Now I’ve gone and done it. I ate something we’d not had before. I spent part of Saturday carefully following a recipe for a food we’d never fixed in our almost 45 years of marriage: collard greens.
My neighbor brought over a collard green bunch, or maybe I should say, a head of collard greens. I don’t even know how to talk about them. I thought she was giving me some kale, but as I put them away, I realized I had collard greens going into my vegetable drawer. We’d joked about how to fix them and I saw a Facebook post about adding coconut oil to strange vegetables, not because it’d make them better but because they’d be easier to scrape into the trash! No, I’d find out how to use them. (Besides, coconut oil is a very good food and I’d not want to waste it!)
I knew I had southern friends who would know what to do with collard greens, but since I can search the Internet, I typed in: “Best collard greens recipe” and took my chances. Bingo! Now if you’re going to leave me, please come back, okay? 🙂 But, because the search and recipe were so successful, here’s where I landed: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/southern-style-collard-greens
(I’d add their “Southern Living” picture of the finished recipe, but it might be a copyright issue, so I went to the friendly “Pixabay” site for the above image of collard greens pre-cooking. Both the greens and the finished dish looked just as wonderfully appetizing as the professional photos, but I gave half of what I’d cooked to the neighbor and the other half we lit into before taking a photo!)
I did have to go shopping, or have my good hubby go, before I could make the recipe. I sometimes substitute as I cook and things turn out well, but if I was going to find out whether we liked collard greens, I figured I better follow the recipe that others raved about. I had to add a sweet onion, a thick slice of ham, fresh garlic, a pound of bacon, and a couple boxes of chicken broth to our shopping list. . . and I had to stay in the kitchen for about three hours to keep an eye on it, but it was worth it. We’ve added a new food to our repertoire and we are eager to have it again. Since I like bacon crisp and ‘meaty’ (I throw away the totally fat ends before I begin), I fried the bacon but I removed it from the grease it made and only added it back when the dish was ready to serve. I know, I read recipe comments, too, and it’s ironic how people give five stars and tell how they followed the recipe and love it except they didn’t use the such and such and they changed the whatever and substituted the thisandthat, and they’d recommend the recipe to the world! I read those comments too, but I did stick to this one except for saving the crisp bacon for the presentation only.
I’m reminded of a couple applications and an anecdote. First, the anecdote.
My precious mother ate food from fresh gardens most of her almost 97 years. Her gardens required a lot of work but from it she fed our family and put away food for the months when a garden wasn’t possible. She and Dad butchered our meat and for years, their generosity provided for our growing families, too. I sometimes wonder, “Did I thank them often enough and with good words that communicated my appreciation for the countless things they did? Did I realize how much they were sacrificing for us kids, even into our adult years or did I too quickly assume that’s what good parents do for their families?” I sure hope they knew I was grateful. But, back my reason for the blog. Dad was good about nearly everything, but he didn’t like a few “new” foods, and Mom, similarly, stuck pretty close to predictable vegetables and fruits. In her later years, she did like trying new things on a salad bar, but beyond that, not so much.
Following an incident where Mom lost her balance and fell in her bathroom, her last couple years were spent about a block from our house. I felt so privileged to have her nearby after decades apart because the locations ministry took us while she remained on her farm or near my brother’s. God was good in that the room that opened for her when she moved to our town was the room with a window that let her see our living room window. She often told how seeing our lights brought her so much added comfort as she settled into her new living conditions. I saw most days of the week, though briefly at times, but on most Sundays, we’d eat the noon meal together either at our table, a restaurant, or at a table in her facility.
One Sunday I served a vegetable Mom had not grown in her garden. It might have been broccoli, but it was something we’d acquired a taste for and I based this meal on the fact that Mom had often told others she liked coming to my house because I served interesting foods. I guess she meant casseroles or added cheese or something to the old standbys. Anyway, I noticed Mom hadn’t taken the vegetable and I asked her if I could pass it to her again, but she politely declined. “Don’t you like broccoli, Mom?” She said she hadn’t eaten it before and I said, “Well, there’s plenty. Go ahead and try it. See if you like it.”
No one I knew ever accused Mom of being stubborn, but she said, “No, I’m not going to even try it.” Of course I had to ask why. “I’ve not eaten it for all these years and I don’t want to find out that it’s something I would have liked.” When I was looking up the recipe for the collard greens, someone who was 75 had commented she wished she’d not waited so long to try them, and I was reminded of Mom’s comment on that distant Sunday afternoon. Miss her and Dad still. We were so blessed by them.
The other applications might be more general. One would be: Why do we halt when the Holy Spirit prompts or our circumstances provide a good opportunity to do something that makes us a bit uncomfortable? Often we discover the “new” venture fits us so perfectly, and if it was a prompting from the Lord, we are once again fulfilling more of what God had in mind when He created us for our time on this earth (Ephesians 2:10): 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Taken from Faithlife Study Bible online– great study resource!)
Another application might be – eat foods that are great for you. If you want to know some of the applause that’s due collard greens, go to http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138. You’ll be amazed how efficiently this antioxidant powerhouse packs a punch for us nutritiously. If you’re interested in detoxing our bodies, count on this vegetable. If your heart needs help, eat collard greens. If you want to fight cancer, it’s a go-to food. And on it goes with its health benefits!
God must have loved coming up with collard greens, and I do regret I didn’t dare to discover them earlier. God’s garden had to be extremely healthy, it’s just too bad mankind didn’t stick to the rules…. But, I’ve had to admit that if that forbidden tree had been in my yard, I might have hung around it, too, because all of have that little rebellious streak that needs to come under the Lord’s control. Let’s hope we listen to Him this week in all we do, including choosing which foods to eat.
Oh, and another application might have to do with all the rip-off “go green” organizations that make great sounding claims but take tax payer’s money and declare bankruptcy while pocketing our sacrifices to what we thought were good causes … but my parents said if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all, so you’ll notice, I didn’t get specific. You can do your own research on “green” organizations and follow their boards and money. Meantime, eat right and live well, and do your part to leave the world a better place when you go; we can do that without donating money to unscrupulous individuals and organizations. I didn’t say who or which ones, so maybe Mom and Dad are looking down with raised eyebrows to be sure I end this blog quickly. 🙂