Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Greens, beans and irrational weather

Yesterday morning I left my house in flip flops and returned wishing I'd worn rain boots and a winter coat. Today there's almost a foot of new snow. In the transitional period, it went from 72 to 34 degrees in less than two hours... guys, Utah might be trolling me.

I have not been cooking much lately. First my dad came to visit and left me a bunch of fancy cheese, and then I caught a stomach bug and spent four days living on gatorade and saltines.  Now, however, it's lasted several weeks. I ate all the cheese, and I no longer have the flu... guess I'll have to find something else to blame. It's finals. My back hurts. I'm lazy? It's April.

Monday, I spent the morning navigating the awkward space between "I need caffeine to wake up" and "it's past the hour where I can have coffee without sleep consequences", and the afternoon trying to will myself to move the six feet from my couch to my desk. Sometimes Monday at noon is really Sunday morning... real life.

Monday evening I broke my blender while doing the dishes, which sent me scurrying back to my couch discouraged and wondering what I could do with seven frozen bananas. Maybe an olive sandwich will fix my problems? How difficult would it be to smuggle bubbly water from work if I made this syrup? Why does my back hurt? Why did I buy collard greens?

I bought the collard greens in last week's attempt to motivate myself, which involved purchasing a bunch of random vegetables in an attempt to force culinary activity. I'm not sure I've ever eaten a collard green before, and I've certainly never cooked them, so I don't know quite why I decided to bring them home. Maybe I subconsciously realized they were sturdy, and therefore unlikely to go the way of the green onions wilting in the back corners of my fridge. Maybe I was delirious with flu.

Either way, I had them and I cooked them, with instructions from the lovely lady over at Orangette. I honestly wasn't that excited reading the recipe- unknown greens and chickpeas? No weird exciting flavors? - but I had all the requisite ingredients, and I trust that Orangette lady reflexively.

I made some cornbread too. It was mostly butter, and kind of disappointing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I wasn't that excited eating the recipe either- at least not Monday night. My stomach was too full of crackers and coffee and english muffins to appreciate green things and beans, and eating from my dutch oven on a warm summer night felt all wrong and confusing... like wearing a Christmas sweater in June. Sometimes April is a summer night.

I should have known better though- when I came home the next day covered in sleet, the leftovers were perfect. Chewy, bitter, sour and beans. Maybe that's not everyone's cup of tea, but I couldn't have been happier. I ate my collard greens cold from the tupperware, sitting on my couch and listening to the rain. Today, looking out the snow, I wish I had more. Sometimes April is a winter morning. Sometimes you just need a reason to get moving.

Collard Greens with Chickpeas and Onions
Adapted slightly from Orangette

1 bunch collard greens
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion (or one small), diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp lemon juice

Remove the central ribs from the collard greens and toss them. With kale, I do this by folding the leaves in half lengthwise and then cutting the rib out in one move, but my collard green leaves were big enough that I had to cut them out the normal way. Rinse the greens well, drain, then cut into 1/4 inch ribbons. I do this by rolling them up and then chopping somewhat haphazardly, but stacking the leaves and then slicing would probably work better.

Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a dutch over or skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add chickpeas and collards, salt well, and fold everything together. I used a dutch oven so everything fit, but if you're using a frying pan you might need to add the collards in batches. Cook until everything starts to wilt down, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently, covered, until the greens are tender, occasionally stirring. This should take 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and taste for seasoning... I founded I wanted more lemon than recommended.

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