Friday, October 15, 2010

Of Cones, Cabbages, and Kale

The kind of thing I shoot when I'm working...
For the past three weeks the 2010 World Equestrian Games kept me hopping. In my other life, I'm and equine photographer and writer - someone who concentrates on the equine industry as their photographic and journalistic specialty. Obscure to be true. So for the past three weeks I've worn my other hat exclusively.  I've shot over 6000 frames and posted 230 times on my other site.  I've been working -- working my tail off -- just not here. That's what I love about cooking -- it's not horses...
Puppy-dog is another kind of tail that was working hard while I was gone. Beau Beau the Magnificent Westie definitely noticed the lack of Mom around the casa.   He had a bit more crate-time than usual during my horsey induced hiatus from home. Ordinarily, he comes with me when I work  Horse people are pretty much dog people. There are dogs everywhere at outdoor competitions and are usually pretty welcome.  But for WEG dogs were verboten.  So Beau had to stay home.  If left to his own devices he runs a-muck - getting into all kinds of puppy trouble. So he's confined to his quarters when no adult is is home to supervise his activities. Preferring to ignore his Kong with it's night night cookie stuffed inside, he views his confinement as the perfect opportunity to lick, lick, lick all the hair off the furthermost part of his cute little Westie backside.

Beau, being a true representative of his species, adheres staunchly to accepted canine wound protocol:  once something is irritated it must be licked, licked, licked, until it's a crusty, hairless, bright red mass of owie. So Beau became the proud recipient of an I'm sorry I left you alone so long gift from Mommy -   a  pretty turquoise lick-stopping cone.  It cramps his olfactory style long enough for his Westie backside to heal.

While I was gone, things also ran a-muck in the garden. Not weeds - here are never many weeds in the no-till garden - one of it's benefits. It's just that I  wasn't around much to keep up with what was going on out there. There seemed to be a lot more gnawed-out places on most of my previously unblemished leaves. The cabbage moths have taken over. I'm waging war with these little suckers. Pretty - as they flit flit flit like sweet little butterflies, roaming from plant to plant - laying little egg-y bombshells of insect destruction as they go. Eggs that will burst forth (burst works here) with nasty little looper worms that devour any Brassica leaves they can lay their little cabbage-wormy mouths on. So I spray with Neem oil and hope for the best. I have hope but think I may be losing this battle...
Destructive beauty... You can see where previous interlopers have wreaked havoc on the leaves.
We love anything from the cabbage family. If it's sprout-y or leafy, or cabbage-like, we love it. So I planted a bunch of fall garden cabbage family stuff.   And so, like the flaw with those Japanese beetle traps, my garden lures the moths from miles around. But I will vanquish them - if I have to squish every worm and swat every moth, I will conquer!

Beauty, great flavor, and super healthy to boot!  Kale's got it all...

Kale is a lovely member of the Brassicas. It grows quickly and is classified along with lentils, as a super-food. I love reading posts from Diana at 365 Days of Kale.  She loves the stuff almost as much as I.  It's versatile and it's so good for you.  If you can grow lettuce, you can grow kale. So I grow kale.

I present one of my favorite ways to make kale.  I was taught this little technique (it's really not complicated enough to be called a recipe) by my California based vegetarian niece Erika.  It is the simplest of preparations. Sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic, salt and red pepper flakes, kale is transformed into the sublime! 

Stripped from the stems and washed.
Wash well, especially if you buy your kale at the market. Commercially grown Kale is grown in sandy soil. So wash two or three times.  I don't think there's anything worse than taking a bite something only to chomp down on a grain of sand.

 In olive oil, saute thinly sliced garlic until just barely golden. Then add hot pepper flakes.

Add your kale a bit at a time, allowing it to wilt down. Eventually you'll be able to fit it all in the pan. Saute until just wilted, add your salt to taste and your ready to eat. But don't count on any leftovers.

Sauteed Kale:

Serves 3-4 if you're lucky (there's never enough to go around here)

1-2  pounds of kale, washed well, leaves stripped from their stalks and sliced crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces (Trust me - be careful here.  I don't want to bore you with the gory kale chopping details from my past but do be careful! )
2-3 Tbs. Olive Oil 
2-3  cloves of garlic sliced thinly
1- hefty pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste - if you like spicy, add more)
1- tsp. salt (or to taste)

In a large saute pan, add oil and garlic slices, heating them together on medium high heat.  Just when the smell of toasting garlic begins to waft up, add the pepper flakes. Saute for a few seconds and then add the washed and sliced kale.  Toss kale in oil mixture until the kale begins to wilt.  Add salt, toss well and serve.  

Note:  Broccoli works well here. Just steam it for a minute or two in the microwave and then add it to the oil/garlic/pepper mixture and continue to cook.

I know I keep repeating myself but there's never enough of this to go around!  My rule is to try to make too much and then hope there's something left for tomorrow's lunch, but there never, ever is...

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