Collards with corn, walnuts and smoked gouda
Sometimes I’ll get a little speck of light in my vision, like a sunspot. And it will grow, and start to shimmer. It will take the shape of a laurel branch, climbing up the side of one eye. It will be jagged and flashing and electric. I can see around it, but I can’t see through it, and half of my vision will be obscured. Between me and the world is an odd animate light, sparkling and growing. It’s a little rip in the fabric, a small malfunction of the wiring. If this was a science fiction movie, it would be that moment when you’d say, “My god, I’m a robot! How long has this been true? Is anything real? Are my memories my memories? Have I actually felt all that I’ve felt and done all that I’ve done?” And then you’d look in the mirror and part of your skin would be torn off, and wires would be poking out, and sparks would start shooting all over the place! But it’s not a science fiction movie, and so it’s not the moment that I discover that I’m a robot, but that I’m a human, which is equally strange. Maybe more so. The frantic glow fades, eventually, but I always feel discombobulated for some time – sensitive to light, and wary of another episode. It’s hard to shake the strangeness of realizing that you’re a person, a bundle of thoughts and recollections and hopes and worries and tastes, looking out at the world through this strange, warm, vulnerable, incomprehensibly busy body. It feels so odd to discover that what I see
– the world around me, my vision – is who I am
. My impressions of the world, gathered from all of my senses, are more closely connected to my sense of myself than other people’s impressions of me, and this must be true for everybody! Each person is the world that they create around themselves as they experience life! It’s a weirdly freeing thought! (What is she going on about?) This morning I had the little shimmering light in my eye, but it never grew, it faded without incident. Obviously, it still left me feeling a little blurry, though, or I wouldn’t be rambling on in this ridiculous fashion!
Let’s talk about collards instead. This is all part of my fiendish plan to make collards as popular as kale. Why does kale get all of the attention? Just cause it’s frilly and pretty? Well, collards are delicious, too, despite their dull surface and flat leaves! I do love collards, they’re so nicely substantial. I mixed them, in this instance, with walnuts and corn, for a little crunchy sweetness, and smoked gouda, for a little melty smokiness. I also used pomegranate molasses, which is just enough strange and sweet to lively up this dish! This is a good side dish, but if you ate it with some rice (and beans, even) it would make a good meal.
Here’s the Ink Spots with When the Sun Goes Down (you don’t get sunspots any more!!)
1 large bunch collards, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch-sized piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t oregano
1 t basil
2 t pomegranate molasses (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup corn
1 t smoked paprika
1 T butter
juice of one lime
salt and plenty of pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated smoked gouda
Boil a large pot of salted water. Drop the collards in and boil for about half an hour, till they’re soft but still fairly bright. Drain. When cool enough to handle, chop quite finely.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and herbs. Stir and fry until the garlic starts to brown, about a minute. Add the pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika, and a few tablespoons of water. Stir for a second, then add the collards and corn. Stir and fry until everything is warm through, and the collards are nice and soft – five or ten minutes. Stir in the butter, lime, salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts and gouda on top and toss lightly.