Those are the first collards of the season from the garden that will be part of our meal tonight. Because they are young they will be especially tender and delicious. I have them simmering already with chopped onions, some chicken Better Than Bouillon, salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and some balsamic vinegar which is a beautiful thing in greens because it gives them that sweetness. Southern cooks have always added a tiny bit of sugar to their greens but with the balsamic, you don't need it.
The meat of the pig is also often used in the cooking of greens in the south. I believe there was good reason for this back in early days, one of them being that the cheapest cuts of pork were what many people could afford and not much of that. So using what could be bought as a seasoning in the greens added a little protein, some needed fat, and a lot of flavor, especially if the pork was smoked. I have seen more modern cooks use a smoked turkey wing in their greens and that sounds good. I've used a few drops of liquid smoke in my greens many times but that's not necessary. I imagine that some smoked paprika would work well too.
It might seem weird that I would say that the pork gave the greens needed fat but remember- those were the days before the normal diet was full of the fats that we consume in so many different ways. Especially for those who were living on very little money. One of my favorite lines of one of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's books comes from a woman who was welcoming Marjorie to "The Creek". She is a Black woman and has been raised there, knows all the neighbors and their histories, and is a sort of de facto expert on all things related to The Creek. She tells Marjorie that although life there is not easy, one can indeed procure enough of their "grits and grease" to live on if they try. If you think about it, there were probably very few sources of dietary fat commonly available then. Venison, which was hunted and eaten by many, is very, very low in fat. Same with the fish they caught. Cows were raised to eat and to milk but not many could afford their feed and keep. Most of the cattle (and I'm talking about Florida here) were wild things, scrub cows, that were rounded up and driven to market, and they were scrawny and tough, I am sure. A milk cow was somewhat of a luxury, I think, and so the cream needed to make butter was not often available.
Olive oil sure wasn't around. Neither was corn oil. Peanut, coconut, avocado oil? I doubt anyone ever even dreamed of those sorts of fat.
So there was the pig. Far more easily and cheaply raised then cows, and just full of fat.
It was a different world, a different time, but damn- pork is still delicious and many still eat it and use it as seasoning, consuming the fat of it whether we need it or not.
And of course, mostly not.
Still- how many of us remember that can beside the stove that our mothers poured their bacon grease in to keep for cooking? And many great bakers still claim that lard (the rendered fat of the pig) is the best fat for making pastry, far better than butter.
I surely did not mean to come here to talk about pork fat tonight. Hell, I don't know what I came to talk about.
I'm sort of having a time of it, feeling low and without energy or purpose. It sucks.
But I did take a walk this morning. Not a long one, but enough to get me up and out. And did some laundry and gathered up the branches the roofers had cut away from the house and hauled them to the burn pile. I've been meaning to do this for weeks so it feels good to finally get it done.
The kidney stone doc just called and gave me a report. I really appreciate the fact that he calls me himself to discuss things. It turns out that the stone is 8mm which is a pretty large stone. Too large to actually enter the ureter. So. It is not going to make that agonizing journey down the tube. But it appears that it is trying, moving forward, moving back, which is what is causing my discomfort. Sound wave lithotripsy can be done. I should have asked him what the benefits of that would be. I suppose one of them would be that I wouldn't have to live with yet another type of chronic pain. He said I don't have to make any decisions right away and I appreciated that too. It is comforting to know that he's there and available should I need him.
So that's life here. Hank and Rachel are on their way home from Miami after a fabulous weekend. Lily and her kids are at the fair which is happening this week in Tallahassee. How I used to love the fair and Lily invited us to go but I just can't even begin to imagine that sort of stimulation and input these days.
To end on a positive note, here's a joke August told me yesterday.
Why did the lion cross the savannah?
To get to the other pride.
There were more in the same vein. Here's one I just made up.
Why did the groom cross the church?
To get to the other bride.
Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?
I gotta go cook my grits.