On my long three weeks journey, after a few days in spent Oxford, MS at the Southern Foodways Alliance Conference, I crossed the Mississippi River at Helena over to W. Helena in Arkansas.
At Pine Bluff High School I talked African American foodways and gardenways in the Jefferson era and also contemporary health issues of concern to the black community. All 5 Social Studies classes came to the library to hear me talk. The thing they found most astounding is that there are 320 calories in a 20 oz soda; and that it would take 92 minutes to walk them off!
I bought fabulous huge Jewel Yams, young kale, mustard, and turnip greens from Charles and Bobbie Carpenter Clark at their produce market where they sell the vegetables they raise on their farm east of town.
At the middle school I served baked yams, greens cooked with onion and smoked turkey, and corn pone made on my cast iron griddle. We drizzled the pone with local made sorghum syrup and Ribbon Cane Syrup. Yummy was the general consensus!
The smell of twenty baking yams is a wondrous experience. After a light rub with oil I bake them till they are super soft and the sweet juice is caramelizing in the bottom of the pan. Of course I love them hot but cold will do! And they freeze well.
I bought a smoked turkey wing and used it for the rich taste it adds to the greens. It adds little fat and can easily replace the traditional smoked pork hock.
The next leg of the journey took me even further south followed by a huge leap northward!