Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Collard Greens Recipe

You all have been asking for years for this, and I'm finally going to deliver!
Ma Mary's Americanized Collard Greens


1 bunch of collard greens

1 1/2 large yellow onions

6-10 cloves of garlic, pressed

3/4-1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 large chicken bouillon cube (prefer Maggi)

2-3 Habanero peppers

Serve on a 'Liberian mound' of rice!

Optional: Meat is optional. I usually use about 1 pound of beef stew meat, but you can add chicken or fish as well. I use kitchen scissors and cut the stew meat into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with italian seasoning and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil in a non-stick skillet and over medium heat, cook the meat until it’s almost done. You can add onion and garlic too. (If you want a very spicy dish, cut the top off of a Habanero pepper and add it to the oil first. Let it infuse the oil for a few minutes before adding the meat.)

Preparing the collard greens is the most time-consuming part of the process. Start by cutting off the stem ends. I cut off up to where the base of the leaf starts. The easiest way to clean the greens is to clean your sink, fill it up with the leaves and water and start rinsing. It takes some ‘swishing’ to knock the grit out of the leaf veins. After the leaves are washed, you are going to chiffonade them. Stack the leaves on top of each other (10 leaves or so) and starting on one side, roll the leaves tightly (like a cigar), and then cut across the leaves to make fine ribbons. Liberians cut the leaves as thin as possible, plus they will cook quicker. Keep stacking, rolling and cutting until all of the leaves are all prepared.

Take your onions and cut in half. Then you will thinly slice the onion halves--think shoestring onions. Using a garlic press, press 6-8 garlic cloves. To prepare your peppers, cut off the top and take out the seeds. Quarter the pepper and set aside.

I use an 8-quart, non-stick, stock pot every time I cook my collard greens. Just make sure you have a good sized, non-stick ‘soup pot’ and you will be fine.

Over medium heat, put enough vegetable oil in your pot to cover the bottom on the pot and give alittle depth (3/4 to 1 cup). Heat the oil until it’s warm, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add 1 tsp. Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Mix together and cook a few more minutes. Add the greens in batches, and toss so they get covered in the oil. You might have to add some greens and let them wilt down before adding more. After all greens are added, let them cook for about 5 minutes. I prefer to use a good pair of tongs to keep tossing the greens. As the greens start to wilt down you will start adding water, 1 cup at a time. Add 1 cup of water and continue cooking, tossing every 10-15 minutes. After the greens are all wilted, reduce the heat to low and simmer. Crush one large, or two small, chicken bullion cubes and incorporate it, along with your Habanero peppers when you start to simmer the greens.

Keep an eye on the oil/water level--you don’t want it to go dry or the greens will burn. You can add another cup or two of water during the cooking time, which will steam the greens, and then you can toss less often. I prefer my greens to not be crunchy, so I usually cook them for at least an hour (most times closer to 2 hours). During this time I do a few taste tests and add more onion, garlic or spices to taste. Serve in a big bowl, over rice, and eat like a Liberian with a big spoon. You can also serve with fried chicken, pineapple or plantain/banana/root chips.

Helpful Habanero Hints:

This is your chance to control the heat. You can always add more spice, but you can’t take it away. Habaneros pack a punch...especially if you’re not acclimated to spicy food. The more seeds that you leave in the pepper, the spicier it will be. If you only prefer alittle spice, take out all of the seeds; the skin alone will spice the greens. I am very sensitive to hot peppers, so I always handle the peppers with a latex glove. Also, with collard greens, I use red and yellow peppers, so my family and friends can easily remove the peppers (totally not Liberian) if they can’t handle the spice. If you really want it spicy, you can add the pepper in the very beginning when you saute the onion and garlic.

Now you can enjoy a taste of Liberia in your own home!

P.S. I documented my cooking experience because I wanted to be one of those awesome food blogs for a day. But I've decided this post is too long for more photos...so maybe another time.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011! [Year in Review]


It’s been a pretty incredible year.

There have been highs.

And there have been lows.

It’s pretty crazy to think about where this past year has taken me.

The places I’ve been.

The people I’ve met.

The children who continue to change my life.

The ways I’ve seen God move.

It’s been unreal.

A Year in Review Through Blog Entries

In January, you all collected 854 pairs of undies from the Undies4Liberia pledge, and I returned to Liberia.

In February, there was alot of joy and I celebrated my 3 year anniversary of being in Liberia.

March was the beginning of the struggles: struggling to help people and struggling to find hope.

In April, my moment with Yamah made me realize why I’m in Liberia in the first place.

May had celebration, declaration and grief.

June gave more reason to celebrate, and an unexpected twist.

In July, we celebrated a new home, while I adjusted to America and settled into a two-month stint on my couch with a broken foot.

By August, I was sick and tired of being homebound, but just HAD to get to the ocean. The week at the beach freed me from my crutches, and gave me alittle sanity.

September was busy with the ORR staff retreat in Seattle and the missions conference ay my home church.

I spent half of October in Seattle experiencing the life of an ORR home office employee.

November landed me in Virginia for a week of fundraising and reconnecting with God. And, the Blankets4Liberia pledge began.

This December, I have enjoyed the holidays with my family and so many children experienced true joy this Christmas in Liberia!

It has been an unbelievable year! Just in making this post, I've noticed that the year began and ended with YOU! Your love, prayers, encouragement, support and your willingness to get involved in all of these silly pledges--you're the best! I can't thank you enough for all of it! I also noticed that, although this year was my most difficult in Liberia yet(deaths of 2 children, my 'month of darkness'--as I call it, malaria, a broken foot, coming home unexpectedly), there was also alot of JOY!

I wish you a very happy new year! I pray blessings on you this year. I hope that 2011 bring you unending love, a deeper understanding, an abundance of blessings and great, deep joy! I am looking forward to this year with great anticipation because things just keep getting better! I can't wait to share this next year, and this next chapter of my journey, with you!

“Weeping my last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 30:5