Tuesday, August 12, 2014

International Potluck Blogfest and the Philosophy of Cooking

Today is the International Potluck blogfest! Hop around the blogs, and work up an appetite for lunch or dinner or brunch or whatever. It's hosted by Lexa Cain, Beth Fred, and Medeia Sharif. You can win prizes, I guess. More importantly, food and people!
Now this has got me thinking about reading and eating. The only book I have that has food in it is "The Fine Art of Chinese Cooking" but I can't for the life of me tell you any of the recipes in that book. There's a lot of MSG because it was written in the 60's. I just the love the introduction to that book, because the book is less of how-to cook and more about the philosophy, art, and mindset of cooking. You know what, I'm gonna talk about this book, then just give a recipe for Gomen, an Ethiopian collard green dish.
I've spent a lot of time in used book stores. Used books are cheap, good, and became plentiful when people started buying e-readers. Used books stores have their own unique character. There's the Book Barn near me in West Chester, PA. It's a four floor used book store build from an old barn, and even though it has cats roaming around, they keep it clean and it doesn't stink like cat pee. The one in my hometown of Bellows Falls, VT is just stacks and piles of books. It's so awesome because of it's lack of organization. I say all this, because their are always books you will find in a book store, it seems. This is one of them.
Cooking is not something you do to eat, it claims. Cooking and eating is an exercise to be enjoyed by all the senses. Dr. Lee Su Jan outlines the ideas of a dish having crunch, sweet, sour, heat, and color. The idea of this book was to introduce Chinese cooking to an American audience in 1963, knowing that they wouldn't have the ingredients for traditional Chinese cooking, so he sticks to the basic ingredients and thoughts and substitutes when he can. He quotes Chinese philosophers on the subject of cooking. According to the book, Chinese scholars always approached the subject of cooking as a very important thing, and even Confucius had a book on the subject. All in all, it's great book to change how you look at cooking. Pick it up for cheap at abebooks.
OK, with a mind set of a cooking philosopher, it's time for gomen. Traditional southern Collard Greens always seemed silly. You take a fresh vegetable and cook it in pork fat. The only way to get people interested in kale and it's cousin Collards is to cook it in bacon. Surprised the internet hasn't picked up on it.
  • 1 pound collard greens - rinsed, trimmed and chopped 
  • 2 cups water 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions 8 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced green bell pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  1. Place chopped collard greens in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until collards are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, but reserve the cooking water. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked collards, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the reserved cooking water. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-high heat until liquid is nearly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the green pepper slices, lemon juice, salt, turmeric, paprika, allspice, and ginger root. Cook until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.
This stuff is frickin' delicious, is full of hot, spicy flavor, looks great and has plenty of color. Your supposed to eat it with Injera, which is this fermented flat bread that serves as a plate and eating utensils.  You just pick pieces of bread off, then use it to pick up the food. Not only does this dish have flavor, and look good, but it's fun to eat! Finger food for the win!
Have you noticed the ads? Did you know if you click them, 30% goes to animal shelters? That means for every $100, $30 goes to stuff like blankets and medicine and such. I don't like ads myself, but they can be a force of good.  


  1. Pork fat and collards - those are plentiful here in the South!

  2. Totally yummy! I love ginger (and Chinese food) but I've never cooked with it. I'm either a coward or just lazy. lol I really want to taste this great recipe though, and I love the part about eating it with bread - we use pita for that in the Middle East. Thanks for participating in the bloghop!

  3. Hi, Samuel,
    I haven't ever had collard, since it isn't grown here.
    I do love Chinese food though. Now that is accessible.

    1. Collard and kale are the same family, and one can be easily substituted for the other. There is another kale that goes by a ton of different names (Italian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Black Kale, Lacinato) that can be used as well. Any edible leaf in the Brassica family should work.

  4. I love collards, kale and chard in the summer. I have developed some good recipes, but I'll have to try this one!

  5. Ooooo, I like the sound of the various flavors. Ginger is a favorite. I'll have to try this.

  6. I love Chinese food.

    I prefer my greens without any animal fat. I've had collard greens a few times.

  7. Sound healthy! Collard greens are full of A and D or is that A to Z? Sorry, I'm busy hopping today, so don't expect clarity while I do that. Thanks for stopping by The Write Game to try my grasshoppers.

  8. I want Chinese for dinner now. Thanks.

  9. I've never eaten collard greens before, but Chinese is always good.

  10. Sounds delicious. And now I want to order Chinese :)

  11. Pork fat makes all things taste good! LOL I do love Chinese food.

  12. Love Chinese.. this recipe sounds so good.

  13. Hey, this recipe has an interesting mix of seasoning. I think I will try it - the produce stands are bursting with kale and greens! Thanks, Sam!