Edible Plants: 1
I know I said I was going to write about citrus on page 69, but have changed my mind. Lately I have been thinking about not eating enough things like kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, etc. I used to eat a lot of these delicious plants, but somehow they fell off my radar within the past few years. I know that the darker the greens, the healthier. I don’t know anything about the nutritional profile, or the history. Perhaps the book and a little other research will shed light upon this.
My book says that kale was the primary green vegetable consumed at the end of the Middle Ages throughout Europe. It is a Scottish name which was actually spread via writers from Scotland who wrote about rural life there – it was actually a synonym for dinner! They are part of the Acephala Group of brassicas. It is a descendent of wild cabbage that does not develop a head. They range from flatter leafed to extremely curly and compact. Some varieties people tend to eat, while others are reserved mainly for animal feed.
In Southern cooking, kale, as well as other deep greens, are often simmered with a large chunk of meat to tenderize the leaves, as well as impart delicious meaty flavor. In my own cooking, I usually used it as I would spinach – throwing it in at the end of a soup, using it in stir fries, and even in pasta or pizza sauce. Why not add in a nutritional powerhouse whenever possible? (I am writing this to remind myself to start doing this again.)
Nutritionally speaking, kale is packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to our friend Wikipedia, it is “very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxathin, and reasonably rich in calcium.. indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells… also a good source of carotenoids.” While cooking it reduces the anti-cancer properties, boiling, steaming, microwaving (ew), or stir frying is does not diminish its nutritional profile very much. So, making a lovely massaged kale salad is the best way to go if you want to maintain those cancer fighting properties.
Something else I used to make often with kale (since we got so much of it in our winter CSA) was a simple sauteed side dish. My mom showed me this one, actually, and all you do is rinse it, de-stem it, chop it up if you want. Then mince a whole bunch of garlic, melt butter or toss olive oil into a big pan, and lightly brown that. Next, toss in the kale, add salt and pepper, and allow it to wilt to your liking. Sometimes I would grate some parmesan into it, and squirt lemon over the top. You can also add in any herbs you would like, some cayenne pepper would be good. Or even take an Asian twist and use some toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds! I will make something with kale within the week – if I do not, definitely call me out 😉
Oh, and please comment letting me know any awesome kale recipes you have up your sleeves. I know somebody does!
And Two Annoucements:
- A few days ago, my mom reveled she has this cute sprout making tower. Tonight we started our first batch! You put 1 tbsp seeds into each tray, and then pour some water into the top. It trickles down through all the trays via these nifty siphons, and after a few days voila! Sprouts! Cannot wait to put them in ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. So good. I know you can do this with a mason jar and screen, but sometimes you gotta love random toys like this one. We also have a yogurt maker… Stay tuned.
- My dad hung up the awesome chalkboard I groundscored from this alley while I was living in Chicago. I have towed it from there to Michigan, to DC, and now back here. It is finally being properly utilized. I need smaller chalk – all I have is awesome day glow sidewalk chalk (which will get used, but not on this sign). I will write about this recipe tomorrow.