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Published: Saturday, 9/3/2011

Collard greens aren’t just for Southern cuisine

Collard greens from the garden of Joyce and Glenn Stubblefield. Collard greens from the garden of Joyce and Glenn Stubblefield.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Have you ever tried collard greens for dinner?

“Some people might think it is a weed,” said Glenn Stubblefield of Toledo. “But collard greens have been on my family’s dinner table for my whole life. To us it was a way of survival.”

The greens are related to broccoli and cabbage and are a common side dish served all around the world. And in Glenn’s world, it is also a reason to gather good friends and family together Saturday and continue a neighborhood tradition in South Toledo.

“We call it the ‘Collard Green Fest,’ ” Mr. Stubblefield said. “My wife, Joyce, and other neighbors make up some of our favorite dishes and we share it. As a kid, we used to grow greens in the garden and lots of fruit. My dad used to fish from Lake Erie, so we would have fish and greens. Then our parents and grandparents would make wine out of other things we grew in our yard like grapes, pears, and even dandelions. And they would share that too.”

This is the 11th year he and Joyce put together this neighborhood reunion. And the easy to grow leafy vegetable is the center of attention on the dinner table. Joyce makes collard green lasagna, collard green salads, collard green egg rolls, collard green corn bread, collard green sandwiches, collard green wraps, and even collard green ice cream.

Mr. Stubblefield said the greens are boiled down and pureed in a food processor and folded into different kinds of ice cream.

“It can be added to any kind of ice cream you like, lemon, vanilla,” he said. “This year she is even coming up with a recipe for collard green cake. It is kind of trial and error. She makes something new each year.”

Collard greens are long stalks like kale that don’t grow into a tight head like cabbage. Some varieties can grow up to two feet tall. Butter Collard, Georgia Southern, and Morris Heading are some popular varieties in backyard gardens. A staple vegetable in Southern cuisine, many people even mix them with other greens.

Joyce and Glenn Stubblefield sit in their lush South Toledo garden. Joyce and Glenn Stubblefield sit in their lush South Toledo garden.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Many recipes combine them with salty meats such as ham hocks, smoked turkey, or other fatty meats. They are even part of many new year celebrations, served with black-eyed peas and cornbread to ensure wealth in the coming year.

Mr. Stubblefield said friends from all over the country come back to the neighborhood for this festival. He is a 1961 graduate of Libbey High School and his wife is a 1964 graduate of Whitney High.

“We display pictures of things that happened around the city back in the ’50s and ’60s. We talk about all of the great athletes that came from Toledo and musicians we played with at the Belmont Enterprise, Civic Auditorium, and talk about memories from our high school days at Woodard, Scott, Waite, and many others. Things that used to happen back in the day.”

Join in on the reminiscing and great food at the 11th Annual Collard Green Festival at 5 p.m. Saturday at 1704 Belmont Ave.

And Joyce says make sure you come hungry.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.

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