Upper South

April, 2011
Regional Report

Books

Cooking Greens
Greens are among the most important foods we should be eating, but they can sometimes present a cooking challenge, or, at the very least, it's easy to get into a cooking rut. I recently bought large bunches of kale, collards, and red mustard at a farmer's market. Although I had recipes in mind for kale and collards, I must admit that mustard is a challenge for me. In looking through the half dozen or so of cookbooks devoted to greens, Greens Glorious Greens! by Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers (St. Martin's Griffin, 1996, $21.95) stood out, with a recipe for a stew that combined sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and mustard greens piquing my interest the most. Besides mustard greens, there are lots of other interesting ideas for using arugula, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli rabe, cabbage, chard, Chinese greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive and chicory, kale, lettuce and salad greens, parsley, spinach, turnip greens, watercress, and wild greens.

Favorite or New Plant

Hyacinths
All the spring-flowering bulbs, from the earliest snowdrop to the last tulip, entrance me from February through May, each for different reasons. But it is the fragrance of hyacinths that gives them a special place in my heart. Their rich, intense purfume is synonymous with spring for me. Plus, they bloom for many weeks in March and April and are available in a wide range of colors, including deep purple (often referred to as blue), mauve-violet, carmine red, pink, yellow, salmon-orange, and white. Hyacinths grow to 10 inches tall, doing best with a well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Plant them in the fall, spacing 6 inches apart, with the base of the bulb 8 inches below the soil level. I usually try to plant them in groups of at least three. Most people are familiar with what is referred to as the Dutch hyacinth, with each bulb producing a single stem of closely spaced flowers, but for a less-formal appearance, try the multiflora, or Festival strain, of hyacinths, which produce more open, multiple flower stems from each bulb.

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