There is something amazing about being able to go to your backyard and pick dinner. Literally. We got to do that tonight with our greens that we planted two months ago. It’s kind of weird to say that since June will be over tomorrow evening, but it’s the truth. Before leaving for Malawi, my turnip greens weren’t even bushy yet. However, when I came home, they were fully formed. It was such a rapid growth that Mr. Houseful thought that they were weeds. My mustards were all flat leaves, and hadn’t started getting their familiar curly edges yet. I’m not sure if I was anticipating coming back home to a garden that seemed to burst from the seams, but I was excited at what greeted me when I did get here.
This is how my mustard greens looked when I got back into the country. It’s amazing how they look at the moment. Well, after we’ve harvested them now, they don’t look so hot, but they are going to grow more leaves, so I’m not worried about that just yet. I mean, I’m practically a master gardener after watching a ton of YouTube videos and whatnot.
Just look at those mustards! They are so beautifully curly and perfect for picking! These were easier to pick than the turnip greens. The nasty cabbage worm loved being in those as well. In the form of some white fuzzy caterpillar. After we picked them, and while we were cleaning them (thoroughly I might add) a couple of rogue caterpillars ended up in the sink. I tell you, gardening leafy green vegetables isn’t for the faint of heart. Remember my post Farming Is Hard, Yo! Yeah. That.
The BEST part of picking from your backyard garden is eating. We cooked up the greens this evening for dinner, and while I don’t have a finished plate to show you – they disappeared too fast, I DO have a recipe! We cleaned several times before even thinking about cooking, and by cleaning, I mean, filling a sink up with cold water – do NOT use hot as you will wilt your greens – and a bit of blue dawn soap. Yes, I clean my greens with a bit of soap. It helps to get those cabbage worms and any other bugs out of their hiding places, and makes me feel better about not eating another helping of protein.
These are the freshly picked and washed greens. You can store them after cleaning for up to five days in the refrigerator. You just need to make sure that they are wrapped in a wet paper towel so that they don’t go yellow on you.
To start my greens I always start with a smoked meat. Usually turkey tails, but you can use ham hocks, smoked turkey, smoked bacon, anything that your heart desires. I saute a medium-sized onion and a couple of cloves of freshly minced garlic in butter (yes, butter) before adding the smoked meat to pull out flavor. After the meat has had a chance to simmer a bit, I add two cups of water. You don’t want to add too much water because the greens are going to let off quite a bit. This is an 8 quart dutch oven that I’m using.
After the flavor of the garlic, onion and meat have had a chance to marry, I add the greens. Alternating between mustards and turnips until the pot is full. In the picture above, it looks like there are too many greens for the pot, but trust me, after wilting down, these didn’t even fill half of the pot. I cooked them on a medium simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, and while they were cooking, I prepared a batch of skillet cornbread. I’m going to save that recipe for another post, so that I can get great photos for you. Tomorrow, we’ll probably have the cabbage that I pulled out of the garden before the cruddy worms ate too much of it.
Do you cook often from your garden? Link up with me, so that I can see!