Twink's Treats: Collards Rule
June is almost halfway over – how time is speeding! We are approaching Father’s Day, and I’m so very lucky to be able to celebrate this weekend with my own father, Haynes. He’s such a special man, and has always been my very own “hero”. Yes, I’m a self-proclaimed, proud “Daddy’s Girl”! He’s a World War II veteran, having served in the Army Infantry in New Guinea in the South Pacific, and is so proud of his country. He loves his family, both immediate and extended, and has been such a great role model to me, my sister, brother, and our children. My friends all love him, too! He’s one of the last great Southern gentlemen, and believes there’s no excuse for bad manners. Not a bad trait, I must say. I admire, love and adore him and am thankful every day for his love and influence in my life.
He also loves good food, is a wonderful guest, and is always happy to come to my house for dinner. And you know, nothing makes me happier than to cook for my family and friends! I do know that one thing on my menu for Father’s Day will be Collard Greens, as he loves them so much. He grew up on a farm in rural eastern North Carolina during the Great Depression, and his mother (my grandmother Loreen) prepared them often for the family. Collards are a staple in the South, along with other types of greens, but there are those of us who believe that collards are the best. They are also popular in other countries, namely Brazil, Portugal, Africa, the Balkans, northern Spain and northern India to name a few. They are a great source of iron, vitamins A, C, and K, along with calcium and fiber.
My New Year’s day tradition is to always have some collards along with blackeyed peas for good luck., and I always have my mother and father over to share in that tradition. However, they aren’t only for New Year’s – we eat them all year long. One of the greatest compliments I had from my father was “How did you learn to cook these collards just like my mama did?” I knew I’d made it, at least with collard greens. I believe that by cooking them the Southern way you can’t go wrong! The secret is to cook them long and slow with just enough seasoning to enhance the natural flavor. Here’s my version:
2 bunches fresh collard greens, washed thoroughly, chopped, with stems and middle
1 onion, chopped
Ham pieces (not deli ham) – or a Smithfield honey ham steak, if you don’t have ham pieces in the freezer
1 tablespoon sugar
About a ½ cup olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
In large stockpot, bring about 6-8 cups water to a boil. Add ham, onion and collards. Collards will wilt when they have contact with the water, so continue stirring them until they are all immersed in the pot and covered with water. Bring to a boil, add sugar, about ½ cup apple cider vinegar and the olive oil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 7- 8 hours. Add salt and pepper, and serve a cruet of apple cider vinegar on the side for individual taste.
My heart is with all of you this Father’s Day, especially those who have lost their fathers, and those who are separated from family by distance. A special toast to my father, my husband, my brothers-in- law, and my wonderful son – Happy Father’s Day!
Until next time, be kinder than necessary, and make someone’s day today with your smile! -Twink