I 'm a member of something called "community supported agriculture"--or a CSA to foodies in the know. I suppose I could put on high-falutin' liberal elitist airs and talk about how I'm supporting locally grown food, buying "organic", reducing green house gases, and I don't know--saving the whales in the process, but that's not really accurate. Truth told, I joined because I'm too lazy to get up Saturday morning and get to a farmer's market. Going to farmer's markets for me is a lot like exercise--I know I should do it, and I always feel better after I do, but somehow it always gets short shrift on the priority list. The beauty of a CSA is that I get all that liberal elitist produce without the weekly schlep to some local church's parking lot. All I do is pay my fee for the season, and once a week a very nice man in a refrigerated truck delivers--to my house no less--a crate of something that someone else had to plant, water, and harvest. I get organic locally grown produce and he gets my money, usually in February or March when he needs it most. It's a win-win. Except for one significant and regrettable exception: Kale.You see, with a CSA, you cede to your farmer friend all decisions about what goes in the weekly box. You get not only what's in season, but what your farmer has decided to grow. For the 20-week growing season, he becomes the Big Brother of your diet. Four huge bunches of basil? Count on pesto this week. Eggplant? Time for ratatouille. And for whatever reason, for about 6 weeks every summer, I get kale. Lots and lots of kale. I didn't even know what kale was until I joined this CSA. The first time I saw it, I thought it was tobacco. (I do live in Virginia, after all.) It's a huge dark leafy green. That's no typo; it's "green" the noun--not the adjective, like collards, spinach, and chard.
But what do you do with this crinkly green stuff other than use it for garnish? I consulted my father--the preeminent Southern gentleman, and he advised that his mother used to put it in a pot with filled with about an inch of salted water, and she'd just cook it down all afternoon with some hog jowls. Yep. Hog jowls. Pregnant pause followed by deadly silence.
Fortunately, I live in the 21st century, and there's this thing called the Internet. Type in "Kale Recipes", and one pops up that didn't involve weird pieces of animals, and was actually tasty--Kale chips. Best of all, it uses gobs and gobs of kale that I didn't have to cure and smoke or pair with pig parts.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray Pam on a cookie sheet.
2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the thick stems and tear the kale into bite size pieces. Do not be in the least bit tempted to inadvertently pop a piece into your mouth, unless you want to experience the sensation of a being a cow chewing its cud.
3. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle generously with seasoning salt.
4. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt--about 10 to 15 minutes.
The end product is salty, crunchy, and tasty. Really. It's also very delicate. These aren't the kind of chips for plunging into a hearty sour cream and onion dip. You still need Ruffles for that exercise. You just eat kale chips. And make sure you do so in about 24 hours. They don't quite keep.
P.S. For those of you so inclined, my CSA can be contacted at Virginiagreengrocer.com. If you sign up, mention this blog, and tell them to go easy on the Kale.