Kale Chronicles

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

kale

Earlier in the summer, I planted 3 kale plants. Several people questioned me about this.

“Isn’t it too hot here for kale?”

“Isn’t it really hard to grow?”

“How are you going to get that to work?”

Well, here we are mid-July and my tomatoes are over 7’ tall and producing next to nothing, my cucumbers are producing nothing but flowers, my zucchini is just toying with me as it slowly commits suicide, and the poblanos just flower away and laugh at the thought of actually putting out a pepper. But, my little kale plants just keep growing and growing and growing!

A few days ago, it was time to harvest again and from those three little plants, I got a gracious helping of fresh kale. Usually I just make kale chips for myself because every other time I’ve tried a dish involving kale, the husband and little one reject it. I’d pretty much just resigned myself to the belief that I am the sole kale consumer in this house. However, I stood there gazing at this beautiful, tender, fresh home-grown loveliness and thought, “How crazy is this? One of planet Earth’s superfoods and I’m the only one eating it? Not today.”

I’ve written before about one of the most awesome cookbooks in my collection, “How to Cook Without a Book” by Pam Anderson. I can’t remember where I found this book, but I truly love it and I recommend it highly. As you have surely gathered from the title, the point is to teach some basic recipes and techniques so that you can incorporate these standards into your regular life without having to put much thought into it. I often go here for inspiration and fresh ideas. On this day, I pulled the book out because Ms. Anderson has included numerous variations to the theme for each of her basic recipes. So for lunch, I turned our kale harvest into a simple pasta with leafy greens, bacon and crushed red pepper. I told no one what the greens were. I simply said, “Here honey, have some pasta” and down the hatch it went! I have been on a conscious quest to get more dark leafies into our household diet, so this was a big win.

If you don’t know much about kale, I’ll say this: it’s really, insanely good for you. If you’re like me and want to eat more of it and its other dark leafy cousins, you can get all the info you want online. Or, here’s another of my favorite cookbooks you may wish to seek out, “Leafy Greens” by Mark Bittman.

Elizabeth Akre is the author of “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)”. Read, comment & be merry!  You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

The Magic Snack

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

For quite some time, I’ve read posts and comments from friends about kale chips.  I like kale.  I want to learn more about kale.  Kale is the superman of vegetables, according to many.  We need more kale.  But, I’ve never had kale chips.

There are two groceries at which I prefer to shop.  The one I frequent most often only carries kale that is already chopped and bagged.  And when I say chopped, I mean CHOPPED. I’ve picked up those bags a zillion times, looking, pondering, and coming to the conclusion that kale bits could never be considered a “chip.”  They’d be kale crumbs, at best.  Today, I went to my 2nd favorite grocery and I spotted it.  Now, it wasn’t just a bunch of kale.  No, this was a gargantuan bunch of kale.  Huge.  So, now I have no excuse to delay any longer on my quest to learn more, cook more and eat more kale. I’m making chips.

Before I tell you anything more, let me just throw in an enthusiastic “OMG.”  I’ll go so far as to say “Kale yeah!”

Looks like money, as Guy Fieri would say

This is my new favorite snack, hands down.  So easy to make, so delicious, so different and packed with super goodness.  I feel like I’m going to live forever all ready.  I’m eating them right now.  Okay, I confess, I’m on my 2nd batch.  But as far as I know, no one ever got fat from too much kale.

I’m sure there are many variations on the theme, as is always the case, but here’s how I did it.  I cut the leaves away from the rib and then tore the leaves into “chip” sizes.  Then, I washed the leaves and spun and spun and spun in my salad spinner to dry them well.  Add half the kale to a large Ziploc, add 1 ½ tsp olive oil, add rest of kale, 1 ½ tsp olive oil, close bag and gently shake and massage to coat all leaves.  Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with seasoned salt and bake at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes.  Viola!  Kale chips ready to munch on.

Crispy, crunchy chips made from the super-veg!

So, you’re probably saying something like, “Hey, Elizabeth, how much kale did you use?”  Well, you’re going to get the answer that drives my husband crazy – “Until it looks right.”  In this case, I tore enough leaves to fill up my salad spinner and took it from there.  I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking, “Kale?”  Never, ever, ever.  If you are that person, I challenge you to try this snack just once.  If you don’t like it, so be it.  You tried it.  If you do like it, you’ll be glad I made you do it!