collards…for the last time (at least while we’re in the hotel)

I whipped up a pretty snazzy dinner (if I do say so myself) last night for us.

I roasted salmon (in the toaster oven!) with salmon seasoning, made Southern-style collards (Wegman’s was out of smoked ham hocks, so I bought a smoked ham steak and cut it up) and warmed some of Great Harvest’s Rosemary and Olive bread for dipping.

We finished off our last bottle of what we call the “blue wine.”  It’s a German Riesling we found at the Class Six on base in Ohio.  They stopped carrying it shortly before we left; I’ll have to look for it here.  It’s a very fruity, very sweet, crisp wine we both like.  I don’t prefer to drink rieslings with dinner (too sweet), but Andrew loves them, and since there are only two of us and we don’t drink wine with dinner that often, it’s slim pickins’ sometimes.  Whatever is open is what we get.  Interestingly enough, the name of the wine is “Burg (which means “castle” in German) Layer.”  Isn’t that funny?  It’s a sign, I just know it.

This was the third time in about two weeks I’ve made collards.  I bought them at the farmer’s market and they came two per bundle.  All I can say is–a bundle is BIG.  It took up half a shelf in our small fridge for days.  I used it first to make Cuisine at Home’s “Succotash Fried Rice,” which is a southern take on traditional fried rice.  Instead of peas and carrots and scallions, it has lima beans, red pepper, onion and tabasco.  I served that with pan-fried cod.  Andrew liked the rice–a victory!  Then, I sauteed some up in a little chicken stock with a splash of vinegar at the end and served that with Caribbean Jerk chicken.  The chicken was pretty spicy and the collards were only OK; Andrew is not a huge fan.  OK, he’s not really a fan at all.

Let’s just saw he’s been whining and complaining for the last week about eating collards.

So, last night, I decided that I needed to make collards “for real.”  As in, the Southern-style, sweet, hammy, salty version.  (Andrew likes to say I’m from the South since I’ve lived in a bunch of Southern states a few times and spent almost all my life south of the Mason Dixon line–a stark contrast to his lifetime spent in snowy western New York.)  As I said, Wegman’s was out of ham hocks when I went the other day, so I made do with a cut-up ham steak and threw it and the remaining chopped collards into a pot to simmer for about an hour.  I used Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Salmon Seasoning for the fish, wrapped it in foil and roasted it for about 30 minutes.  I LOVE that salmon seasoning.  While I enjoy making much of what I use from scratch, it’s great in a pinch and gives salmon what I call a “steak house flavor.”  Not that it tastes like steak; it just reminds me of the kind of thing you could get on the menu at a nice restaurant–something complex and flavorful that I couldn’t necessarily recreate at home easily.

ANYWAY…long story short, Andrew ended the meal saying, “Those collards weren’t too bad.”  Another victory!

The only downside to cooking in the hotel?  There is absolutely NO ventilation, which means the smell of whatever I make lingers.  A lot.  Currently we’re getting sweet/smoky/fishy wiffs every time we enter the place after being gone for awhile.  If only I could bake a pie in here…

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