When I was in Oregon visiting my friend Carol F. I ate like a truck driver, a stevedore. The weather was cooler and Carol’s husband Spike cooked up thick burgers on the grill — with Safeway meat, mind you — and I ate them for three days straight: hot for dinner and cold for the next two lunches with tapenade and homemade bread-and- butter pickles and fresh tomato slices. When I wasn’t eating burgers I was eating egg and potato frittata with green chile and bacon and cheese. Seriously. Except for Sunday night when we went out and I ate a chile relleno and refried beans and chips and green salsa and a fish-bowl-sized margarita on the rocks with salt. Fortunately, I took a few strolls around the yard, inspecting the vegetables and apples and grapes and berries, went up and down the stairs several times and walked way out of my way at the convention center to get a latte from the evil Starbucks (the only decent coffee option there). Monday night we had rainbow chard and baked delicata squash and grilled chicken, but I had a small dish of boysenberry apple crisp for dessert and before dinner a neighbor brought us a warm loaf of whole-grain bread with molasses, corn meal, wheat and I don’t know what-all else and I ate that with Carol’s homemade boysenberry jam. Plus, I foraged that afternoon while I was in the yard, eating raspberries and boysenberries off the vines and blue-purple grapes.
And when we weren’t eating we were talking about food: Spike makes Shaker lemon pie and gingersnaps and biscuits and pumpkin pie with bourbon, any of which I would be happy to eat at least once. Saturday breakfast was a tough call: I was given a choice between green chile frittata and pancakes with homemade boysenberry syrup. Which would you choose? My addiction to green chile won out, but part of me mourns the pancakes I didn’t eat.
We talked about our food likes and dislikes. Spike drinks gin and the only white thing I will drink besides milk is tequila. He likes bourbon. I like Scotch, Laphroaig single malt Scotch, to be precise, and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, with or without the cream and sugar and coffee, and dark rum and good-quality brandy. Not that I consume any of those things often, but I like them all. We both like hot sauce and various chile pepper and fruit combinations.
My excuse to visit Carol and Spike was the Wordstock literary festival. When I was there I took a break from food projects and listened to a lot of people read from their new books, but I did pick up a copy of A Homemade Life by Orangette‘s Molly Wizenberg and I have to say it is a charming book, full of things I will cook and a few things I won’t. The writing is lovely.
When Carol cooked the chard on Monday night she started with garlic, oil and washed and trimmed chard. We talked about eating it with vinegar, but she had some green olive tapenade with sun-dried tomatoes and wondered if it might be good. I said yes. I thought I was going to eat it just like that and then Spike said it would be good with Cholula. I had never heard of Cholula, a Mexican hot sauce from Jalisco, which apparently can be got at Safeway — look for the glass bottle with the wooden stopper. I put three large drops on my plate next to the greens.
It was delicious. The next time I get to Safeway I am buying myself a bottle of Cholula for eating with cooked greens.
Now, tapenade. Tapenade is not something I tend to have on hand unless it has been recently featured at Grocery Outlet, but I usually have Spanish olives and kalamatas. I dry my own tomatoes during tomato season and don’t usually run out until about March. So I imagine what I will do is finely chop some Spanish olives and leave some dried tomatoes to soak with them for a bit while I wash and chop my chard,
Without further ado, another stellar greens recipe,
Wash 1 bunch chard (or beet greens or turnip greens or spinach — you get the idea, don’t you?)
Trim stem ends and separate leaves from stems.
Chop the stems first while you heat a little olive oil in a skillet (You’ll need a lid later). Then chop the leaves into ribbons.
To the oil, add the chopped stems and some minced or pressed garlic to taste (I can’t tell you how much garlic Carol used. I wasn’t paying attention — two cloves? Three? Four? You know if you like garlic or not — trust yourself).
After a minute or two, add the chard ribbons to the skillet with any water clinging to them and put a lid on it. Cook until done — maybe three to five minutes.
Add 2 Tbsp green olive tapenade or chopped green olives mixed with sun-dried tomatoes.
Serve with Cholula or your favorite bottled pepper sauce.
How good was this chard? After I had firsts, I went back to the kitchen to get a little more and had to scrape the pan to get a tablespoonful. How nice that chard is in season. How wonderful that you can use other greens for this recipe. Enjoy.
Paintings Note: I decided not to paint chard so soon after painting beet greens, so instead I offer you one partly imaginary view of Spike and Carol’s yard and two partly imaginary views of their kitchen. Many of the objects and animals depicted are real, but I used artistic license. Spike would like you to know that the black chicken on the hay bale is named “Batman” — at least that’s what he told me.
If you want some of Spike’s or Carol’s recipes, make some noise in the Comment section and I’ll bug Carol to write you a blog post. I’ll be eating lots of greens with cumin and greens with tapenade because today I got beet greens, arugula and Russian kale!