Sunday, January 29, 2012

Southern comfort food - vegan style

Downtown Jacksonville - our new home
The past few weeks have been VERY hectic with our move from Tucson to Jacksonville, Florida. We made the trip in 2-1/2 days instead of three since we wanted more time to look for a place to stay. It was a good thing we did, because many of the places we wanted to see were closed for MLK day, so getting into Jacksonville on Saturday night and looking for places on Sunday worked out well. We found ONE place we both liked, but they had to do all the necessary credit and background checks, so we really didn't know if we would be accepted until Tuesday morning around 9. Since the movers were scheduled to deliver our stuff on Tuesday between 10 and noon, it was cutting it a little too close for my taste, but everything worked out well and we had the keys in our hands a whole 30 minutes before the movers arrived! Whew!

What our kitchen looked like after the movers left.
I posted some pictures of the new place on Facebook and will probably take a few more once we're completely finished unpacking - maybe show some before and after pictures. This move has been very difficult for me all the way around. When I moved to Tucson, I was making a conscious decision about where to live. This move was dictated by my place of employment and even though I know I made the right decision about employers, I have really mixed feelings about leaving Tucson. From the very first moment I stepped foot into Tucson, I felt it was home, so it was much harder to leave Tucson than when I left Reading - to the best of my recollection, anyway. With that said, as we get more and more of our "stuff" unpacked, I am feeling like the apartment is "home" even if Jacksonville still feels like an extended vacation.

As is inevitable whenever there is a move, we had to go to the grocery store for some staples as well as perishables. With such a long move, we were unable to bring along a lot of staples we wouldn't have had to leave in a shorter move - things like mustard, pickles, and our hot sauces (oh wah! our hot sauces!). In the same way that Tucson has a Walgreen's on every corner, Jacksonville (hereafter referred to as "Jax") has a Publix grocery store at least every half mile! Not the type of store I usually frequent,  but we haven't found a Jax equivalent of Sunflower Market yet.

A couple of things surprised me about our first shopping trip. The bagger at the register asked me if I needed help unloading the groceries from the cart onto the belt. I kind of looked at him like he was from Jupiter and he said, " hasn't anyone ever asked you that before? Well, that's what we do here at Publix. We empty your cart and make you laugh." :) Another thing that surprised me was the availability of huge, and I mean huge bags of pre-cut and washed collard greens. I love collards and couldn't resist buying a big bag of them.

Our first dinner in the new place - Riblets and collards.
To celebrate our new home, our first dinner we made included a great mess of collards and some Hickory BBQ Riblets from Morningstar Farms. I modified a recipe from the back of the collards to prepare them.


Collard greens and onions


2 lbs. shredded and washed collard greens
2 cups water
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large sweet or red onion, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons molasses or 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon Bac-os

Bring the water and broth to a boil and add the collards. Cook them for 6-7 minutes (or to desired tenderness). Drain. In a large skillet sprayed lightly with vegetable or olive oil, saute the onions. When they are translucent, add the molasses, vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 1  minute and then add the collards and combine. Top with the Bac-os, if using.

I loved them, but I think if I were doing them again, I would add a little cornstarch to the liquid to thicken up the sauce a little - just a pinch.