Already I am full on into my 2013 garden planning. I have sketches in no less than (3) notebooks and random scratch paper that I will undoubtedly lose just before I need them the most (Early to mid May). I'm trying to not repeat this cycle from years past but life has a way of taking over and gremlins have a way of moving my cherished plans before I can put them into action....
So besides my nutty professor gardening planning antics I have been watching the previously full freezer decline in all things summer veggie and fruit related. Including our stores of: raspberries, strawberries, collards, kale, Swiss chard, green tomatoes, tomato sauce, edamame, pesto, and so on and so forth.
Besides surmising our vanishing nom noms, a fellow bloggers pondering kale post jump started me on a kale talk today. Inspired would be more accurate! There are few vegetables that both intimidate and give mental pause to so called adventurous eaters than greens.
Everyone has an opinion on how greens taste, how they should be prepared, and whether or not they like them based on a “experience”. I'll admit that just the word kale used to give me pause when I saw it on a menu or some healthy packaging for “healthy” treat. I vaguely remember having bitter kale as part of Seder meals when I was in Catholic school. It was the worst taste that stuck with me too far into my adulthood. If something resembling a kale leaf even crossed my visual path I looked the other way for something that conjured up fun and sweet; not boring and bitter.
My disdain and passionate hate for kale took a 180° turn about four years ago. My sons boy scout troop met at a church that had the most organized and adorable community garden. When waiting for the kids to finish up an activity I met the sweetest little eighty year old who talked to me about what she was growing in her tiny plot. She said and I will quote, “If nothing else, I always have Swiss chard and kale in my garden”. The former I had never tasted in my life, and the latter I smiled and nodded about but secretly loathed just the image being placed in my mind.
After quickly scrubbing my mind of all things bitter tasting we continued our talk which included how one would prepare a beautifully colored green like Swiss chard. I was given a couple quick no-brainer recipes and a nice bundle of both greens. With my arms full and my brain just as full of ideas I went home to try out something new with a heart warmed by the lovely gift of green and gratitude for the culinary & gardening knowledge that was shared with me that day.
From that day on after preparing our evening meal with both greens, my family and I became green food junkies! The next day with Google Search in-hand I made a beeline to a local nursery to find both kale and Swiss chard. Before this my ideas on food for optimal health included some form of zero calorie juice and iceberg lettuce. I would never have even considered putting something that green and bumpy looking on my plate God forbid in my mouth. Now I've jumped on the kale bandwagon and I am so not getting off.
The only issue I am having right now is I don't have enough of either green stored for the remainder of this cold winter season. Whether Lacinato/Dino, Siberian, Red Russian, or Redbor; Kale and Swiss Chard have come to be my favorite must have greens in the garden. They both are hearty plants that add oomph to salad, pair well with or without bacon when sauteed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are great accompaniments to soup, are great chopped and added to Guac, and I even drink both in a smoothies.
Do I hope to convert you into a Chard & Kale addict? Of course I do! The wisdom of a sweet little lady has been passed to me and I've carried the torch proudly. Now it's up to you to take the green challenge and add variety to your own outdoor spaces and at home dishes.