pretty early! It's 5:30 a.m. here in the midwest, and you're two hours earlier out there...but you've already read and posted! Wow!:)

    Ken, your posts about green leafy veggies always make me feel healthy :)


  3. Or maybe, Nadege goes to bed very late. MDR

  4. That was me chm. Didn't record my name!

  5. I'm up at 6am today which is early for me.

    I always enjoy hearing about greens of any kind. I've never cooked them with wine, but will try that soon.

    It's another rainy blustery day in 'Bama, but right for December.

  6. CHM, when I saw "MDR", I knew it was you. I go to bed early and get up early. Working for the studios for so long with very early calls (the earliest was 2 am), and because of traffic, I got used to it. I live behind gets so often at 4.30 am/5am, I go out and walk for an hour. In summer when it gets light early, I go to the Strand and walk near the ocean. Today I was to be in Burbank for a dentist appointment. I give myself over an hour to get there on time. Plus I have to give myself plenty of time in the am to read all my blogs.
    It is good to post about greens because it incites me to eat them.

  7. OK it is early in the morning. I meant to write I live behind GATES.

  8. Our nephew surprised everybody at Thanksgiving by cooking a big pot of collards with bacon and cayenne pepper. He gave them as much cooking time as they needed, and they were so good they might become a new family tradition.

  9. Hi Carolyn, is your neighbor from eastern N.C.? Sounds like it.

  10. Thanks for the great pics Ken. I didn't know what collard greens were. I have never seen them here. 31 degrees here today, 2nd day of summer.

  11. You'd think so, wouldn't you, but our nephew's from PA, now living in Boston. He was inspired to eat more greens by a Michael Pollan book. He lucked into a good recipe for his first try cooking collards.

    Salon is the word verification, very appropriate for your blog.

  12. I tried collard greens once, didn't much care for them.

  13. Starman, !!!

    Carolyn, do you know what recipe your nephew (not neighbor, I realize now) used? We are having collard greens with smoked chicken and turkey paupiettes today for lunch. It will be good, considering it's all leftovers.

  14. Ken, he said he looked up collards in Allrecipes.com. He made a slight mistake with the cayenne pepper, which called for "1 t". When we all yipped at our first taste, he asked, "Isn't a lower-case 't' a tablespoon?"


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