I caved for Kale Chips

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Yup.  I’m behind the times on this one, I know.  Wayyyy behind.  You are all probably like, kale chips?  Been there, done that, b’y! (although probably without the “b’y” part, unless you’re in Newfoundland).

Thing is, kale is something you can get locally grown here.  Other thing is, it comes in a huge 5kg bag.  Having not tried this dark green super food before, the Pie and I were a little leery of purchasing such a huge amount of it at once.  Then recently I saw these wee bunches of a frizzy kind of kale that were just the right size for two people.  I could finally see what all the fuss was about.

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.

Wash the kale well (as you should with any vegetable — it’s amazing what can get stuck in those leafy greens).  You want the kale to be as dry as possible.  If you have a salad spinner, give it a whaz in that for a while and see how that goes.  My kale was pretty rigid so I gave it a hefty shake and then bashed it against a tea towel for a while until I’d shaken most of the water drops off.

Kale Chips 2

Now you want to cut or tear your kale into chip-sized pieces.  The stems on mine were pretty tough so I make sure to get rid of that.

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Lay your pieces out on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Because I’m lazy (and I care about accuracy), I used my Misto oil sprayer, which pressurizes your own brand of oil and lets you spray it like an aerosol, minus all the gross things that come with aerosols.

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This allowed me to get a thin layer of oil on every leaf, rather than huge gobs somewhere and none somewhere else.  Anyway, then you use your fingers to massage the oil into the surface of every leaf.  If it’s not covered with oil it won’t get as crispy when you bake it.

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Sprinkle with salt and pepper (though less salt than you’d think, as kale is naturally a bit salty), or with any other toppings you like, such as cumin, chipotle, or even cheese, and toss, making sure the leaves are once again in a single layer.

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Bake for about 8-12 minutes, checking to make sure the leaves aren’t burning.  The cooked leaves are dark, even slightly brownish, and crisp like chips.  Allow them to cool (or don’t) and crunch away on this easy peasy snack!

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Summer Soft Tacos

While it’s in our immediate plans to learn how to make our own tortillas, we haven’t gotten there yet.  So for now we’re using store-bought corn tortillas and that’s working out just great.

Tacos and wraps are great because you can get creative with what you use.  You can use poultry, beef, pork, soy … whatever you want.  You can even use leftovers, add new spices, and come up with whole new dishes.  Plus they’re easy for when you don’t have a lot of spare time at night.  And kids like making their own.  So it’s a win-win situation for all.

This super-easy recipe takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and by my measurements, feeds 3 people and uses 10 small corn flour tortillas.  You can of course up the recipe for more.

Start by finely chopping up 1 red onion.

Put half that onion in a good-sized bowl and the other half elsewhere.

Then finely chop up 2 tomatoes and add them to the onion.

Ditto 4 leaves lettuce (Romaine).

And an avocado.

And a bunch of cilantro.

Toss.

Liberally season with salt and pepper and lime juice.  Set that aside to get all percolated with cilantro and lime goodness.

In a tiny bowl, mix 2 tablespoons chili powder with 1 tablespoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon corn starch.

In a medium saucepan, sauté up that other half onion with a clove or two of minced garlic (about 2 teaspoons).

Add in about 1 pound (450g) lean ground beef and stir until browned.  Add in the spice mix and cook for a few minutes longer, until thick and saucy.

Grate up some cheddar cheese and have some sour cream handy as you artfully arrange all your foodie bits around you.

Now take a tortilla and smooth on some sour cream.  Then sprinkle some of your tex-mex meat.

Scoop on some salad and a dropping of cheese.

Roll from one end to the other.

Like rolling a dead person up in a rug.  Or a burrito.  And eat that sucker.  Mmmm.

Quick and Dirty Veggie Sides

Let’s face it: unless you’re Martha Stewart (and if you are, hi Martha, how you doing?  I’m a BIG fan), you can’t whip up awesomeness in your kitchen with only the freshest ingredients every single night of the week.  So if you’re like me, you probably have a sizable collection of frozen vegetables in your freezer.  Fun fact for you: frozen vegetables actually contain more vitamins than the fresh ones you get in the grocery store, because they are flash-frozen at the peak of freshness.  And now you know.

The great thing about frozen vegetables is they’re ready in minutes and having them on hand saves you a trip to the store in the middle of a snowstorm.

Problem is, they’re a little on the boring side.  So here’s a quick way to add some kick-ass to your frozen food.

Get your frozen vegetables from their package to a large frying pan or flat saucepan.  My method involved smashing the package on the counter several times to loosen up the veggies.

Tonight we had peas and spinach.  Lots of lovely chlorophyll.

Add to that a tablespoon or two of butter, some minced garlic, and some fresh herbs.  I used basil here.  Some salt and pepper if you’re feeling sassy.

Heat on medium until the vegetables are thawed and the excess water is absorbed.  Add a few tablespoons chicken broth and stir until that is absorbed as well and the vegetables are tender. 

Serve hot!

Fresh Eggs

You buy a carton of eggs at the grocery store.  If you just got ’em, that means they must be fresh, right?

Wrong.

While those eggs are still fine to eat, the freshest of fresh eggs, for us urban folk, generally come from farmer’s markets or produce exchanges.  If you are fortunate enough to have access to fresh eggs, then your cakes and custards will be the fluffiest and most tender.  Congratulations.

Here is a quick test to determine how fresh your eggs are, and it was taught to me by Miss Awesome (not her real name, but, surprisingly, pretty close).

Take your egg.  Plop it in a bowl of water so it is completely submerged.  If it sinks, it’s fresh.  If it floats, it’s not.

The reasoning behind this is because egg shell is porous (which is why you shouldn’t put your eggs in the door of your refrigerator, as they’ll absorb all the smells of your fridge), and over time air leaks in through the shell.  So you can tell that your egg has been around for a while if it floats, because it’s had time for the good stuff inside to shrink and for the shell to absorb air.

And now you know.  Eggs.