I have always loved greens. Turnip, collard, or mixed—I just adore them. Among the greens I like, my Grandmama’s ranks the absolute highest. No one can make them like her. However, I did learn that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing …
When I was working on my degree, I lived with my grandparents for a while. Grandadddy passed away while I was living there and it was just me and Grandmama. You can imagine how very different life was for the both of us with Grandaddy gone. Being a southern lady, Grandmama needed someone to take care of – because thats just what southern women do. I had mentioned before how much I enjoyed Grandmama’s greens and she was off to the races with a cause!
Every day for lunch, we had turnip greens. Every day for supper, we had turnip greens. There might have been a day or two in there in which we only had them once, but they always made a show before the sun went down, carried to the table by a very pleased looking Grandmama as she bragged on how much I loved to eat them. I DID love them and hers WERE the best but … y’all can just imagine. I ate every bite, every day, at every meal she served them at. After a month or two, I half expected to look in the mirror and find my skin had turned green. At one point I went to get blood work and the doctor was impressed with my iron levels, her exact words were “You must eat a lot of greens and such.” If she only knew.
I laugh now, just as I did then, about Grandmama making me greens so much. I did get a little weary after a while, but the thought that was behind them still made them delicious and to this day I still count them among some of my favorite dishes.
Greens are a critical part of our New Year’s Day meal in the south. According to our tradition, the amount of greens you eat is directly proportionate to how much money you will have in the coming year. Even my brother, who has picky eating habits to rival the most obstinate toddler, has been known to manage a bite or two on New Years day!
- 3 bunches collard greens
- 3/4 cup cider Vinegar
- 2 quarts water
- 1/4 cup salt
- Ham Hock, Ham bone, or pieces of country ham, optional
Rinse greens well. Remove spines and chop coarsely, place in pot. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until collards are tender, about two hours, adding more water if needed. Serve warm with hot pepper sauce.
Hot Pepper Sauce
- 3 cups water
- 1 cups white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 hot peppers from jar, whole
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
Combine all in pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until amount is reduced by half. Drizzle over greens or other vegetables. Refrigerate remainder.
Originally published on SouthernPlate