Friday, April 11, 2014

Jane's Kale Farm

Something new - a guest post - with commentary by me at the end!


Ok – after years of gentle hints from my lifelong friend Diana, last year I started to eat kale , and actually like it and actually feel better when I do! (see the post for a Kale-Blackberry Smoothie - yep that's my blender, and Diana tells me that post is one of the most visited on this kale blog!)

So this is the year I am growing my own! 

I ran down to the co-op and picked up 5 plants – that seemed reasonable to grow and share.... Only it turned out there were 9 in a box so now I have 45 kale plants !! 

I figure that's still Ok because now it will be survival of the fittest ! 

Here are my potential Kale boxes... I have been counseled to "Go For It" and actually put them in the yard... But this seems safer... I have until tomorrow to decide !!!! 


Yea for Jane's Kale Farm!! Wow - there just might be some extra kale in eastern Tennessee to share, or even – gasp!, sell at a local farmers' market. I have encouraged my friend to take photos and send them to me throughout the growing season. 

Really, I am looking forward to seeing my friend's smiling face behind a vendor's table when she has a kale hedge and suddenly realizes that she can't drink more smoothies herself and has no more friends (or her real estate clients because yes, she also runs a company, crazy full-time) to whom she can surreptitiously slip her extra kale into their car's back seat or mailbox or front door. 

I don't think anyone really thought that being a market vendor would happen for me (including me!), but the fun of meeting our customers has become the reason we grow all of our garlic and choose to sell as much as possible at local farmers' markets plus to local chefs and food producers (versus over the internet). 

Be careful, Jane. Who knows where this first kale crop will lead? Perhaps the reason you've been such a terrific social worker and real estate agent is because you are really a born farmer who knows how to pay attention to the details for those you're trying to help and nurture. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - it's now on my friend's deck in spades!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Best April Fools Joke EVER! (even if it is a day late)

Yes, because I fell for it, at least for a minute, maybe even two. :)

Here it is:

The best health food EVER! 
(sorry - not)

I have been to Theo - I LOVE Theo - I so totally fell for this! 

I am so embarrassed. 

I LOVE laughing at myself. 

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate (and almost made it into a chocolate bar),

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Recipe: Kale Strata

Yes, yes, I know it has been MONTHS since I posted. Farming is full-time work, or should I say "full-time-plus" work, so all of my blogs have been post-less for months and months. For those of you who do wish to keep up with our farm though, I do manage to write short updates on our farm's Facebook page (our garlic is now fully planted for next year's crop, just in the nick of time, as winter really came early this year in SE Michigan).

In any case, here is a delicious and beautiful recipe featuring kale and other fall crops. Strata recipes are perfect for brunch or perfect for supper. Like casseroles, they are nearly "one-pot" meals. We served this strata for company at lunch with just a simple spinach salad and applesauce, which was perfect.

Full disclosure, this recipe takes some effort and time for assembly and cooking. It is not a quick, throw-it-together and forget-about-it type of meal. However, all the prep and assembly can be done ahead of time (which I did) so I had plenty of time to spend with our good friends, which is what good food is all about!

Kale Strata (inspired from Food and Wine)

• 2-1/2 Tbsp. butter
• 2# butternut squash (peeled, seeded, diced into 1/2" pieces - I weighed this out and saved the rest of the squash to use later)
• 1/4 cup olive oil (I rarely measure my oil, always using less than called for)
• salt
• pepper, freshly ground
• 4 medium leeks (trimmed of roots and using the white portion plus ~2 inches of the greens - slice down the middle length-wise to carefully clean)
• 3/4# kale, trimmed of most of the stalks, and then chop the leaves coarsely (I weighed the kale before I trimmed the stalks, but feel free to be flexible here)
• 4 (or more) garlic cloves, minced small - we're a garlic farm so of course we used more!
• pinch of crushed red pepper (I used powdered cayenne pepper)
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
• 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
• 3-1/2 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 8 large eggs (I used our own for this recipe!)
• 3/4# multi-grain bread, cut into 1" pieces (I weighed this rather than just guessing)
• 1/3 cup freshly-grated hard cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and butter a 9x13 inch baking dish (for use later).

2. In a large bowl, toss the diced squash with about 1 Tbsp. oil and season with a small amount of salt and pepper. Spread squash on a rimmed baking sheet (I first lined it with parchment paper) and bake for ~25 minutes at 425 until tender.

3. Now reduce the oven temperature to 325 F if you are going to bake the strata the same day or turn it off if you are going to bake the strata tomorrow. (I did not notice this temperature drop when I first made this recipe so it was likely 'over-done', but there were no complaints!)

4. While the squash is baking, clean and slice the leeks, heat ~1 Tbsp. oil in large skillet and cook over medium heat about 25 minutes until golden but not burned. Scrape into the bowl used to toss the squash with oil.

Cook's Note: the most useful new kitchen tool I have begun using this past year has been a "Simmer Mat" - please note that this statement is not an 'ad', just a statement of fact, which keeps many things from burning on our unpredictable stovetop burners. Thanks to our friend GB for giving it to us!

5. While leeks are simmering, cut up the bread into 1-inch pieces and place into the bowl that was used to toss the squash with oil.

6. Next, while the leeks are still simmering, peel and mince the garlic, wash the kale, shake dry, chop off the stems (we feed these to the chickens who pick them clean), and then chop the kale leaves. In the same skillet, heat the garlic, kale, red pepper and thyme seasoning, salt to taste, until kale is wilted and just tender (about 5 minutes, no more). Scrape out of pan into bowl with the leeks.

7. In a large sauce pan, melt about 2-1/2 Tbsp. butter, add the flour and cook over moderate heat (on that simmer mat) until a light golden paste forms, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes (this is not the time to be trying to look ahead in the recipe). Whisk in 1 cup of the milk and cook until very thick, which may be 8-10 minutes, whisking very often.

8. Remove saucepan from heat, slowly whisk in the remaining 2-1/2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of yogurt, honey, a small amount of salt and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon each). Let cool completely.

9. Beat eggs into the sauce with a whisk. (it was so much fun to watch the white sauce turn into a golden-yellow sauce from those gorgeous deeply colored yolks from our chickens)

10. Add the roasted squash cubes to the same bowl with the other vegetables and bread cubes. Mix all together until evenly distributed.

11. Then finally add cooled sauce to the bowl, carefully stir until all is mixed, pour mixture into the greased baking dish, let stand for 30 minutes, pressing down on the mixture occasionally to make sure the bread absorbs the liquid.

12. Here is where I covered the dish with foil and put it in the refrigerator over night. (Note: I brought the dish out of the refrigerator an hour before baking just to bring up the temperature for a bit.)

13. Bake the strata for 55-60 minutes at 325F. until almost set. Increase the oven temperature to 475F. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for ~15 minutes prior to serving.

14. Serves 8-10 easily as this is a hearty dish served with a simple salad and fruit for sides.

Here is the photo from, as we ate our meal much to quickly to photograph it myself. The dish met with RAVE reviews from my husband and all of our guests. It was definitely worth the time it took to make this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Where kale continues to be enjoyed beyond decoration on my plate (just asking, does anyone still do that anymore?),

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kale in hospitals? Yes!

It's not every hospital that has its own farm, but St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan has taken some of its 350+ acre medical campus (which of course was a farm before the land was sold to allow the building of the hospital plus multiple clinics, parking lots, and lawn) and is re-creating a farm that is growing organic food for the hospital and the community. The Farm at St. Joe's is leading the way for other health care institutions to create healthy communities and has won a major award from the Catholic Healthcare Association for this work.

I'm interviewed for this documentary as I do serve on The Advisory Committee for The Farm, but I am only a 'supporting actress' in this film. The main show is The Farm itself along with the love and commitment that the St. Joe's staff shows for this vital effort of nourishing and healing their patients and the wider community with healthy, delicious food. Our two farms work together to support these goals.

Farmer Dan Bair says it best with the closing line "Health care is happening here." :)

Please watch and please share widely. Who knows where and how far this happiness and good health will spread? Maybe you'll be seeing kale in your local hospital, too! 

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - It's a best-seller at a hospital-based farmers' market!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recipe: Blackberry Kale Smoothie

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day (a rare treat for a farmer after the growing season has started) when she told me about her kale smoothie recipe using blackberries. Wow, it sounded good! For some reason (not sure why) I have never made a kale smoothie with blackberries. I simply cannot wait for blackberry season to get here to make this so I will break down to actually buy some frozen blackberries (and some pre-chopped fresh pineapple - also a rare treat!) to make my own as soon as I can get to the grocery store. (which is not very often during growing season). 

Here is the recipe plus a photo and my friend's comments!

Diana – John and I decided you must have 364 days of kale and were scraping the barrel to ask me for a recipe (lol)! But here it is:

2 cups chopped/torn kale leaves (without big stems), 
I cup frozen blackberries, 
4 chunks of fresh peeled pineapple, 
water as desired  

I usually eat this with a hard boiled egg, or you can add a handful of almonds to the other ingredients in the blender! It's non-dairy and has nothing in it to bother me :) 

Thanks for always inspiring me to try harder. 
love Jane 

I told Jane to send me her recipe plus a photo and I would post it up on my kale blog and make her more famous than she already is - haha. :) (and yes she is very well-known in her own little corner of the world!)

Thanks, Jane. Now you've inspired me!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, for sure!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A book to read that ends with kale!

I don't think I've ever made a book recommendation on my kale blog, but here's a great book to read.  I won't tell you too much because I don't want to take away from both the pleasure and heart-ache of reading it yourself.

The title is Turn Here – Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works by Atina Diffley, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

I've already recommended it to a dozen friends.

The book is not about kale per se but ends with a kale recipe that I've made myself, without a recipe, over and over again!

Sesame Kale - makes 2-4 servings depending on appetite and level of kale passion

1 bunch of organic kale, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped
1-4 cloves garlic, minced: adjust according to your taste and social life (haha! we would easily use the 4 - or more - cloves of garlic!)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup water
roasted sesame oil
ume plum vinegar (or red wine vinegar or vinegar of your choice)

Heat olive oil in heavy pan. Saute garlic for 20-30 seconds, do not brown or burn! Mix in chopped kale. Add water and cover. Steam on low for 5-10 minutes, until desired tenderness (I always use the lesser of times to keep the kale as green and crisp as possible). Spread on a platter, sprinkle with roasted sesame seed oil and vinegar to taste (I often also sprinkle some sesame seeds over the kale).

As said by a friend of the author, "You could eat gravel with roasted sesame oil on it." I laughed out loud! What a great way to end the book. Try this recipe and read the book. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Springtime quotes!

When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed 
I feel such an exhilaration and health
that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time 
in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands. 

~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

~~ Margaret Atwood

I hope you can get out there to plant some kale and other cool weather Brassica vegetables!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD