Stand-Up Dinner with Pickled Collards

I’d like to make the case for Stand-Up Dinner. Not all the time, or even very often, but every once in a while it makes sense to eat while standing. Cider making evenings are just such an occasion in our household.

When we make hard cider it’s a process taking several hours. We make a batch at the same time we are bottling the last batch so we always have something fermenting in the corner of the kitchen. Washing and sanitizing bottles, making ginger infusions for a zesty spin, crushing spices, pureeing fruit, tasting cider, documenting all the steps, so batches can be recreated; all of these things take time. Then priming sugar must be added for carbonation, bottles filled, and cider tasted.  Did I mention cider must be tasted?

After hours of work and cider tasting, hunger comes on suddenly. We realize normal dinner hour has long since passed, and the bubbles are going to our heads. Rather than take a break, we eat a delicious meal standing up. Not even bothering with plates, but smearing goat cheese, pickled collards, or hummus on sourdough toast to munch while continuing to fill and stopper bottles. Of course we could have heated last night’s leftover beef stew, but that would require bowls, spoons, and two hands.

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Everything we eat for Stand-Up Dinner is a little decadent. To make up for not sitting down decadence is required. I almost always have some pickles and good cheese on hand, and we build from there. Pulling olives, cured sausage, roasted peppers, hummus, boiled eggs, pickled collards, apples, fig preserves, bourbon peaches, reduced balsamic, pesto, crackers, or bread from the fridge and larder. Every bite is a new assemblage of flavors, and we discover Manchego cheese is excellent with the fig preserves, and pickled collards are good on everything.

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If you find that some nights require a Stand-Up Dinner I recommend making it decadent, and I recommend pickled collards with everything.

 photo credit: Katherine Brooks [www.katherinebrooksphotography.com]

photo credit: Katherine Brooks [www.katherinebrooksphotography.com]

Pickled Collards – makes 3 -4 pints Collards

8 cups packed sliced collard greens (12 ounces)
2 cups thinly sliced onion (one large)
1 cup diced carrot or red pepper (optional)
3 cups water
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes.

  • Pack in sterilized jars and water bath can for 15 minutes (see instructions below).

  • Jars that have been canned will keep unopened for one year in a cool dark place. Alternatively skip the canning process and keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Canning Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with at least 6 inches of water in it.

  • Sanitize 4 pint canning jars and lids in the boiling water.

  • Remove jars from water, but keep it boiling.

  • Fill jars with hot collard greens, make sure rims of jars are clean, and tighten lids on jars.

  • Carefully place jars in the boiling water bath with at least one inch of water covering the tops of jars.

  • Boil for 15 minutes.

  • Remove jars from water and allow to cool. 

  • Test to make sure jars are sealed by gently pressing on the center of the lid – you should not be able to depress the lid. Collards should keep on the shelf un-opened for one to two years. Do not consume any canned goods that smell or appear to have mold or rot.

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