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How do you cook YOUR greens?

Harmony Edosomwan is the owner and head chef of Harmony’s Kitchen, a full-service afro-fusion soul food catering business.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Harmony Edosomwan is the owner and head chef of Harmony’s Kitchen, an Afro-fusion soul food catering business.

Host Myra Flynn unpacks one soul food recipe: collard greens, with local and world-renowned chefs, and even her own mother. Together they explore how the history of a once undesirable food mimics the resilience, innovation and perseverance of a once considered undesirable people.

This is the latest episode of Homegoings, a seasonal podcast that features fearless conversations about race. This is storytelling — with soul. Follow the series here.

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Collard greens are a soul food side dish that don’t get cooked often, but when they do — you know. Because they smell so good.

There are a lot of different foods that live in the Black soul food category:Catfish, fried chicken, mac and cheese, hot water cornbread or my mom’s personal favorite, what she calls the “star of the show” – black-eyed peas. But, collard greens are the star of this show because, like my mom says, everyone seems to cook them a little differently depending on your generation, your ethnic roots and where you’re from.

Turns out, the way we cook these tough little greens goes back hundreds of years to Black people being enslaved. So much of what we know as soul food today was born out of the food, often undesirable, given to slaves.

But as Kevin Bludso, barbeque pitmaster and celebrity chef and owner of Bludso’s BBQ, says:

“That's what we were given to cook with as slaves – the worst parts of the pig, the feet, the chitlins and all that, you know, the guts, the tail, the nose, all the worst parts our ancestors was given to cook with, and look what they did — they made it amazing.”

For this episode, we’ll chat with Kevin about how he came to barbecue and how he views the evolution of soul food in America. Then, Harmony Edosomwan, the chef and owner of Harmony’s Kitchen in Winooski, Vermont, shares her recipe for collard greens and tells us how cooking her Afro-fusion soul food has played a central role in her journey toward — and away from — activism.

This is Homegoings. Welcome home.

Note: Our show is made for the ear. We highly recommend pressing play on the audio posted here. For accessibility, we also provide a transcript of the episode. Transcripts are generated using a combination of robots and human transcribers. They may contain errors, so please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Martha (Mama Mathis)

Martha Mathis, Myra Flynn’s mother, is a retired dean of Middlebury College and Norwich University. She lives in rural Vermont.
Vermont Public
Martha Mathis, Myra Flynn’s mother, is a retired dean of Middlebury College and Norwich University. She lives in rural Vermont.

Let me start this episode by talking about my mom, Martha Mathis, Mama Mathis, or if you attended Middlebury College or Norwich University in Vermont you know her as Dean Mathis. My mom is a 73 year-old Black female, retired dean of a military college living in rural Vermont. In short, she’s a badass.

My mother is THE reason I’ve had access to my Blackness. I grew up in the very white state of Vermont and I have a white father. But my mother made sure I knew who I was and all the rich Black history that I came from. One of the ways she kept Blackness alive in our house was through cooking. So, for today’s episode I’m narrowing in on one dish in particular, collard greens.

When I told my mom the title of this episode ‘How do you cook your greens?’ She got it right away. “I love that title,” she said. “I love it. I think that’s a good topic because everybody’s different.”

Collard greens are a soul food side dish which don’t get cooked often, but when they are cooking you know. I always knew greens were being cooked in our house because they smelled so good.

There are a lot of different foods that live in the Black soul food category: catfish, fried chicken, mac and cheese, hot water cornbread or my mom’s personal favorite, what she calls the “star of the show” – black-eyed peas. But I’m thinking collard greens are the star of this show because, like my mom says, everyone seems to cook them a little differently depending on your generation, your ethnic roots and where you’re from.

If you haven’t had what we are calling greens, here are the cliff notes. Greens are typically cooked in the biggest pot you have on the stove for hours and hours, sometimes even days. Inside that pot is a kind of soupy broth made from all the other stuff that goes into the recipe. Sometimes that’s smoked or salted meats that break down slowly in the greens. There’s butter, salt, bones at times, all sorts of spices. So, at a certain point to call them greens feels a little like a misnomer. Once you’re done putting all the meat in them and cooking them down – there typically isn’t much “green” left.

When I asked my mom how much butter she uses in her recipe she said, “A whole stick. The more high blood pressure, the better.”

Oh, yes. Not in every pot, but let's just say you decide OK, I want the pork family, and that would be salt pork and hammocks. That's it. You want the smoke family, I would probably still throw in a little salt pork because that's where you're getting your flavor along with the parts, the wings, or the whatever, the smoke parts. And parts now, oh they look so good in the store, but they are pretty expensive out here. But smoked breast, they look so good.”

Vermont Public
Martha (Mama) Mathis’ collard greens are an important part of the Thanksgiving table.

As much as I loved, adored, salivated and looked forward to soul food in my home, it didn’t come around all that often. So when it did we knew something big was going down. “The purpose of greens is celebratory,” Mom says. “So something big is happening, if it was a holiday – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter. Those three in particular.”

My mom also says greens show up on what she calls: the Black holidays. Which I’m starting to learn means days of labor recognition, freedom recognition, and really any good day to have a barbecue.

When my mom was making greens in our house she nearly disappeared into the kitchen for a couple days. You better be bleeding if you were gonna interrupt her.

“It’s labor intensive,” my mom says. “You’ve got to wash every leaf, and then you let it soak, and then you wash it again just to get the dirt out. Then you break it up. Some people chop it. I’ve just always torn mine so that they come out looking like who they are, which is not a perfect shape. This is one of those generational dishes. So you’re not just gonna wake up one day and probably say, ‘Hmmm, I think, you know, I’m gonna cook some greens,’ because there’s a whole mood involved in it.”

From Vermont Public, this is Homegoings. I’m Myra Flynn. Today on the show, we follow one soul food recipe across generations, cultures and history.

This is Homegoings. Welcome home.


Kevin Bludso is the pitmaster of Bludso’s BBQ restaurants. He’s also been a judge on Netflix’s TV series: Barbecue Showdown.
Vermont Public
Kevin Bludso is the pitmaster and owner of Bludso’s BBQ restaurants. He’s also been a judge on Netflix’s TV series: Barbecue Showdown.

Myra Flynn: So, I usually give a heads-up about swearing in our episodes. This is one of those times. So heads-up: There’s gonna be some cussin’ in this episode. And in case you’re wondering why I allow it, it’s not because I like — love swearing. It’s just that sometimes people “be cussing.” It’s just how they talk.

Kevin Bludso: Cause be cussing. I cuss at a funeral, at church.

Myra Flynn (on tape): You cuss at church? 

Kevin Bludso: Hell yeah, the pastor’s taking too long, I’m like goddamn, I gotta go to a damn game. Me and him cussing each other out after the damn thing, shit. I was pissed, first of all the church had a cover charge. I was already mad about that, you know. Free to get in. Thirty dollars to get out. So that pissed me off. So I cussed him out. This is a joke. I'm joking.

Myra Flynn (on tape): You got me. I'm sitting here like ‘What church and going to? You should not go to that church anymore.’ 

Myra Flynn: This is Kevin Bludso. And when he’s not busy messing with people, he’s a celebrity pitmaster and owner of Bludso’s BBQ restaurants. He’s also been a judge on Netflix’s TV series Barbecue Showdown. And Kevin has some other notable feathers in his cap to say the least.

Kevin Bludso: You have to say it. It’s too much. I feel like I’m bragging, you know. James Beard Award, multiple TV shows, get to work with Phil all the time. You know, that type of stuff, those types of relationships. Just, just a lot has come out of it, you know.

Myra Flynn: I met Kevin through my husband, Phil, who I introduced you to in the last episode of Homegoings about Black men. Phil works in the bar and restaurant and TV scene, so Kevin is a peer of sorts. I’ve only ever met him once, so we’re still sussing out one another’s soul food origins.

Myra Flynn (on tape): Well, Phil and I grew up in Vermont.

Kevin Bludso: Vermont 54th down there in South Central, y’all from the Rolling 60’s? 

Myra Flynn (on tape): No… Vermont the state. 

Kevin Bludso: Oh, with the syrup! Only two Blacks in Vermont. Y’all probably the only tow Blacks I know from Vermont. 

Myra Flynn: Kevin may not know where I’m from, but I certainly know where he’s from. Kevin is originally from Compton, California, which is known for a lot of things. Barbeque doesn’t come first to mind when I think of it.

Myra Flynn (on tape): So Compton, California, is where you learned barbeque? 

Kevin Bludso: No, I learned barbecue in Texas. Coming out here and learned the barbecue game coming out here in the summertime spending time with my granny Miss Willie Mae Fields in Corsicana, Texas. But I learned a little bit in Compton. We barbecue in Compton. What the hell, Myra? You don't think we cook in Compton? 

Myra Flynn (on tape): I just don't know if it's known for its barbecue as much.

Kevin Bludso: You know, quick history, my dad was LAPD. My mom worked at a post office but she was also a Black Panther sympathizer. So imagine that, you know. Of course they got divorced. But every summer my mother would send me out, because I wanted to go, you know, because I was a country boy at heart. So, she sent me out here to Texas every summer. My granny ran a small, you know, like, juke-joint barbecue stand, whole house, bootleg all that in there was going on at granny’s spot. But you know she was one of the best people I've ever seen on the pit, you know. And that's where I learned the barbecue, from her.

Myra Flynn: Kevin is what’s known as a pitmaster, which means that when it comes to barbecue, he’s in charge of the meat, in particular – the smoking. Which I tried recently with a brisket. It took 12 hours and shifts throughout the night. They don’t call him a pitmaster for nothin. Plus like any journey towards a job or calling — it has its pit-falls (that’s right. Pun intended.)

But that wasn’t always the plan.

Kevin Bludso: I wasn’t going to no food service. I hated it. I hated working in that hot restaurant. I hated working with my uncles and them. And my granny used to always tell me, ‘Well, you need to go to college and get you a degree and do something like that,’ she said. ‘Run your own business.’ Because she said, ‘you're too much of an asshole to work for anybody.’ And that's what she used to tell me. So, I left. And then I went, I was going to teach. So, I was going to school for secondary education. I didn't have no lovely damn goals about being no teacher. I just wanted, I couldn't imagine not having weekends, and the summer and holidays off, and that was the only reason I wanted to teach. And then I realized, ‘Shit. I hate kids. I don’t want to be no teacher.’

I just went to tests everywhere, Dallas PD, LAPD, LA Sheriff Department of Corrections and Department of Corrections came through. So I graduated college that Thursday, that Monday I was in the corrections academy in Sacramento, California, just that quick. My granny was right. I got fired for being an asshole. But, I had to fall back on what I knew and even then I still didn't want to go. But granny, one of her sayings was you got always have you a legal hustle 

Myra Flynn: Kevin spent the next dozen or so years working for the California Department of Corrections. And, surprisingly, that helped prepare him for his next gig.

Kevin Bludso: You gotta run that kitchen like a prison kitchen. The prison kitchen is the cleanest kitchen around, you know. So you run that kitchen, it's like that. But just discipline, the discipline of it, you know. I thought when I got terminated it was the worst day of my life. But like I said, like I tell my kids, you never know how your life is gonna be. You never know. You might think this is the road for you. And like I said, that was the only way.. God forced me out of that because he had such a bigger plan. And I was just comfortable. You know, I was comfortable making 70/80,000 a year. I'm young, you know what I mean? And he was like, ‘Nah partner, you got some work ahead of you.’

Myra Flynn: Kevin’s food at Bludso’s Bar & Que is bomb. Trust me — I’ve eaten there a bunch. The menu includes things like hushpuppies with chipotle buttermilk, loaded fries with buffalo chicken, pulled pork and brisket on them, an entire menu section entitled: MEAT. And of course— the recipe du jour.

Myra Flynn (on tape): Can you talk to me about greens?

Kevin Bludso: Oh, I love collards. Being with my granny, the reason why collard greens are so big in restaurants and things like that is because they hold up better. The turnip greens and the mustard greens when they sit in the water they get real swampy. So collards always stand up, you know, because it's a bigger leaf. It's a stronger leaf, and all that. So my granny, when I would come to Texas, would cook collards and collards was just so strong and to get that leaf to where you want it. Cause it's the toughest one out of all of them. It's the strongest one out of all of them. The elephant ears gets the biggest out of all of them, and it's the most flavorful out of all of them. And it's the hardest one to cultivate, you know out of all of them. So, and that's like I said. And that was a throwaway green or throw away plant or whatever, for slaves and stuff back in the day. 

Myra Flynn: What Kevin says here is important. Because you can dress it up, make it a trend or write a cookbook about it, but in the end this delicious food we now know as soul food,comes from slavery.

Kevin Bludso: All this food was throw-away food. So brisket is the most popular dish, probably, in barbecue, you know, especially in competition. And that's actually the chest of the calf, which is the toughest muscle. That's what we were given to cook with as slaves, the worst parts of the pig, the feet, the chitlins and all that, you know, the guts, the tail, the nose, all the worst parts our ancestors was given to cook with, and look what they did. They made it amazing. 

Myra Flynn: We – slaves — Black people — took these undesirable parts, scraps, leftovers and inedible things — and with a whole lot of love, turned them into beautiful food.

And not just because we had to, though there were no other options. But because of what we already knew how to do.

Though the collard greens recipe we know now did not originate in Africa, the tradition of eating greens or really most things that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking that gravy from the greens (known as “pot likker”) is of African origin. So we brought this style of cooking to the plantation and wouldn’t you know — it spread. When slaves entered the plantation houses as official cooks, their African style of cooking merged with the foods available in the region they lived in and began to evolve into what is now writ large just called: Southern cooking.

Kevin Blodso makes what he calls “old-fashioned Southern greens with ham hock” as pictured here from his cookbook “Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook.”
Myra Flynn
Vermont Public
Kevin Blodso makes what he calls “old-fashioned Southern greens with ham hock” as pictured here from his cookbook “Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook.”

There has been a recent movement in the soul food world, to make soul food healthier. I know my mom said it earlier, “The higher the blood pressure the better” but real talk — studies, like one by the Journal of the American Medical Association, show that fried foods and fats could be why Black people disproportionately suffer from hypertension. A diet high in fat and sodium can lead to high blood pressure with risk factors like heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. I can name at least three of my own family members who have diabetes. But Kevin says, don’t blame the food.

Kevin Bludso: A lot of people talk negative about it. But just think how can you talk negative from people that you came from? And that's all they had to eat and they ate it. So you don't have to eat it. But now you still eat it because you realize some of it is still incredible food. I mean, I remember they used to talk about oxtails on the Beverly Hillbillies. Granny was asked ‘What you cooking?’ ‘We’re having oxtails and crow's feet.’ And now look, I still gotta a paper somewhere from 70 something where oxtails were like 69 cents a pound. Now they like $15 a pound, you know, because like I said, they love that food. They love your food. They loved it when he was a slave because he was cooking for him. And they love it now. Now we just getting paid for it. 

Myra Flynn: Within this movement to make soul food healthier, I’ve seen everything from gluten free fried chicken recipes to vegan collard greens. We aren’t slaves anymore, and we don’t want our people dying, so I get it — but you have to ask where you draw that line in keeping or changing one of the only early traditions Black Americans have to hold onto, really claim and actually profit off of. I mean growing up with soul food was a true inroad to me knowing my history. To me knowing myself. And Kevin says, the real new ingredient in soul food these days — is choice. It’s a privilege to get to abandon that tradition at all.

Kevin Bludso: Now you have the choice to eat what you want to eat, you know. There you had a choice to eat. That's all we had to eat. And we made it incredible. So I feel like it should be celebrated all the time. You know, and I'll fight for it all the time.

Myra Flynn (on tape): I think we’re probably down on soul food because of how many of us have diabetes.

Kevin Bludso: Who eats it every single day? Especially if you got diabetes, you're gonna have diabetes. You ain't cooking soul food everyday. You cooking spaghetti and everything else. You're not making oxtail. No black person I know that's eating a soul food dinner every single day. Keep it 100. It's not like, ‘What you cooking? It’s Wednesday, Honey, what you cooking?’ ‘I'm cooking some short-ribs, oxtails, string beans, banana pudding.’ You're not eating like that during the week you know. You know that you having Hamburger Helper throughout the week and there ain’t nothing healthy about that. So ain’t no soul food gave you diabetes. That damn Taco Bell and all, that gave you diabetes.

I get so damn tired when they try to put soul food down and I'd be like, what genre of food is healthy? None. So why do we always talk about our food? I love soul food. I love our culture. I love where it comes from. I mean, we took nothing and made it into something. You can taste your ancestors in certain things that you cook. You can taste them, you know. So you can taste the pain and, ‘Oh spice that up. Spice that up. I want that to be hot. Like so and so, so and so.’ You can taste all of that. No other culture has went through what we had to go through and so soul food is ours.


Scott Finn and Kim and Brendan Carson sit down with chef Harmony Edosomwan in the Vermont Public studios to taste Harmony’s collard greens.
James Stewart
Vermont Public
Scott Finn and Kim and Brendan Carson sit down with chef Harmony Edosomwan in the Vermont Public studios to taste Harmony’s collard greens.

Harmony Edosomwan: I made it with smoked turkey today. There's a lot of pot likkers. I don't want to spill it. 

Kim Carson: I try at every turn to eat Harmony’s food. 

Harmony Edosomwan: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Scott Finn: Where's the heat coming from? 

Harmony Edosomwan: Red pepper flakes.

James Stewart: So, what do you think of the collard greens? 

Brendan Carson: I'd say honestly, they're good. The way the spices and the way that, like, the juicers and the greases just kind of soak into the greens just gives it that extra taste to it.

Harmony Edosomwan: Thank you.

Kim Carson: That’s my little Gordon Ramsey. 

Scott Finn: It’s like layers of flavor, ya know?

Harmony Edosomwan: Thank you.

Yeah, my name is Harmony Edosomwan. I live in Winooski, Vermont, and I am a private chef and caterer. You know, just doing my thing making soul food.

Myra Flynn: Harmony Edosomwan is the chef and owner of Harmony’s Kitchen. A soul food catering company and supper club. And as you can hear, her food is being thoroughly enjoyed in studio without me — because I work remotely. Though I’ve been promised some were frozen for my return — and Vermont Public — I’m holdin’ y’all to that.

Anyway, Harmony’s Kitchen, the business came into view for Harmony in 2019, but the concept for it began long before that.

Harmony Edosomwan: I knew that there wasn't really a lot of authentic black soul food here. And so I started it, because I was like, you know, I want to be able to bring that here. Also, to make extra money. I was in college, when I was doing it, I was like a junior in college. So I was like cooking out of my apartment I lived with like five other people. And I would make these advertisements. And like, my classmates would come and pick up food in my humble apartment. And so that's kind of like how I got my origins. And so through that process of like, building up my business, I started to, like, just deeply fall, grow more of like, a passion for what I was doing. 

Myra Flynn: I’ve had the chance to taste Harmony’s food at different events over time. And just like the big beautiful afro she’s rockin’ in studio today — it stands out. There’s something familiar yet also totally different about her food. A style you can taste — that’s all her own.

Harmony Edosomwan: I call it Afro fusion soul food, it’s my particular style of what I do. Because it's like a kind of like a mix of different African diasporic countries. So, I do southern food, a mix of Puerto Rican food and Nigerian food. I'm Nigerian-American. So growing up, you know, I started cooking when I was like, maybe like nine or 10. And it was like, kind of my responsibility, me and my sister’s responsibility to cook for the family. That's kind of just like how the culture is a little bit, you know, like, a lot of the responsibility is put on to the kids. And so, my mom from a young age would make me like, stand next to her and just watch her cook. Whenever like, she was like, just come stand next to me, watch me do this.

Southern food, I learned kind of mostly through different friends and different families and online as well. There's like a great resource of learning. But whenever I go online and try to learn something I always try to make sure it's coming from like, an authentic source, you know. And Puerto Rican food I learned mostly from, I grew up in the Bronx. The Bronx is a very diverse place. There's like a bunch of different cultures, especially like, there's a bunch of different Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. I had one friend in particular, her mom actually taught me how to make a lot of the Puerto Rican food I make today.

Myra Flynn: Throughout reporting this episode, I’ve gotten a deeper understanding as to why some foods were undesirable for slave masters, and why they made it to the soul-food menu. Mosty, they were things that were hard to eat. But I’ll admit, greens still trip me up a little. They do take a long time to prepare, but you gotta wonder how anything green made the cut. They aren’t as hard to eat as say — a neck bone of an animal. Harmony has some theories.

Harmony Edosomwan: Usually when people see collard greens, they see all cleaned and put in the store, like all bunched up for you wrapped up, right. But when you're actually growing the plant, it's actually a very dirty process. And greens are like, especially fresh greens, like straight from the ground, are extremely dirty. And so I can see why that would turn, I guess, rich folks of the time off, like, it's not really something that they would see worth getting their hands dirty for. And it's such a rigorous process.

Depending on where you get your greens from, especially if you're growing it yourself, you're going to have to really like, make sure it's clean. It can also attract a lot of bugs and so like you would, there's times even from a grocery store, I'd find greens that still have bugs in them, you know, and so like you really have to be really, you have to pay attention. This isn't something that you can like, you know, do lazily. If you're gonna make greens, clear your day and make sure that you know you have the time to do it.

Harmony Edosomwan prefers to use smoked turkey and her own homemade broth when preparing her greens for Harmony’s Kitchen.
James Stewart
Vermont Public
Harmony Edosomwan prefers to use smoked turkey and her own homemade broth when preparing her greens for Harmony’s Kitchen.

Myra Flynn: Before Harmony became an entrepreneur she was an activist at the University of Vermont and in her town of Winooski. And from what I’ve seen over the years in following her, she was a passionate one. It’s no surprise to me that in switching gears to being a chef her food reflects that same passion.

Harmony Edosomwan: Before I started doing Harmony’s Kitchen, I was more so known for, you know, being a poet and activist. And so I spent literally since I came here in 2016, till 2021 all those years just full force, activism, activism activism. And I had to step away because I was just like, you know, I'm not finding joy in life. It's sucking everything out of me. I'm really trying to make this place a better place for Black folks and a better place for, you know, us to live. Whether when I was on UVM campus trying to make it a better place for minorities and then being out in the community trying to make it a better place for all people. But I guess stepping away and finding that joy. I took a year, I thought was only a year off from activism, but I'm still off from it. But I kind of like, took that time in 2021 and 2022 to kind of find out like, what is it like to not fight anymore? What is it like to not have to keep going at this? What is it like to try to live a life that's softer, you know? And then I started cooking I guess. 

Myra Flynn: Here on the show, each of our episodes ends with a deep listen to something powerful and profound. Sometimes that’s art, and as you heard in our last episode on Black men, sometimes that’s just something amazing someone said. I’ll admit in this episode — I’ve been burying the lead a little. So for this deep listen, we are going to circle back to my mom, Martha Mathis, Kevin Bludso and Harmony Edosomwan and hear — how they cook their greens. Scored to the sound of Harmony, cooking her famous greens. So sit back, and let the listen in. And as a nod to what Kevin said earlier, I’m gonna title this one: Tasting my ancestors.

Tasting my ancestors

by Harmony Edosomwan, Kevin Bludso and Martha (Mama) Mathis

Martha Mathis: You know, we would cook the night before, of course. For the big days you didn't do all this cooking on the same day that you wanted to eat it. There's no time.

Harmony Edosomwan: I basically make a vinegar wash bath. I'm looking through all my greens. I submerge them into the water for like, maybe like 20 to 30 minutes, let it do its thing there. You take each leaf one by one, rinsing it with cold water, checking it for any more dirt or like, bugs or anything like that. Once that's all done, you put it to the side.

Kevin Bludso: Cut your collard greens. Don't put them in whole, strip them, cut them in strips, roll them and cut them in strips. They cook better. The broth gets through better on them than when you have them and it looks like damn banana leaves or something. Cut them up, cut them in strips and they'll cook way much better.

Martha Mathis: I just tore them. I got the stems off because they're tough. Now mama's greens were a lot different than Miss Car V’s greens. So that's where I learned ham hock, I learned all that from Miss Car V, ham hock, neck bones.

Harmony Edosomwan: After that, you know, you saute some onions, some garlic, any seasonings you like. And once that's done, you add some chicken broth. When that reaches a boil, at that point you should add maybe like a smoked turkey leg or like ham. I do smoked turkey leg because I just don't really eat pork like that. But some folks like, you know, the pork in there. And so that's totally fine.

Kevin Bludso: If I’m using ham hocks or turkey wings, I boil those. I bring those up to get those tender, because I think the biggest mistake that people do is to put a ham hock, a smoked ham hock or a smoked turkey wing in there to cook with the greens because I want the meat to come off of it. Greens don't take that long to cook 45 minutes to an hour. So your meat has to already kind of be breaking down. So that last hour while it's cooking into the greens, it's gonna break down into the greens. Other than that you just gonna have a big old, tough ham hock sitting on top of some greens. 

Martha Mathis: We never threw it in, but Miss Car V would throw in okra. I remember eating her greens and she'd have okra and kale. Those are good too, to put in there.

Kevin Bludso: And then I take a little bit of the broth because it gets real salty. But I take a little bit of that and I add that into the juice that I'm putting my greens in. And I cook my greens with chicken base. Sometimes I use a pork jab, sometimes I don’t, ham hock or a turkey wing, a smoked turkey wing, onions, garlic, crushed red peppers, all that. Cook that down. 

Harmony Edosomwan: That simmering process can take up to an hour. Just to get the greens at a nice consistency.

Kevin Bludso: Your broth has to already taste good. You have to build your flavors by your broth. You know what collard greens taste like. So you build your flavor when you taste that and it tastes like a soup and it's good that's when it's time to put the greens in there. 

Harmony Edosomwan: When you bring that to a boil, you add the greens. Essentially pot likker is just that juice that comes from that fusion of the greens and the chicken broth you put in during the cooking process. So it just creates this delicious, such a unique broth. When I was actually on my way here I was in my Uber with my pan and like, pot likker juice was just following everywhere. I'm like, it smells so good. I'm sure they're not gonna mind. I cleaned it up though.

Martha Mathis: So by that time you're exhausted and it's time to go to bed. So there's my story.

Kevin Bludso: You can taste your ancestors in certain things that you cook. You can taste them, you know. So you can taste the pain and, ‘Oh spice that up. Spice that up. I want that to be hot, like so and so, so and so.’

Harmony Edosomwan: It feels really ancestral like, just ripping the collard greens with your hands and putting it to the side. I just felt so like, connected.

Martha Mathis: There are two women that come to my mind whenever I think of these and that’s mama and Miss Car V. Yeah, so I, you know, I don't know much else as far as how far back I should know. But when I think about cooking greens, I do think about those two. This conversation I think is worthy of production because you're talking generational, and without that, well you know, there will always be greens.


Special thanks to Jay Green, Phil Wills, Kim Carson, Brendan Carson and Scott Finn. Also thanks to Elodie Reed, who is the graphic artist behind all of our Homegoingsartist portraits.

This episode was mixed, scored and reported by Myra Flynn. She also composed the theme music, and the music under our deep listen. Other music by Blue Dot Sessions and Jay Green. Brittany Patterson edits our show. James Stewart contributes to so many things on the backend of making this show.

As always, you are welcome here. To continue to be part of the Homegoings family:


    Myra Flynn joined Vermont Public in March 2021 and is the DEIB Advisor, Host and Executive Producer of Homegoings. Raised in Vermont, Myra Flynn is an accomplished musician who has come to know the lay of dirt-road land that much more intimately through touring both well-known and obscure stages all around the state and beyond. She also has experience as a teaching artist and wore many hats at the Burlington Free Press, including features reporter and correspondent, before her pursuits took her deep into the arts world. Prior to joining Vermont Public, Myra spent eight years in the Los Angeles music industry.