Monday, December 19, 2011

Kale Campaign

I know it’s annoying, but I can’t help myself. Every time someone tells me they don’t like a certain food, I have a really hard time believing them. Usually, I think when people don’t like a certain food, what they really don’t like is a certain preparation, or a bad specimen. And what they need is exposure to a great version of that food, prepared well. (Or, I think they need me to cook it for them.)
It’s like the rosé phenomenon. Ten years ago, many people I know (including myself) would have said they did not like rosé. Now, we’re all about it. We can be discerning within the category, we’re drinking rosé in the winter, we like it with bubbles. Ten years ago I had only tried two or three glasses of rosé, and I didn't like them. I certainly wouldn’t consider chucking all red wine because of a bad glass, but my rosé sample size was small and I drew false conclusions based on insufficient evidence.
And so it was when my dear friend confided that he didn’t like kale. I tried to play it cool, but on the inside the kale campaign was officially launched. I began thinking of all the ways to woo a hater with kale goodness. 

There’s my favorite: raw kale salad with shallots andricotta salada. Or Susan Goin’s kale heaven with squash and faro. Or strips of hearty kale in traditional minestrone soup. Or lemony kale with pepitas under chili verde. Or kale with tofu and miso dressing. Or....
While my kale campaign may not have been a success based on original intent (we’ve moved from “I hate kale” to “I’m not a fan of kale”), it has been successful in another way. I have discovered and rediscovered so many wonderful ways to prepare kale. In this season with so few, fresh green options, kale ends up being the hero of many meals.  Here’s one of my new favorites. On cold, work-from-home afternoons, I’ve been eating it for lunch with a hunk of crusty bread. But I bet it would also be awesome next to a juicy steak, or under a fried egg.

Spicy Creamed Kale
2 T butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t red pepper flakes
1 bunch Tuscan kale, spines removed, chopped
½ cup half and half
1-2 ounces tomme or other firm cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
  • Heat the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 min.
  • Add garlic and red pepper and cook until onions are translucent. Stir to keep from browning.
  • Add the kale and stir to coat with butter and onions. Cook until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the half and half and cheese, stir until combined. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until the cream has thickened and the cheese is fully incorporated.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Magic Antlers

On most days, and definitely on good days, hundreds of ideas run through my head. I don’t think I’m alone here. They are certainly not all good ideas (maybe I should cut my hair like Grimes), but they don’t all suck either (orange clove vodka could taste good). But most of those ideas drop out just as quickly as they pop in. Ephemeral like a shooting star, they can spark and then fizzle in a matter of seconds. 

Upon inspection, every big to-do list and all my New Year’s resolutions have some underlying theme of holding on to more ideas. I yearn to nurture just a few more ideas into something real. To give just a little more thought, spend a few more minutes, and take some of the better ideas a bit further.
I love this print by Jenn Renninger I Will Gather the Stars for You. It’s just what I need: a mystical deer looking out for me, gathering all the good stuff that flitters around in my brain and funneling it down through his magic antlers into some digestible action plan. But short of a mystical deer, I have my blog. It’s a forum that inspires me to take an idea that made an appearance in my mind, and develop it just a tiny bit more.
On Thanksgiving, while making Honey and Herb Biscuits and Pecan, Bourbon and Butterscotch Bread Pudding, I heard a rerun of an interview with Nora Ephron.  She discussed the process she goes through, when blessed with a new idea, of determining which medium to take it to. Should it be a movie, a play, an essay, a book, a blog post? For Ms. Ephron, a blog post is a fleeting idea that she may not even agree with the next day. I liked this. It sets the standard low—a blog post does not need to be a work of greatness, but a forum to mature an idea, to lend focus to a flurry of thoughts, and to put something out there.
With this approach, I plan to start blogging again. Same place, same voice, and maybe a slightly broader theme. I am excited!