Growing Kale for the Apocalypse – Part 1

First of all, yes, I AM one of those crazy nutballs who thinks there might possibly be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions headed our way.  I have my doubts about the flaming asteroid and zombie theories, but I do think there is a very real possibility that our lifestyle choices may lead to epidemic sickness, poverty and major hiccups in a seriously flawed industrial food system. 

I don’t know about you, but I like to be prepared.  Blame it on my back-woods Alaska upbringing, but when those zombies start to swarm, I want my community to be ready, and I’m pretty sure the answer to this is kale.  Hear me out. 

Top 5 reasons to grow kale for the apocalypse:

1. Kale, is hands-down the easiest thing to grow in my garden – all year round – and it and many of its brassica cousins will grow without much fuss, pretty much anywhere other than the desert.  If you live in the desert, you need to move.  Right now.

2. Kale is tasty.  I realize you may need some convincing.  I will dedicate some time to this later and in future posts.  But seriously, people – olive oil, garlic and salt can make even cardboard taste good.  Am I right?

3. Kale is super nutritious. In addition to most of the vitamins you’ve ever heard of, kale also contains Calcium, Iron, fiber and even protein.  If you combine  it with a whole grain you will have just about all the nutrients you need to fight zombies.  Plus, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough, you will be regular. 

4. Kale can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled, fermented –  it keeps well even after you pick it, so if you need to be on the move, you can take a munchy kale snack, a jar full of kale seeds, and get on the bus Gus.

5. No one wants to steal your kale. When the feces hits the fan, and roving bands of hooligans come looking for loot at your house, they will not be looking for kale. I’m all for planting fruit trees and having chickens and making your own butter and whatnot, but in the apocalypse, those things will become “loot”.  They may mysteriously disappear, while your kale will always be there for you!

Now that I have convinced you of the worthiness of kale in your apocalypse emergency kit – let’s start with step #1 to growing kale for the apocalypse.  You might think that the first step would be preparing the soil, or planting some  seeds.  But before you tear out your lawn and plant kale there instead, I think its best to start with:

Step 1: Learn to love eating kale, delicious kale.

If you don’t already love kale, let’s start now.  Here is a really simple sauteed kale recipe, that you can make with most any green (kale, chard, beet greens, turnip greens, radish tops…).  I make it for dinner, often with mashed potatoes and a protein of some sort.  And then the next day I can have my Favorite Breakfast Ever (pictured above): Mashed potatoes with crispy kale and a fried egg.  Yum.

Simple Sauteed Kale

1 large bunch kale, stems/ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

splash balsamic vinegar

Start with a large pan, heat it over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the oil, then add the kale leaves, stir and cover to wilt for about 1 minute. Uncover and stir once, letting the kale get a little bit crispy at the edges for about a minute.  Add the garlic and a good sprinkle of kosher salt, stir and cook just 30 seconds more, until the garlic smells great, but before it starts to brown. Turn off heat and taste for seasoning.  Add a splash of balsamic and enjoy!

For breakfast the next day (aka my Favorite Breakfast Ever): Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat, and add a couple tablespoons olive oil. When hot, crack in an egg, and next to that put a pile of cooked kale, and a pile of mashed potatoes.  When you flip the egg, also stir the kale and potatoes so they are warm through, but also a bit crispy at the edges.  Pile the potatoes & kale on a plate, top with the egg.  Add anything else you like (sriracha, cheese..) and Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 2….

Aaaaalmost Summer

 

Ahhh June.  55 degrees and gray skies with a chance of drizzle. Summer solstice is 2 days away, yet I will be wearing my sandals with woolen socks until Seattle’s actual 1st day of summer – July 5. But we bozos who live here, we hang in there, because we know its just about to get reeaaally good. For about 2 weeks.  But its totally worth it, right?  Right?

Anyway, though I would love to be making chopped salads from the garden every day until I turn green from chlorophyll, I am still making hearty dishes to warm me up from the inside.  So here is a recent favorite for all of you who need a little warming up.  It is slightly adapted from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Melissa Clark. She also writes for the NY Times, and her recipes are always right up my alley – straightforward, hearty and mouthwatering good. If you are one of my friends in New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin or pretty much anywhere but the Pacific Northwest, turn up the swamp cooler, put on a hoodie, and preheat your oven.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon and Olives – adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

*Serve this with polenta, buttery noodles, or just in a bowl with a spoon

2lbs pork shoulder – cut into 2 inch chunks

Kosher or sea salt

2 TB cooking oil

1 large shallot or 1 small red onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 TB brown sugar

1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes

1 Cup  dry red wine (or use 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar & 3/4 cup water)

5 anchovies (I don’t care if you don’t like them, put them in)

2 – inch piece cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

2 big sprigs marjoram or rosemary

2/3 Cup pitten green olives

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Season the pork pieces with about a tablespoon of salt.  In a dutch oven or other heavy pan, warm the oil over medium high heat and sear the pork in batches (don’t crowd the pan man).  Brown on 3 sides, this takes 8-10 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the pork, and transfer pork to a plate as it is done. 

Turn the heat down to medium, add the shallot/onion and garlic to the porky pan and cook, stirring a few times, for 1-2 minutes.  Put the pork back  in the pan and add the sugar, tomatoes, wine, anchovies, cinnamon, bay and marjoram or rosemary.  Cover with a lid or carefully with foil, and put in the oven to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Remove pan from oven and add the olives.  If you’d like it to be a bit thicker, leave the lid off and simmer over medium heat until it thickens a bit.  It will thicken up as it cools also.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over  polenta, noodles, or eat it from the pot while standing over the stove in your woolen socks in the middle of June.