It’s been a little chillier than usual for summer here in the Pacific Northwest. After an epic stretch of days and days of sunshine, we got hit with a little thunder and lightning, a little r-a-i-n. Whenever the weather gets cold like that, I think about food.
Lately I’ve had a lot of summer food for me and my twins. Salads, fruits and vegetables just sliced up and “here you go.” I get a good amount of our food from farmers markets and farms. I know – lucky! Yes, it’s worth it and it’s good.
I went to get our CSA box this week and it was bursting with bright colors and textures. I sometimes think I shop alone because I like that feeling you get when your fingers flutter over food, especially the kind that’s just come out of the ground or off a bush – those moments when you share your alive-ness with what you’re eating or drinking. It’s no secret that moms like to shop for food late at night, right?
So in the midst of all that food anticipation here comes a new one for me – a big bunch of collard greens. Now my husband is from New Orleans and although he plays along with lots of my culinary adventures we also have an understanding that some of my efforts (and I know which ones) will just get a “that looks good” from him. I don’t expect everything to make it into leftovers in the lunchbox.
But cue the collard greens and I see grins and excitement from my Southern husband. Apparently collard greens have a place in his food memories that’s happy and that of course makes me happy. I’m no chef, not even a good cook, but I know what food means to people and every food has a memory for someone. So collard greens made it on the list for that night’s dinner.
Isn’t the Internet wonderful? A quick search and I came across this recipe for collard greens. It had over 200 reviews from collard greens enthusiasts. Sometimes I wonder who takes time to write all these reviews but I have to say I sure do appreciate each and every one of you for spreading the love and lighting my way. I read the simple list of ingredients and I was sold.
Well here’s a hot tip from a not so great cook – also read the preparation time. It turns out that collard greens made in this highly-rated way take upwards of 2 hours to prepare. When was the last time you had anything on the stove for 2 hours? Not me. Not even on my “I want to dig in and cook” evenings. Usually if I’m cooking for more than 45 minutes something has gone very wrong and I’m attempting a resuscitation.
But something happened with the collard greens that reminded me of my own childhood. The kitchen filled with that stewing, kind of earthy greens meets garlic and broth smell. The actual warmth that came off the stove made me think of the days when I was a kid, when dinner was started in the early afternoon, and things cooked on the stove of their own accord. I remember not having to ask what was for dinner because I could smell it. So the smell from the collard greens, entirely new to me, brought up my own food memories.
The collard greens were not a homerun. They came out a little bitter, I’m sure entirely due to lack of skill and experience from the cook. But I enjoyed making them, watching them wilt and turn dark green and soak up all that flavor. And I enjoyed making them because they brought up my own food memories and made me feel like a kid again.
How about you? What foods or recipes bring up good memories? Let us know in the comments.
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