For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about Southern food. It started when I found a smoked pork hock at my nearby grocery store, which was unusual enough for them to carry that I took notice of it the next few times I was shopping and finally bought after a couple of weeks of curious contemplation. Around the same time, on my walk to work one day, I noticed some intimidatingly large feral collard greens growing in an overgrown plot that was once a community garden, then was marked for development, then had development plans mysteriously cancelled, while the kale and chard and collards continued to grow without any care as to what was in store for the land. It seemed the stage was set for a truly Southern cooking experience, so I began looking for the perfect collard greens recipe and the right weekend to invite friends over to help me eat it.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Just this last weekend, when I’d picked up the makings for cornbread and finally decided it was time to harvest some of the collards, I wandered by the plot — and the plant was bare but for a few leaves! Considering that I had been plotting to grab the greens myself, I can’t really fault whichever urban forager collected them for making sure they didn’t go to waste, but I was still left with the need (yes, need) to make cornbread, even though I’d need to find something else to serve with it. The recipe I adapted was based on the skillet cornbread from Taste of Southern; I reduced the sugar slightly and converted the recipe to use non-self-rising flours plus separate leaveners, since it’s not very common up here to use their self-rising counterparts.