Greens don’t need soap and perfume

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Eureka Columnist

As children, we were expected to eat what mama had cooked – no exceptions.

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It didn’t matter if you didn’t like it, you at least had to have a spoonful and try it. Many times, the smell alone would make me not want to eat that particular item – especially turnip greens and cabbage.

We didn’t “eat out” or order take out, we cooked our meals. I didn’t realize the work and labor involved in raising, harvesting and preparing such items. I just knew I didn’t like them.

One Saturday morning daddy woke us early, and told us to wash the big bag of turnip greens.  He said to wash them really well, and make sure no dirt or bugs were left on the leaves. Who knew you could stuff so many leaves in one bag? It felt like a mountain of leaves tumbled out of that bag.

We had filled the sink with water, and began washing. I thought that we weren’t really cleaning them, so I added a squirt of dishwashing liquid to the water. That should do the trick. We dipped and swished, and decided they were clean. We placed them in the big pot and added water and salt and the bacon he had left. I turned on the stove and went about my morning chores.

About 30 minutes later the aroma began to waft through the house. I tried to ignore it, but it was just too strong. I decided I could fix the smell by adding a spoon of mam’s perfume – I loved that scent – so it had to help.  The aroma I created was something a skunk would envy. It was terrible. Never did I realize that the taste would also be affected.

Daddy and mama came in  for lunch  and asked what that terrible odor was. I just said it had to be the greens. Daddy kept saying how much he was looking forward to the first bite of those greens, and I didn’t say a word. He fixed his plate, sat down and took the first bite. He immediately began to cough and spit the bite into his napkin.

He said the greens tasted like soap and perfume. What happened?

I sheepishly explained what I had washed them with, and why I tried to make them smell better.  At first, he was a little angry, but then he laughed, and took the whole pot and dumped them outside.

That was one chore he never asked me to do again.

Now,  I’m very thankful for gardens and turnip greens and cabbage. My taste buds have matured, and I love to eat all the vegetables I used to think were terrible. My husband grows broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, okra, squash and potatoes.

I enjoy all of these, and recently began eating brussel sprouts, after a friend told me how she prepared them. So it is true that how you prepare and cook anything is the key to a good tasting meal.

I anticipate the taste of the first fresh tomato every season and I never tire of eating them. If we have an abundance, I share with family and friends, and can the others. I make salsa and tomato juice and chopped tomatoes. I can use them when making soup in the winter and the fresh tomato taste always makes it better.

There is a great sense of satisfaction watching a garden grow and “putting up” our bounty.  The summer garden is just about done, but we hope to have a fall crop. I’m very thankful for each harvest.

Gardening has become popular again, for many reasons, and I hope you try growing something yourself. You can raise some really good tomatoes in flower pots, or in a small space. It is a great learning tool for children, and my grands were always excited to see the first vegetable grow – theirs were green beans.  A couple little plants thought they were mighty, producing a bushel basket full of tasty beans.

Somehow, anything you grow yourself always tastes better. Just remember don’t spoil the greens with soap and perfume.  Enjoy the last taste of summer – fall is just ahead – and be thankful for bountiful blessings.