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Friday, June 8, 2012

My Southern Menagerie a Damn Yankee's Attempt at Collard Greens

Hey folks! Gypsy Gourmet is back on the scene halfway across the country missing my "adopted" siblings (Jared & Ashley) like mad. I recieved a random text basically letting me know that there was fun in store for the weekend and am I coming home? Unfortunately scheduled maintenence and necessary repairs are keeping this team on the road. The final nail in the "homesick coffin" was, "P.S. Your Bubba misses you and is HUNGRY."



Ms Carol
Ashley & Jared
Now I'm thinking of Georgia and everything I have come to hold so dear. Ms Carol is my downstairs neighbor and my "east coast mama", her husband Mr Charles is a quiet man, loves to eat, and is our fix it guy. Ashley is Ms Carol's daughter, sister of my heart, and is carrying my new nephew Dustin James who is due this September. Ashley's eleven year old son CJ is my favorite Butts County Braves baseball player and a sweet young man. Last, but by no means least is Jared, Ashley's husband. He has been my soul brother, my protector, and an excellent friend. He's that guy who's always there to lend a hand, share a meal, or be a good listener. People say you can't choose your family and while that's partly true, I think I've chosen my extended family well. Or maybe they chose me. Either way they bring a whole lot of joy to my world. I love each and every one of these people like they've always been mine. The sweetest moments of this last year in Georgia have included these amazing people. They keep me motivated to work harder, so I can stay home longer.
CJ up to bat @ season open '12
Jared and his tempramental tractor












Our southern feast
The characters in this play I call life don't end here. I have an incredible menagerie of friends and loved ones both in Georgia and all across the country, but we've got to save something for future blogs! Just know y'all, you will most probably will get a call asking if I can include you, and y'all have NOT been forgotten. That being said let's get on to the food!







My daisies from Niki
While home I prepared another feast for the eyes and the senses, with plenty of help from Niki. We had baked chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, several fresh locally sourced fruits, jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffins, collard greens, and a summer berry trifle that I'm including in my next blog. We went with a few healthier choices to keep the guilt at bay, but didn't sacrifice too much on our traditional southern fare. While I'm on the subject, my education on southern food just began a little over a year ago. I am originally from Minnesota. I have lived all across the country and just settled in Georgia last year. I have been told that for the first year I'm a "transplant" and after that I am referred to as a "Damn Yankee". While some look at it as a slur, I'm proud of my "Damn Yankee" status, and have tried like hell to make the South proud by fixing traditional dishes on my own with as little deviation as possible. However, I am who I am, and do add a bit here and there to suit my tastes. We all know that most folks ain't seen nothin' like me yet, so hopefully I'm forgiven for being an original. This particular feast included traditional collard greens, which I am in LOVE with. They're a super food packed with good vitamins and are yummy enough I could eat a bowl and forget the rest. I thought I'd give y'all the recipe I came up with, as it was worth the small effort and so incredibly delicious.


 On a side note, Niki surprised me with flowers as a hostess gift(The girl's got manners too!). She bought me a lovely bouquet of daisies and they were so pretty I had to add them. I couldn't resist, I'm a sucker for daisies.


Damn Yankee's Attempt @ Collard Greens
2 pkgs prepared collards fresh (See even I cheat a little guys, I had a LOT to prepare. This took the guesswork out)
1 smoked ham hock
4-5 small russet potatoes peeled & 1/2 in cubes
1 lg sweet onion (Vidalia if in season, we're from GA!) julienned into 1/2 in strips
1/4 c minced garlic fresh or jarred
1 T Better Than Boullion Vegetable base
1 qt chicken stock
1-2 T Tony Chacherie's Cajun seasoning, I used the extra hot.

Instructions
Use a heavy bottom large stock pot, I'm guessing 12 quart or better. I simply added the potatoes, onion, garlic, chicken stock, boullion, ham hock, and seasoning together, warming it up enough to dissolve the boullion. Then I added the two bags of collards, set the heat to med-low/simmer, covered it, and crossed my fingers. I had no idea how long to simmer, just used common sense and cooked until fork tender, checking occasionally to stir. When the collards and potatoes are tender, that's it. Voila! Collard greens so yummy there were hardly leftovers. Next up, turnip greens.

Every time I'm home it gets harder to leave. I love my little world. The safety, the feeling of "home", the sanctity of family, the holidays spent, the laughter, and the great joy surrounds us like champagne bubbles in your nose. It's a happy place that keeps me sane in this world of hustle and bustle, fast paced craziness, and just in time freight. Every day my life gets a little busier, with more demands on my time, more work to put out, bigger goals to attain, and larger dreams to chase. I'm no different than any of you, no matter where you come from or what you do for a living. Just remember folks, as busy as we all are, some things should never be taken for granted. Take the time to heal your spirit with adequate time with the people you love. Tell them just how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them. Dorothy had it right, there's no place like home.

So until next time folks, while you're out there "just a-gettin' it" remember to eat well, laugh often, be you, and be free.

I love you ALL.

gypsy gourmet













































































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