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Langston Hughes, Gardening In Kansas

Collard Greens With Dumplings, recipe below

Born in 1902, Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and several other Midwestern communities at the turn of the century. In his autobiography he talks about his aunt and uncle Reed who kept a family garden stocked with among other items collard greens, peas, corn, and apples. Hughes recalled that his aunt cooked wonderful “greens with corn dumplings” along with “fresh peas and young onions right out of the garden,” he says. “There were hoe-cake, and sorghum molasses, and apple dumplings with butter sauce.” You can purchase many of the produce plants mentioned here as organic and heirloom starter plants for your family garden for between $3.00 and $4.00 dollars. Here is a Kansas greens with corn dumpling recipe that goes well with this story.

Collard Green Recipe
1 bunch of greens: collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, or chard
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of your stock
Liquid smoke or smoked paprika

Wash the collards good in plenty of slightly salted water, strip the leaves off the steams, discard the steams and cut the greens into small pieces. Start out with 3 bunches which will serve 6 people, they are big but they cook down like spinach. I steam mine in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes until the fibrous leaves are easy to eat. Steaming preserves the water soluble vitamins that are killed when you just boil the greens down like most of my ancestors have done for years. Remove the collards from the pressure cooker and save the water to make the pot-licker or stock. Season the water with 3 cubes of vegetable bullion, dried bay leaf, dried red pepper flakes, little vinegar, and some honey. Had some smoked paprika or a little liquid smoke which most grocery stores sell if you like that smoked meat flavor (the traditional recipe calls for a smoked ham hock or a hunk of smoked fat back). The pot-licker is full of vitamins and great seasoning for the greens Sauté the steamed greens with chopped onions and garlic in olive oil with your preferred seasonings like pepper, salt, etc. Add sautéed greens to the pot-licker and let them marinade for 30 or more minutes.

Corn Dumplings Recipe
1 cup of organic white or yellow, fine or medium cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup hot pot-licker
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped scallions or onion (optional)
Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir in pot-licker, a little at a time, to make smooth batter that is stiff enough to hold together. Vigorously stir in the egg, then fold in the scallions or onions. Let the batter rest for a few minutes. Makes about 20 dumplings.

Traditional Stock
6 pieces of vegan or regular bacon 10 cups water 2 vegetable bullion cups. In a pressure cooker, place the bacon and cover with the water. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. You should have about 8 cups of stock. Drop the batter by the teaspoonful into the simmering stock. Cover the pot and cook until the dumplings are firm and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Serve with greens and hot sauce.

Gardening Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Gardening

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