Many of my precious Thanksgiving cacti are struggling. Some plants are shriveled from lack of water, many are misshapen from not being turned regularly, a few are contorted from lack of pruning/purging, some are discolored from wrong minerals or wrong lighting. There are even a few which have no buds at this late date.
These are all signs of a bad mama. I have been ‘bad busy’ again. I also have too many green babies. I will be having a Plant Purge Party in the spring. I cannot keep up with the needs of so many plants. ‘Old Woman in a Shoe’ syndrome will not do!
I did go through most of the care steps as usual, but I have not been attentive. I treated them all the same, instead of noticing the needs of each. They should have been watered more frequently and thoroughly. I missed some feedings. Neglect is apparent to the trained eye. The blooms are still beautiful, but the plants have signs of struggling.
No worries. I have started a rehab program…for the plants. Each is getting time in the kitchen to be purged and watered. I know it is not the best time to do this, but we only have now. So I am doing it now. Better late than later.
My friend Joyce and I met for lunch at a charming restaurant in Statesville named Bristol. I ordered a side of collards. Then I ordered a second helping to share. The owner was nice enough to briefly outline her method of cooking collards.
This has lead to several experiments in my tiny kitchen. Each experiment has yielded better results than the last. I have tweaked the steps a bit each time. All versions were tasty, but this is the best so far. I told Joyce I would share the results on my blog
STEP ONE: Fry bacon in the big pot you plan to cook the collards in. (One pot is easier to clean than two.)
STEP TWO: Finely chop half an onion.
STEP THREE: Take out the bacon but leave in the grease. Let the grease cool. Saute’ the onion in the bacon grease.
STEP FOUR: Cut up washed collard leaves. I use scissors and remove the main stem/midrib of each leaf. (Compost these please.)
STEP FIVE: Cool the onions. Add some beef broth and cut collards into the pan. Use enough broth to halfway cover the collards.
STEP SIX: Slow cook on low. Periodically stir and smash the leaves down under the liquid.
STEP SEVEN: After a few hours, add teaspoons of cayenne pepper and tablespoons of molasses. Taste after two.
STEP EIGHT: Stir and simmer until leaves are limp and no longer bright green. Crumble the cooked bacon into the pot. Serve in bowls with the liquid. You will want to drink this pot-liquor. It is full of vitamins.
The secrets to the ‘Bristol’ recipe are the bacon grease, the cayenne pepper and the molasses. This combo made me lick my hot, slick lips in public. Good thing we were at an outside table.