Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What got this “Wow!” of “Wow!”s from Hubby? Not chocolate decadence but greens casserole!

After being my accomplice for all the 212 blog entries I’ve completed, Hubby has sampled every dish I’ve prepared before I entered each recipe. That’s a lot of taste-testing in more than a year—and a lot of “attagirl!” affirmations on his part.

I can’t think of any recipe in those 212 that Hubby hasn’t complimented—some more vociferously than others, of course, but Hubby always been free with the superlatives. Makes my job as chief cook and apprentice food blogger much easier, I must say.

But for him to be forthcoming with the remark, “This has to go down as my all-time favorite of anything you’ve cooked”, I had to take notice. “You mean one of your favorites?” I queried. “No, the ABSOLUTE favorite.” Well, that’s sayin’ somethin’, for sure.

Mind you, this wasn’t Chocolate Decadence or some sicky-sweet multilayer dessert he was puffing. It was none other than today’s blog subject, Greens Casserole with Mozzarella. Perhaps this happened because his own greens from his own garden (and the tail-end of them, mind you) represented the impetus for the recipe. But Hubby kept bragging and gushing and going back for more casserole. At one point he suggested that this was THE DISH I needed to bring to the next family gathering. At another point he walked into my office crunching a tortilla chip and murmuring, “This would make a good dip, too.”

Well, onto this attention-getting recipe, which took the last of the last of our 2011 crop of collard greens but was a fitting sayonara to them. It merely was a mixture of wilted greens, a sauce of milk, butter, flour, and cheeses and a topping of dry bread crumbs with Mozzarella cheese sprinkled on. I baked it in a 7-inch-by-11-inch casserole dish. It didn’t last long. (Recipe source: www.nikibone.com) Using my own homemade chicken broth, skim milk, part-skim (instead of whole-milk) ricotta cheese, and whole-wheat bread for the dry breadcrumbs were the redeeming health features, besides of course, the fresh-from-the-garden green leafies. As we know, collard greens provide anticancer properties and offer an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, carotene, chlorophyll, and manganese. One cup of collard greens provides more than 70 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C.

Bye-bye, collard greens. You’ve been a blast and taught us a lot and been the star of our winter garden. We’ll for sure remember you at the time of next year’s plantings.

Greens Casserole with Mozzarella

1 1/2 pounds collard greens, washed and trimmed
salt (or salt substitute) and freshly ground back pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup skim milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, whole milk or part skin
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Butter a 1 1/2-quart baking dish or casserole; preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut out and discard the tough stems from the greens; cut out thick center ribs. Rinse all the greens and shake off any excess water; chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large skillet cook the greens over low heat; add them by handfuls and stir them down as they wilt. Add 1/2 cup of water if the greens seem dry; then cover the skillet and braise for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Pour off any liquid left in the skillet; then season the greens to your preference with salt and pepper. Transfer greens to a bowl and set aside. Heat the broth and milk in a saucepan, just until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. In the large skillet melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring for one minute. Add the hot broth mixture all at once and stir over medium heat until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Whisk in the grated Parmesan and ricotta. Stir the greens into the cheese sauce; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and then sprinkle the grated mozzarella over the top; bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the mozzarella is melted and lightly browned. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

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