On this day in 2006, I decided to start a blog. At the time, I barely new what a blog was, but it seemed like a way to personalize my website, so I decided to give it a try. I had no idea that simply recording what I was cooking would very quickly evolve into creating and sharing my own recipes or that snapping quick photos at the dinner table with my point-and-shoot would eventually lead to a dining room filled with photography equipment and “props” (formerly known as dishes). I’ve written three anniversary posts now (years one, two, and three are in the archives, but I somehow missed last year), and it feels like I’ve said everything there is to say about the occasion, but one thing bears repeating: Without you readers, this blog would not exist. Knowing that there are people out there reading what I write, cooking what I cook, and being (I hope) entertained by the photos that I take has made me strive to be a better writer, recipe developer, and photographer. I never cease to be educated and inspired by your comments and emails, and I know that recipes aren’t created in a vacuum: It takes a village to raise a mini tofu quiche, in all its myriad variations. So thank you all. I really couldn’t do it without you–and wouldn’t want to.
As a token of my thanks, I offer you this bouquet of red mustard greens that I bought last week at Rainbow, the natural food co-op here in Jackson. Todd in the produce department graciously answered my “What the heck is this?” with information on both the greens and their grower, a local tomato farmer who is growing several varieties of greens for the winter. Todd advised cooking the mustard greens with turnip greens, to balance out their peppery bite, so I bought a bunch of each. Some of the turnip greens even had tiny turnips attached:
Traditionally, Southerners cook greens by simmering them in ham-seasoned water until very tender, often an hour or more, and with older greens, I do a similar, vegan version using caramelized onions and hickory salt to get the smokey seasoning without harming a pig. But these mustard and turnip greens were young, very tender, and thin-stemmed, so I opted for quick-cooking them in just a little broth. I cut the tiny turnips into slivers and added them to the skillet with the onions and tossed in a little ginger for fragrance and bite. But the real excitement is provided by the handful of dried cranberries I added to the greens just before serving. Their sweet and tangy flavor complemented the peppery greens just perfectly. This Southerner, at least, has a new favorite way to prepare greens.
New Southern Greens
The sweet and tangy flavor of cranberries complement the peppery greens just perfectly.
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used Imagine’s No-Chicken broth)
- 1/2 small red onion , thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger root
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 10 ounces greens (about 2 small bunches mustard, turnip, or collard greens), stemmed and chopped*
- 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
Prepare your vegetables beforehand because this recipe moves fast. Wash greens well, remove and discard large stems, and coarsely chop leaves.
Heat a large, deep non-stick skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable broth and the onions. Cook until onions soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and another splash of broth, if needed. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup of broth and stir in the paprika. Add the greens and stir quickly before covering tightly. Cook until greens wilt but retain their vivid color, stirring and adding more broth as needed to keep them moist. Stir in the vinegar, cranberries, and salt to taste. Serve hot.
*Greens weighed after trimming and chopping.