Living in the Bay Area is amazing but I miss North Carolina. I was born and raised in North Carolina and moved to the Bay Area after college. The Bay Area has some of the best and most diverse food in the world, but to to remedy homesickness I make southern food. There’s nothing more comforting than fried chicken in my book.
I’m more of Southern chef now that I live in California than I ever was in NC. I never made cornbread or fried chicken when I was living in back home. (Granted, I didn’t do much cooking at all in college.) In NC, southern food is the norm; if anything, it’s harder to avoid than find. Here in the Bay Area it’s quite the opposite. Obviously, it’s not the South but there are a lot of us here! You would think it would be easier to find a good buttermilk biscuit in this town. Sheesh.
When I picked up my CSA box this week I was excited to see that collard greens were included. Then I noticed the potatoes and remember that I had some chicken in the fridge and I knew then what must be done… fried chicken, with collard greens, and mashed potatoes! Heck yes!
Did I mention I love fried chicken? Because I L-O-V-E fried chicken. After being a vegetarian for almost six years it was fried chicken that brought me back. I’m still learning how to fry chicken but I must say this was a pretty delicious attempt. The mash potatoes were creamy and soothing and the collards were the perfect complement. It tasted like home. My southern boy was happy too; he didn’t stop smiling the whole way through dinner.
What food reminds you of home?
I recently became a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture) project with Full Belly Farms. Every week you receive a box of fresh, organic fruits and veggies and in turn you are supporting local farmers. My first produce box came this week and I was so excited! I didn’t know what the box contained and after picking it up at the farmer’s market I rushed home to see what was inside. This week’s box contained butternut squash, celery root, leeks, red russian kale, oranges, cabbage, and walnuts. I couldn’t be more pleased. It was a great mix of old favorites and new (to me) veggies. I have to say, I’m hooked. The produce is delicious, it mixes up my diet, and you get that tingly (and slightly self-righteous) I-just-did-good-for-the-earth feeling for eating organic and local.
I’ve already dug in and ate much of what the box contained. So far, my favorite thing was the red russian kale. I cooked it with leeks, walnuts, and some golden raisins I had in the pantry. It was a delicious blend of sweet and savory. Here is the recipe in case you want to try it for yourself.
Red Russian Kale with Walnuts & Golden Raisins
- 1 bundle of Red Russian Kale
- 2 leeks
- 1/3 cup chopped golden raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste.
- Chop the the kale stems, garlic and leeks and sauté in 1 tbs. of olive oil for 5 minutes.
- Add the walnuts and raisins and cook for a few more minutes.
- Reduce heat and add the leaves of the kale and a few tablespoons of water and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cover and steam for about five minutes.
- Stir, cover, and repeat until the leaves are tender but not mushy.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. By the way, if anyone out there has a good recipe for celery root or butternut squash, please let me know! This is the first opportunity I’ve had to cook celery root and I only have limited experience cooking with butternut squash, so I need some ideas. Be well and have a wonderful weekend!