Collard Greens and Cornbread

Each year we make Collard Greens and Cornbread as a part of our Black History Month celebration. Our teaching kitchen transforms into a cafe, and our students travel through time and history to the Harlem Renaissance. There they learn about the cultural explosion that took place during the 1920's and 30's lead by members of the black community in New York City while listening to music, reading poetry, and eating food that feeds the soul.

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Collard Greens and Cornbread

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Each year we make Collard Greens and Cornbread as a part of our Black History Month celebration. Our teaching kitchen transforms into a cafe, and our students travel through time and history to the Harlem Renaissance. There they learn about the cultural explosion that took place during the 1920's and 30's lead by members of the black community in New York City while listening to music, reading poetry, and eating food that feeds the soul.

Theme

Recipe of the Month

Subjects

History

Learning Environment

Teaching Kitchen

Prep Time

30 minutes

Grade

K-8

Lesson Time

50 minutes

Role of Teacher

Classroom management and curricular tie.

Season

Winter

Materials

Ingredients for the Collards: Collard greens / Onions / Smoked paprika / Salt and pepper / Olive oil

Ingredients for the Cornbread: Cornmeal / Whole wheat flour / Baking powder / Salt / Olive oil / Eggs / Milk / Honey

Equipment: Cutting Boards / Knives / Mixing bowls and spoons / Saute pans / Measuring cups and spoons / Muffin trays

Background Information

  • While collard greens originated in the Mediterranean, they did not show up in the Americas until 1600 when the first Americans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. Collards are now a staple of the American south, where they are grown and enjoyed year round.
  • Collard greens are traditionally prepared with smoked meat and a side of cornbread used to soak up the nutritionally rich juices from the collards. Collard greens are related to broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. As such, they are full of many vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy! Collards are an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as manganese, fiber, and a slew of antioxidants that help detoxify our bodies. The health benefits associated with eating collard greens include cardiovascular and digestive support.
  • The Harlem Renaissance was a period of literary, social, artistic and intellectual movement lead by the black community in Harlem during the 1920’s and 30’s. Notable visionaries included Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Jean Toomer.

Topics / Goals / Learning Objectives

To learn about the Harlem Renaissance while cooking a popular, classical southern dish in celebration of Black History Month.

Opening

Welcome to the teaching kitchen! Today we are going to be making collard greens and cornbread! Has anyone ever eaten collard greens and cornbread before? Who made it? When did you eat it? Where did you eat it? (Allow time for answers and stories.)

February is Black History Month. Why do you think we’re celebrating in the teaching kitchen by making collards? (Allow time for answers.) Collards are very popular in the American south and a staple for the black community during the time of slavery. Collard greens and cornbread are considered soul food, and so today we will make them while learning about the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was period of literary, artistic and intellectual enlightenment during the 1920’s and 30’s lead by many prominent black writes and artists, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, to name only a few. The Harlem Renaissance gave recognition to black culture, art, and literature, and paved the way to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, which lead to desegregation and equal rights.

While we cook we will listen to music from the Harlem Renaissance and while we eat we will read poem by Langston Hughes called “A Dream Deferred”.

Procedures / Activities

Prep:

  • Gather ingredients, place cutting boards and knives at each table, and pass out collards and onions for students to chop.
  • Make the cornbread ahead of time. You can have one class make the cornbread for the next class if you would like, or you can prepare it beforehand and warm in the oven while the collards are cooking.
  1. Welcome students into the kitchen and have them wash hands.
  2. Introduce the lesson with the Opening (above).
  3. Go over proper knife skills and then have students begin working on chopping their vegetables into small pieces. The onions should be diced first and then brought the to stovetop to be sauted. Students should devein their collards first, then curl and slice them into thin strips (called a chiffonade).
  4. Students sautéing the onions can add the salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. As students finish chiffonading their collards, they can add them to the pans until everyone is finished. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan, cover, and let the collards steam for a few minutes.
  5. Have the students take their seats, elect a few students to help serve and pass out the food, and enjoy!
  6. While the students are eating, read poetry, listen to music, and have a discussion about the Harlem Reniassance.
  7. When the students are finished, have them clear their plates and wipe down their tables before leaving!

Extensions / Adaptations / Games

Read and listen to more poems, music, and stories by artists from the Harlem Renaissance.

Lesson Resources

CollardsandCornbread_PrepStation
CollardsandCornbread_RecipeCard