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….

Thoughts on dinner – and Potato Salad with Parsley Mint Pesto

I love dinner.  And I like to cook, so you would think that dinnertime in my house would be a happy time.  Tasty food, a glass of wine, witty banter – what’s not to like?  Here’s what – a tiny person who wants to sabbotage dinner.  That would be my sassy 2 year old who would gladly subsist solely on wee crackers shaped like animals, and thinks dinner is an evil plot to make her sit still in a chair and watch her parents try to have a conversation about something other than bodily functions.  The sabbotage begins while dinner is being made.  It goes something like this…

Scene: my kitchen. Potatoes are boiling, oven is heating, I am taking sausage from fridge and preparing to wash asparagus.

little goose: “Mommy mommy! I want to play frow up!”

acacia: “You want to play what?”

little goose: “Make my dollies frow up mommy!”

acacia: “You want me to make your dollies throw up?”

little goose: “YEAH!!!”

acacia: ” Eeewww.” sigh “Ok.”

5 minutes later, back in the kitchen washing asparagus. Asparagus goes in oven, potatoes are mashed, pan is heating for sausages.

little goose: “Mommy mommy! I want a snack.”

acacia: “No snacks, It’s almost time for dinner.”

little goose: “I want something else!”

acacia: “I didn’t even tell you what’s for dinner yet.”

little goose: “I don’t like dinner! I WANT SOMETHING ELSE!”

acacia: “But we’re having sausages for dinner!”

little goose: “I want sausage now. I want to play dollhouse. I want to watch strawberry shortcake. Uh-oh, I pooping.”

5 minutes later, back in the kitchen opening bottle of wine so it can “breathe”… Pouring glass of wine. Drinking wine.  Sausages in pan, asparagus out of oven, table almost set.

little goose: “Daddy’s home!”

acacia: “Hi, how was your day? Did you get the mail? Sausages for dinner. Let’s wash little goose’s hands!”

RJ (daddy): “Good. Yep. Yum sausages! Let’s wash your hands little goose!”

little goose: running away and giggling “NO, hee-hee! I hiding!”

RJ: sigh “Is that wine?”

We did finally have dinner that night, and little goose ate 3 bites of sausage, before declaring “I’m done” and (by the way mommy) “I don’t like dinner.”  So yes, its a tough audience, but I still love dinner. 

Here is my current favorite dish – its a great side at dinner, or one dish lunch.  Its pretty adaptable – use your favorite seasonal vegetable(s) with the potatoes.  My favorite is purple sprouting broccoli, which no one sells so you pretty much have to grow it yourself.  If you’d like to have this dish with purple sprouting – start some seeds now, plant them out in a month or so, and voila – next March you’ll have some purple sprouting broccoli!  In the meantime try it with regular broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, kale – you get the idea.

Potato Salad with Parsley-Mint Pesto (makes about 4-6 servings)

1.5 – 2 lbs Yukon gold or red potatoes – cut in about 1″ pieces

Olive oil

Kosher or sea salt

3 Cups Seasonal vegetable (broccoli, radish, asparagus, etc.) – cut bite size

1/2 Cup Roasted almonds (plus some for garnish)

2 Cups Parsley

3/4 Cup Mint leaves

1 Large Garlic clove

1/4 Cup parmesan chunks

1/4 Cup water

2 tsp Cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tb Capers – drained and roughly chopped

1 Tb minced shallot

3 Hard boiled eggs (put in COLD water, boil, turn off heat, wait 10 min.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put potatoes on a large rimmed sheet pan and toss with 1 Tb olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Roast for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss your chosen vegetable with 1 Tb olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt.  After 15 minutes, toss the vegetable mix into the potatoes and continue to roast 5-10 minutes, until veggies get some golden crispy edges.

For the pesto: combine the parsley, mint, garlic, parmesan, 1/2 cup roasted almonds and 1/4 tsp salt in food processor.  Pulse to chop everything up into small chunks.  Add 1/2 Cup olive oil and process to a chunky paste.  Add 1/4 Cup water and process just to combine. 

In a medium bowl combine 1/2 Cup of the pesto with the vinegar, dijon, capers and shallot.  Chop the hard boiled eggs and add to the bowl with the dressing.  Add the hot vegetables and toss.  Taste and season as you like with salt, pepper, more pesto, etc. and garnish with additional chopped almonds.  Eat this warm, room temp or cold. YUM.

NOTE: Save remaining pesto in fridge for up to a week, or freeze for later. Its great in vinaigrettes, spread on crusty bread, or tossed with hot pasta too.