July 1, 2015
Week three of our CSA brings on the formidable Collard – and what a vegetable it is.
I never knew what it was until I worked at an organic farm in Standish called Rippling Waters. Now sold and gone, Rippling Waters was owned by a man named Richard Rudolph who built the place up as an educational farm, a non-profit that hosted leagues of apprentices and high school students all learning about soil and food and the politics of agriculture. Very cool.
The farm itself was actually run by the one and only Julee Applegarth, who came from somewhere out of the deep Maine woods to try and wrangle the land there. Where Richard spread the good word about the horrors of agribusiness, Julee was the actual boots on the ground, at least during the four years we worked there.
When she showed up for the job Richard was pulling the leaves off of broccoli plants and selling them in Portland as “Collard Greens” – true story. In fact they aren’t far off, and in a pinch you could replace one with the other (actually it’s the same plant, just a different cultivar – Brassica oleracea for those who like to sound specific).
Julee is that kind of Mainer that doesn’t skim around an issue whatsoever with you. If you are, say, moving a little too slow on the planting line or, I don’t know, selling broccoli leaves as if they were Collard Greens, she is going to let you have it in the most direct and blunt way she can. No filter.
She was the first person to ever tell me I talked “way too much.” I owe her a lot for that.
She set Richard straight and made a point to let every worker on that farm know the proper way not only to grow Collard Greens, but also to eat them. Her way: with sausage. To Julee, Collards and sausage is the meal. No substitutes. And its good, its great actually and we eat it that way all the time. Sometimes we toss in some onions too or maybe crack an egg in there for some extra umph.
In the south they eat Collards. They sprinkle them with spices, slow cook em with vinegar and sugar, and eat them with smoked pork, smoked chicken, smoked everything. They eat them on the New Year to encourage wealth, hoping their wallets bloom with folded leaves of cash.
In the north we eat them with anything and cook them like kale. I think you will like them if you have never tried them. Our friend Nayibe from Colombia showed us our new favorite way of eating them a few years back. Basically you cook up a mess of whatever you like, say its rice and meat or vegetables and red sauce with mushrooms – whatever it is make sure its nice and hot and goupy. Then you lay out the Collard green flat on a pan and use it like a wrap, folding it around a heavy spoonful of your mixins. It is a great substitute for the wrap, tastes great, and makes for a healthy meal.
That’s all I will say about Collards, because, as I have heard, I talk way too much.
This week is a wonderful share and it includes a quart of organic strawberries from our friends at Broadturn Farm, a bib lettuce head, rhubarb (what on earth could you pair that with!?), easter egg radishes, Collards, a pint of snap peas, zucchini, garlic scapes, tiny little beets with their greens, and some mint.
Hope you dig it, have a great week, Love, us.