George and I love visiting the Durham, NC farmer's market every weekend. It is part of our special Shabbos ritual, which I know is all backward, but the market does make us very happy and it is something we look forward to doing together. Lately we have bought collards from a special stall that only sells kale and collards—but what collards! The farmer bunches them together loosely and stands them on their stalks in huge dark woven baskets. The leaves glow mysteriously from within, and they seem so alive that I always feel like they are breathing very very slowly. Whenever I am forced to buy produce from the supermarket, the vegetables always look so cowed compared to farmers' market vegetables. I feel sorry for people who don't have farmers' markets near them; no wonder they don't enjoy their vegetables.
Tonight George cooked our collards. First he washed half of a bunch, but then he got bored and went away to rest. Later he returned, washed the rest, and chopped them up. In a large pot he sautéed onions and garlic. When they had mellowed into a darker sweetness, he added an umeboshi (pickled plum), some soy sauce [you might need gluten-free soy sauce like San-J], and a little bit of salt. Then he covered and cooked the greens quite some time. Mmm.... I cannot convey to you how absolutely savory they were. Although they tasted like golden raisins had been added, the sweetness actually came from the onions!
I'm really glad that we are learning so many ways to cook collard greens. I feel like so many of the traditional Southern foods are inaccessible to vegetarians. Also, although we live in a heavily Mexican area with many fresh carnicerias around, I feel intimidated by Spanish, the foreignness of the culture and cooking, and the large amounts of chicharonnes and tins of lard I see. Also, I haven't found a Mexican vegetarian cookbook that appeals to me.
Anyway, I am going to post a wish-list of good ol' Southern or Mexican dishes I'd like to learn:
fried green tomatoes
sweet potato pie
old fashioned grits
fresh corn tortillas
Any other suggestions would be welcome, as to be honest I just don't know these cuisines that well. Go ahead and post in the comments section below.
Butternut Squash muffins will save your soul - The MOST forgiving muffin recipe ever (as in, you can make a zillion substitutions and they will still taste really, really good) is from Vegan With a Veng...