...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Kale Krazy

Baby Red Russian Kale in our garden
You may have noticed that some people are krazy for kale these days.  I couldn't be more pleased that this long under-appreciated, nutrient-packed vegetable is finally getting the love and attention it deserves.  Some folks are simply obsessed and are trying to get as much kale as possible into their diets-- there are plenty of recipes floating around out there these days for everything from kale chips to kale smoothies.  There is, of course, some comic relief as well.  I knew kale had finally made it big this past year when I visited a neighborhood restaurant and there were three kale dishes on the seasonal menu.  Shortly thereafter I popped into the natural foods co-op to buy more kale seeds (because I didn't feel I had planted nearly enough kale in my garden) only to find that all varieties of kale were the only seeds completely sold out.  Now it's farmers' market time and everyone's clamoring for clean, local kale; if you don't get to the market within an hour of it opening each week, there's a good chance the mounds of kale will already be sold out (or at least picked over.)  Kale has a boatload of health benefits, but I truly like it for the flavor.  Here are the most common ways we use kale around the homestead:

(In no particular order)
1.  Juicing
2.  Sauteed on a pizza
3.  In a smoothie
4.  Kale chips
5.  Boiled with pasta
6.  In veggie lasagna
7.  Sauteed in a quesadilla
8.  Shredded in a massaged kale salad
9.  As a substitute for spinach in a savory spinach and cheese quick bread
10.  Shredded and added to Salad Mix along with red cabbage.

Recently I made some kale chips with several bunches of organic kale I got for next to nothing.  But they were too many chips for us to eat before they got a little "stale" so I ground some of them up to make "kale salt."  Of course, I knew I couldn't possibly be the first one to think of this idea...and #4 above proves that.  Now I use the kale salt to season popcorn, add to homemade ranch dressing, or to sprinkle in soup or on pizza.  Wherever you want a little more kale (if you're not already getting enough) and would be adding seasoning anyway.  It's so versatile and definitely another way to get kale into little ones' bellies if they're not otherwise willing.

This is another kale recipe I tried this past week and was pleasantly surprised by how well the flavors went together.

Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut and Sesame Oil (Gluten Free)
Serves 4
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day.  The original recipe calls for farro, but I used gluten-free steel cut oats.

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. toasted sesame oil
2 T. shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce (I make sure mine is gluten-free and organic)
3 1/2 lightly packed cups chopped kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed (and reserved for juicing)
1 1/2 c. unsweetened flaked coconut
2 c. cooked steel cut oats or other whole grain

Preheat oven to 350F with two racks in top third of oven.  In small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together olive oil, sesame oil, and shoyu.  Put kale and coconut in large bowl and toss well with about two-thirds of oil mixture.  Spread kale evenly across two baking sheets.  Bake for 12-18 min., until coconut is deeply golden brown, tossing once or twice along the way.  If kale mixture on top baking sheet begins to get too browned, move to lower rack.  Remove from oven and transfer kale mixture to medium bowl.  Taste.  If you feel it needs more dressing, add and toss.  Add steel cut oats and combine.  Serve warm, room temp., or straight from the fridge (this makes great leftovers.)

Kale Salad


The Eve of Summer Break

We are bursting with excitement to officially being our summer break from school after tomorrow.  We're hoping to start our days gradually then explore the city, enjoy concerts in the parkswading pools, free kids activities, the public libraries.

In the meantime, I've been blogging less and doing more outside.  We had a short weekend stint caring for V's classroom chickens one last time (though they're now settling at her teacher's home instead of school), we've camped along the Might Mississippi, and have spent time hanging out with friends by the lakefront.
Mickey and Maggie pecking around the backyard.  The LUH looks pretty
good with a couple of hens.

One other item I've added to my summer routine is walking by the lake early in the morning in lieu of the gym.  Beautiful sunrises!  I've always dreamed of having this early morning time in the summer all to myself.

I never get tired of this view.

And beautiful sunsets too
My most recent project:  turning an olive oil can into a pot.

Poked some drainage holes in the bottom with a can/bottle opener
Made sure there were no sharp edges around the top
Planted some flowers.  We'll see how weathered the
can looks by summer's end.
I've been hanging on to this recipe for too long and now the ramps in the woods are probably all gone.  But if you're interested, bookmark this for next year.
Ramps in Saffron Brine
Pickled Saffron Ramps
And how does our garden grow?

Purple Mizuna and Scarlet Frills Mustard
Salad Mix 
Shungiku (Chrysanthemum Leaf)
Red Russian Kale
Salad Turnips in need of thinning
Part edible, part annual
Sugar Snap Peas
Our little evening hangout at the homestead