Mother and daughter

Angela Shelf Medearis with her mother, Angeline.

By Angela Shelf Medearis

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is Angela's final column. 

Dear Readers:

Over a decade ago, I was given the wonderful opportunity to work King Features Weekly Service to create The Kitchen Diva! food and lifestyle column. Editor Jim Clarke helped me to craft 800 words, including a recipe, into a user-friendly and, hopefully, entertaining format each week, year in and year out. This is my last column for King Features, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jim for being such an extraordinary editor, the King Features Weekly Service staff and all of you for your interest and support of my work.

I've enjoyed reading your emails, searching for recipes that you loved and lost, and answering questions about your cooking dilemmas. I feel like I've made thousands of new friends over the years. I can't thank you all enough for the privilege of doing what I love, and the honor of being able to share my thoughts and new discoveries with you each week.

When I started The Kitchen Diva column, I was transitioning into the culinary world after writing more than 100 children's books and visiting schools and presenting speeches at literacy conferences all over the U.S. and Europe. My love affair with studying culinary history, writing about food, creating recipes, publishing cookbooks and doing cooking demos as The Kitchen Diva! is an odd turn of events considering I was never a great cook.

My mother, Angeline, is a wonderful cook, among her many other artistic talents, so I never felt the need to try to cook anything when I was growing up. My mother's decision to supplement her income by baking and selling her fabulous pies was the impetus of my career change. But instead of baking and selling pies, my sister Sandra suggested that I write a cookbook containing her recipes.

I taught myself how to cook and to write a recipe as part of the educational process of creating my first cookbook, "The African American Kitchen," with lots of help from my mother and my sister Marcia. I had no idea how labor-intensive, expensive (we bought all of the ingredients and tested over 150 recipes) and challenging this cookbook would be. I spent two years studying culinary history and heritage recipes from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, old Southern "receipts and scripts" and the African-influenced melting pot of cuisines that make up the foundation of the way that we eat in America today.

Over the past two decades, I've also observed the impact of recipes, handed down from generation to generation and prepared for the people you love, to bond together a family or to welcome new friends. It's those recipes for life that have held me in good stead through the horrible and heartbreaking national and personal events during the pandemic last year. Jim, my editor at King Features, took over my column in order to allow me to take the time that I needed to run The Kitchen Diva's Health Outreach, a division of Book Boosters, our families' non-profit education, health and social-service agency.

We were able to distribute hundreds of prepared meals, and to purchase canned and packaged foods to establish onsite pantries for families living in apartments in underserved communities here in Austin, Texas, during the pandemic and the horrible winter storm last year. I want to devote more time to operating our non-profit health outreach division and focus on educating and empowering people all over the world about ways to combat diabetes and diet-related illnesses using every form of media.

So, dear readers, as a tribute to my mother, Angeline, who LOVES collard greens, I'm sharing one of her favorite recipes with you. Enjoy, and "see" you soon!

ANGELINE'S EASY COLLARD GREENS

1 large bunch (about 10 ounces) collard greens

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed and thinly sliced

1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

1. Wash the greens in cool water to remove any dirt. Cut the thick central ribs out of the collard greens. Stack the leaves on top of one another. Starting at one end, roll them up into a cigar-liked shape, then slice across the roll to make the greens into thin strips about 1/8-inch wide, and cut again lengthwise.

2. Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat for a minute. Then add the greens and all of the rest of the ingredients except for the vinegar. Cook the greens, stirring every 30-seconds to combine the ingredients and cook them through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the collards to a serving bowl, sprinkle them with the vinegar, stir and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her latest cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is www.divapro.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis

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