Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mustard Greens

Cheesy bean and rice burrito with sides of collard greens with mixed vegetables and grapes.

One of my favorite kinds of places in the entire world are farmer's markets. A close second are the produce sections in the grocery store. I love to skip through the aisles flitting from one bin to another to admire all of the fresh food. I constantly get distracted and forget what vegetable I had originally intended to buy and, if I'm not careful, I will end up bringing strange fruits and vegetables to the check out counter and then make the check out take twice as long because I am too busy telling the cashier how I am going to cook it when I get home.

SO

If this is the case at the grocery store... imagine me at the farmers market.

Last Saturday I went with my roommate and another co-worker to the local farmer's market here in Pensacola. I had a blast! There is so much to see at this market. People will come all the way from Alabama just to set up here in Pensacola. There are a lot of craft like tables that sell things such as homemade clothes, toiletries, jewelry, games, yard decorations, household items, pottery - just about anything you can think of. The food tables are equally diverse. There are baked goods, fresh produce, refreshing drinks, snacks, jams, jellies, kettle corn, honey, preserved meat, fresh meat, different grains... There is also a lot of music there. A bluegrass band comes every week along with several solo musicians. People will play guitar, piano, banjo, violin, drums, and even foreign instruments that I don't recognize. This market is the place to be.

When we went on Saturday I set a budget for myself to make sure I wouldn't buy too much food. I am living on my own now in a residence hall on campus at the University of West Florida. I have always shopped for our large family so I have to be very diligent to change my shopping habits. There was a huge bunch of collard greens that I desperately wanted to buy. It's a really good deal and there is a lot of food there. Unfortunately though, that is the problem. There is a lot of food there. I forced myself away from the collards and visited the other tables. Eventually I ran across a table filled with greens other than collards. They were about the same price as the collard greens but at least this time there wasn't so much. Even when decreasing the amount of food and maintaining the same price it is still cheaper than the grocery store so I decided to buy a bag full of mustard greens. With my greens in hand I happily skipped up to my companions and announced enthusiastically "I bought mustard greens!" Of course they looked at me like I was crazy and we all laughed.

But that's not even the best part. I had never eaten mustard greens before! when my friends found out that I had never eaten mustard greens they laughed even more. Who cares though? I was sure that I would like them and was determined to try them out. As soon as I possibly could I tried to cook with them.

My first experiment was in a burrito. I had cooked up some leftovers and mixed them all together and thrown it inside the tortilla shell. On top I put a couple of leaves of fresh mustard greens. With a disproportional amount of glee I bit into my burrito and was horribly disappointed. The mustard greens were strange and spicy! For a few days after that I avoided my greens and tried to convince myself not to feel guilty for buying something I didn't like. Of course it didn't work and the feeling only worsened when I began to think about how they were sitting in the refrigerator drying out and going bad and being wasted. After all, just the week before that I had literally emptied out my change purse and counted my money just so I could go grocery shopping!

Tonight I couldn't stand it any longer. I went to my refrigerator and pulled out the dreaded mustard greens. I made another burrito but was smart this time and didn't put the greens in it. Instead, I cooked it in some butter and fresh garlic along with some frozen mixed vegetables. When I sat down tonight I gingerly took a bite of my vegetables and once again shocked my taste buds. It was actually good this time! These were some of the most delicious vegetables I have ever eaten! I am so glad that I was adventurous and bought these mustard greens. I am also really glad that I was both guilty and brave and ate them again after my first bad experience. I guess mustard greens just have to be cooked properly.

Moral of the story...

If you have an insatiable desire to buy fresh food and are constantly getting yourself into trouble with recipe duds or even food that is downright disgusting, never give up! Something good will come of your insane infatuation with vegetables eventually.

Yes.

That is exactly what you should come away from this story with.

Have a good week! Stay safe at the farmer's markets! Buy with caution and be prepared for an adventure.

-Elise

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