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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

collards day

The day was finally here – it was collards day! These greens had been planted at the end of the regular garden season. Their growth was followed with great interest and even the plant previously called ‘the runt’ is now doing much better and starting to spread its leaves.

They were the proper size for their leaves to be harvested but I was waiting on just one more frost to sweeten them up a bit. They are supposed to be somewhat bitter if they are picked before the frosts. Anyway, yesterday was the day – collards day.

If you have never grown or picked collards let me explain. Collards are in the cabbage family; except only one type of them actually forms a head. My variety is one of the loose-leaf types. These leaves spread out and the plant can be up to three feet across. Individual leaves are about a foot and a half to two feet long. For commercial purposes the whole plant is usually cut, but us home growers pick the individual leaves.

The walk out to the garden was made and the leaf plucking was started. The leaves were plucked with one hand and held with the other by the stem, somewhat akin to holding a dead squirrel by the tail except squirrels aren’t green and collards are not fuzzy, don’t climb trees and do not eat acorns. After picking all I could comfortably carry, I took these large, green leaves inside.

Then came the major operation of the washing of the leaves. The sink was cleaned out and the collards dumped into it and water was run thereupon. Salt was sprinkled over the leaves because I read that it would help get all the grains of dirt off the vegetation. The washing procedure was repeated and then the greens were cut up into a large pot. Chicken broth and some salt were added to the pot and the cooking began.

Since no collard eating experience is complete without cornbread, I cast about the pantry for ingredients to bake a pone of this delightful stuff. Finding myself lacking in major ingredients, I sallied forth to yon grocery to fetch the needed food prep stuff. Returning with said items, I sat about to construct the bread.

Extensive research had been done on the computer for a cornbread recipe (several minutes) before the ingredient trip – else I would not have known what to get. You will also notice that the wife wasn’t mentioned, she knew this was my project but she was available to call 911 if I did bodily harm to myself. The recipe was printed out and construction began. The stuff was mixed up and placed in an old pan that had been used for this purpose from long ago. The recipe called for a cast iron skillet but all we had was the old pan, so that’s what I used. Hey, I need a cast iron skillet – Christmas is coming – hmm – anybody know Santa’s cell phone number?

The mushy mix was then coaxed into a semi-solid state in the oven and when the collards were at the peak of flavor-dom, we sat and partook of this southern feast. The wife had some mashed potatoes with her greens but I just stuck with the basics. After about three helpings I discovered a couple of things. One, this was probably the best batch of collards that I had ever cooked – I had tried it at least once before. Two, the cornbread was definitely the best I had ever baked, this because it was my first pone (pone is in the dictionary) – I wonder if it was still a pone since my pan was square.

This was followed by a glass of crumbled cornbread and buttermilk – my Dad always used to eat that last, like a dessert. Then I had several errands to run and after completing them, I came home and had a proper dessert. It was a very healthy one with frozen blueberries covered with ice cream, walnuts and drizzled all over with honey – I even felt healthier when I finished.

Many emotions were felt during the day, elation about my cooking adventures, bummed out about needing a brake job on the car, glad that I’m growing greens for the winter, irritated by a paper cut from opening a pre-approved for a credit card envelope, made extremely happy by a wife that loves me - warts and all, and totally amazed that my God would love me enough that He would send His Son to die for my wrongdoings (and yours too). ec


Blogger Jayleigh said...

Yeahhhhh!!! You answered all of my questions and more!

Congrats on the pone-making-scapade. And I am thrilled for you that your wife didn't need to call 911. Yeee-haw.

Glad you had such an awesome feast!

12/07/2005 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

Collards say a lot about weathering hardship, sustaining seasonal changes and cold - they are sure tough-skinned, wouldn't you say? We grew lots of them, and added saussage and onion, simmering them for an hour.

12/07/2005 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I had to look it up, but I now know what pone is -- more or less.

12/07/2005 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Using up the words.... said...

Mr Ed ~ I've never had collard - did I miss out on something great while I was in KY?
Sounds like you had a fantastic day though! I know how I feel when I can make something yummy out of little, and even better when it comes from the garden. :)
Can I come to your next big cooking adventure?

12/07/2005 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger MilkMaid said...

I had to look up pone too.

Your story reminds me of my Dad, SO MUCH! His collards are beautiful in the garden, lush and green.

About that iron skillet ec, if you do any kind of resale or garage/yard/tag sales, THAT is the place to purchase one. One that is already smooth, broken in and seasoned. I did just purchase a GREAT new one at Cracker Barrel. Actually, it's two, one is deep, the other is shallow and serves not only as a skillet, but as a lid to the deep one. The roasts and meatloafs I've made in them so far have been just to die for. Cornbread in an iron skillet, really is different.

You are making me hungry!

Your story was a nice read to end my hectic day....thanks.

12/07/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

jayleigh - Thanks for your joyous comment and even though it would be considered coarse southern food, we enjoyed the collards very well.

bonita - Collards are tough and in this area they usually produce all winter. Never tried them with sausage and onions - I believe you have flung a craving on me. :)

AC - Sometimes the pone is round or oval, but occasionally square, depending on the shape of the pan you cook it in. Do you guys cook any type cornbread up there?

using up the words - To us in the deep south, Kentucky is almost a northern state and they may not have eaten collards like us po' folks in South Carolina. Collards are a bit like cooked cabbage except darker in color and stronger in taste. To some it is a bit of an acquired taste.

You are welcome to come by for the next cookin', but it's a bit far to come just for that - maybe we could have some hog jowl or fatback to go with them. :) ec

12/07/2005 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

milkmaid - Don't know why I suddenly got such a hankering for cornbread - well I guess I do - it was the collards. The recipes that I looked up on the web called for a cast iron skillet and we haven't had one of those in years. The hunting of one at a yard sale sounds like a good idea though. Gotta find another cornbread recipe - the one I chose cooked out a little hard. ec

12/07/2005 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mella said...

You know, I've never had a collard and the closest thing I've had to fresh corn bread came from a box of Jiffy muffin mix...and I've never really paused to regret it, until reading this post. =)

12/07/2005 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

mella - The collards were good and the cornbread was edible but I will do better, I'm kinda on a cooking kick right now and usually go for scratch ingredients as well. Thanks for stopping by the patch. ec

12/08/2005 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger ann said...

hey mr eddie - it's been a few days, and i have much reading to catch up on! have i thanked you for sharing your life and your love of our Lord with me? thank you, sincerely.

as it turns out, i happen to have 2 cast iron skillets just sitting in the kitchen, collecting dust. they are yours if you want them, with gratitude and love.

email me and i'll send them to you.

12/08/2005 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

btw, even though I'm a Northerner, born and bred, I have people in SC. Easley, Pickins area. My maternal grandfather spent most of his life there and we have a whole raft of family. So I know a little tiny bit about stuff. I sure enough knew what a pone was! :-)

God is so GOOD, allowing for people so far apart to form friendships!

12/08/2005 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger madcapmum said...

I'd always wondered what collard greens were!

I have a pretty good cornbread recipe if you're interested, gluten-free but you could modify it back to "regular" pretty easily.

Have to agree about cast iron frying pans - second hand is best. I got a wonderful pan at an antique (read,junk) store; it's almost a foot across and it's square! I've never seen one like it.

12/08/2005 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

ann - Thanks for the kind words - just trying to be a brother in Christ, some days I do better at that than others.

jayleigh - I'm pretty sure that I have been through those towns - we have some good folks down here. And you are right, God is good to allow us to have Christian brothers and sisters all over the world.

madcapmum - We had cooked in stainless for so long that I had forgotten about the one big advantage of a cast iron skillet - cornbread. Thanks, I would like very much to have your recipe - you could either put it back in the comments or email it to me:

12/08/2005 09:46:00 AM  

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