Friday, February 25, 2011

Kale and Paczki??

For at least one writer, this unlikely food pairing is a sure sign of spring. I encourage you to read the article Signs of Spring: Paczki and Kale by my good friend Kim Bayer (who also writes TheFarmersMarketer blog and has been a major inspiration for writing my own blogs).

Be sure to read the comments and look for the one that made me laugh!

Do I dare confess that I have lived in Michigan for 23+ years now and still not had a paczki? :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate (but probably not a filling for my first paczki)!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Kale starts to sweeten up in March"

.........but don't we all?" This is the best line from this simple stir-fry kale demonstration on YouTube by Jacqueline ODonnell, a chef at The Sisters Restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland!

A quick video encouraging kale consumption ("this is not your granny's brown cabbage" - another great line!). Worth a peek just to hear the chef's wonderful accent and the background music. (So sorry you have to endure the short advertisement before the kale demo.)

I stumbled on to this clip while browsing the web looking for a savory pie recipe using kale and garlic in the filling.

Now back to sorting through years and years of our 'stuff' and packing for the move (finally!) out to the farm, which should get done in March.  I can't wait to be moved and able to get back to really cooking again!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe: Slow-baked beans with kale (my version)

My last post pointed you to the recipe printed in the New York Times for Slow-baked Beans with Kale. I made it yesterday, tweaked it a little for what I had in the house, and the dish was delicious. Even my husband, who grew up with canned baked beans each Friday night (and also grew up to hate baked beans), enjoyed this recipe. It was a risk for me to make baked beans, but I felt confident that this dish would not be the same as what he knew and still intensely dislikes (which is really rather amazing as my husband LOVES food!).

Here is my recipe and some photos:


1 bunch kale, stemmed and washed in two changes of water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 yellow sweet pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 # white beans, picked over and soaked for at least four hours and drained (I soak over-night and then do a quick boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes with a piece of Kombu before draining to help reduce the gas forming propensity of beans)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste, dissolved in 1 cup water
4 cups additional water
1-2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup (I used grade D maple syrup from a local source)
Salt (scant or to taste) and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the kale. Blanch for two minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, squeeze out water and cut into ribbons. Set aside. (See my photos of this process below - I will try skipping this step next time.)
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large ovenproof casserole. Add the onion, carrots pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the dissolved tomato paste, and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the drained beans, the remaining water, maple syrup, salt and pepper.. Stir in the kale, bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven. Bake 3-5 hours until the beans are tender and creamy. Taste and adjust salt and/or sweetner.

Note: Make sure that the beans come to a simmer on top of the stove before placing them in the oven. Do not use old beans, which will not soften no matter how long you simmer them. If the beans do not soften in the oven after a couple of hours, raise the heat to 300 degrees. If you live at a high altitude, raise the oven temperature and let the the beans bake for longer.

Yield: Serves 10-12.

(Photo: Vegetables and traditional bean pot)

 (Photo: Blanching the kale - first I removed the large tough stems and chopped the kale leaves - then blanched the chopped kale in boiling water inside a colander in the smaller pan in front on the left, transferring to the colander in the stockpot on the right containing ice water, then draining the cooled kale and transferring to the large stock pot in the back on the left. Repeat, repeat. This back and forth was way too cumbersome, so next time I will blanch whole leaves first in a big pot, transfer to a sink filled with ice water, and then chop (like the original directions said to do). However, I may even skip this step entirely next time to see if it makes any difference in final taste and texture of the kale.)

 (Photo: Kale, beans, etc in the large stock pot heating up before transferring to an oven-proof baking container.)

(Photo:  Beans etc transferred to the bean pot. This whole recipe needed a second dish, too. Cutting the recipe in half would fill this bean pot just perfectly.)

 (Both pots almost ready to go into the oven.)

 (Photo: Both pots in the oven, complete with their lids. Although I intuitively thought I should cover these pots, I had to read the original recipe 3 times to see where it said to cover them!)

These are great hot, warm, room temperature, and also cold! I have already sampled them at each stage, including right out of the refrigerator for breakfast this morning. :-)

Another great way to use a bunch of kale! Enjoy. :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, including Super Bowl Sunday!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kale for the Super Bowl

This past week, I've had several other food bloggers post comments on my kale blog, so I think the enthusiasm for kale is continuing to perk right along without slowing down. If I had had any doubts about that, today I saw that a recipe for Slow-Baked Beans with Kale is in the #2 spot for "most emailed articles" on the New York Times.

This easy, hearty (for these cold, snowy, icy days so many of us have right now!), and delicious sounding recipe sounds like a perfect dish for a Super Bowl Sunday gathering. I'm just back from a vacation in Seattle (where 49 degrees felt like summer, even on the moist days), so it's time to stock up on fresh vegetables again like "4-season kale" from our local Farmers' Market on Saturday morning.

I'm not sure what else we'll make/serve/eat or even what we are doing on that day, but I'm going to check my pantry shelves and then get any missing ingredients to start making these beans.

The #1 emailed article right now is Mark Bittmann's Food Manifesto for the Future. I would guess that most people seeking out more info about kale (and thus have landed at my kale blog) will find themselves nodding in agreement with the ideas he is presenting in this article. For those who have been actively reading and changing their diets over the past several years to contain more local and sustainably grown foods (and food that is recognizable as food instead of processed food-like substances), there is not much if anything that is new. However, the article is a very good summary of many points of concern and call to action for our government, industries, and individuals. Bittmann does not specially call out for organically grown foods nor does he specifically urge people to start growing their own foods, two additional points I would have made, but his overall messages clearly point the way to an agriculture and food system that is sustainable. I do urge you to take a minute to read the article and think about what may be new for you and what may be the next step you can take to "vote with your fork" for the world you want to see.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, even on Super Bowl Sunday!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD