Turnip and Mustard Greens

MUSTARD GREENS PATCH
MUSTARD GREENS PATCH

 

My brother Hilton has talked about turnip greens in his blog, using a down-home recipe from our Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. Since I’m fixing a “mess o’ greens” today out of my garden, I thought you might enjoy reading a little blurb from our dad that I happened to find the other day. It comes from a little cookbook he and Mother were putting together for their church folk. Here it is in his words.

Turnip greens were what mama used to serve with southern smothered fried chicken, fluffy white rice, and creamy chicken gravy. (Sometimes she served collard greens, but we didn’t like them so well.)

When she cooked turnip greens, she’d have one of us children run out to the garden and bring in about 4 pounds of young turnips and their green tops. These were well washed and drained to remove the red Mississippi sand.

Then she boiled ¼ piece of salt pork (chopped up) in a quart of water for 15 minutes, and added the turnip greens, a pot of hot pepper, which she always kept growing in a pot on our front porch, and slowly boiled all together an hour and a half more. (The younger greens cook quicker than more mature greens, so take them off the stove when tender.)

Before serving, she cut the greens a few times across with a paring knife, before spooning into a bowl to go to the table. This served six of us.

Pepper sauce (hot red peppers soaked in vinegar in small bottles for a few weeks) is good poured on turnip greens for an extra flavor.

Lucy’s note: I happen to love a combination of collards and mustards or turnips, but perhaps collards are a more acquired taste than mustards, although some people don’t like the peppery taste of either one. I also love to make beet greens. When I harvest my beets, I use the greens that same day, and save the beets for the following day. In the South, they have a special kind of pepper sauce bottle that sits on every table, not only at home, but also in restaurants. I can’t eat turnip greens without it.

I have one more comment on the difference between Hilton’s greens and Daddy’s recipe I give here. Our dad grew up in a poor preacher’s home in rural Mississippi. While Hilton and I might put ham hocks or bacon in our greens, I suspect that Daddy’s family could barely afford to find a little piece of salt pork. The bottom line is that you start with the greens and add whatever kind of smoky meat you happen to have on hand.

How I fixed my greens today:
I put half a rasher of bacon (cut in large pieces) and my mess o’ greens (cut in large pieces) into a large skillet and let it cook. About 15 minutes before it was ready, I cut up a small red potato and added it to the mix. I sat down and ate the entire thing all by myself for lunch! I’m still reeling from the wonderful flavor! After that pig-out, it’s time for a nap, I think.

SKILLET OF GREENS AND BACON
SKILLET OF GREENS AND BACON

 

If you are growing any kind of greens, or if you pick up a “mess” at your local farmers’ market or grocery store, you might try any of these three ways of fixing them.

A hui hou!

Happy Father’s Day!

AL JONES WITH UKELELE
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AL JONES WITH UKELELE

 

Today, this post is to honor the memory of my own father who would have been 100 years old this July, and he died 40 years ago this fall at the young age of 60, an early recipient of open heart surgery.

He was an artist – see one of his pen and ink drawings at the end of my brother’s post on London. I have many more of his that are done in the same style.

He was a musician – he accompanied my mother on piano while she played violin. Besides that, he was an accomplished pianist and had a beautiful Welsh voice. He gave up much of his own piano playing time in order to let me practice. The above picture shows him in his teens, playing ukulele. I still have that very same uke.

He was a pastor – a United Methodist minister and still in active ministry when he died. I don’t think that’s the reason I went into the ministry, but it certainly was in my “blood.” His father before him was also a pastor, in true “circuit rider” tradition, shown here with his horse and saddlebags heading out to preach.

M.R. JONES, CIRCUIT RIDER
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M.R. JONES, CIRCUIT RIDER

 

And he was a jokester. One of the many practical jokes he played on some of the old ladies in the church was with a woman who was always picking lint off the shoulder of his suit. One Sunday, he put a spool of thread in his pocket and fixed one end of the thread on his sleeve. Sure enough, she started to pull the thread off, and it kept coming and coming and coming. I’m not sure it cured her, but we had a laugh over that.

I called him “Daddy,” a truly Southern term of endearment, and since he was from the Deep South (Mississippi), it was an appropriate title for him.

Here are a few of my gardening projects that he would appreciate. So many of the foods and flowers I grow are ones that are reminiscent of Mississippi –Pole Beans, for example, and so much more.

I would say that at the top of the list I’d find peanuts! I remember these from the home of my Grandpa Jones (above). He always grew the best peanuts right in his front yard. Here are mine just starting to sprout.

PEANUTS SPROUTING
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PEANUTS SPROUTING

 

In the South, we ate peanuts roasted or boiled or raw, but my favorite way was raw from his stash of peanuts that were hanging up to dry, like these few I harvested here.

DRYING PEANUTS
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DRYING PEANUTS

 

I grew up eating mustards and collards. I still grow as many as I can, and eat them often. So delicious!

MUSTARDS AND COLLARDS
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MUSTARDS AND COLLARDS

 

Then of course, there are the figs! The ones in the South were so sweet and juicy. The two I harvested from this little tree last year were just like I remembered. Looks like I’ll get more than two this year.

WHITE FIGS
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WHITE FIGS

 

I can’t forget the gardenias that are synonymous with the South. In my early marriage (1950s) there was a gardenia bush as tall as the roof by my kitchen door in Jackson, Mississippi. Daddy loved gardenias, too, and sometimes wore one in the lapel of his suit on Sunday morning. So far, I haven’t had much luck in growing them here, but I’ve had a couple blooms show up.

GARDENIA
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GARDENIA

 

With all his talent and humor, not to mention the white hair, I think it’s fairly obvious that this man was the father of my brother and me!

AL JONES-1964
AL JONES-1964

 

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in the world! To quote an old cliché, “If it wasn’t for you, the rest of us wouldn’t be here.”

A hui hou!