Ode to Kale

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This is not an ode to Norwood High School basketball / wall-e-ball great Chris Kale. This is an ode to the super veggie. After gardening for a few years, I have absolutely fallen in love with this under-appreciated, under-utilized plant. It is power packed with nutrients and health benefits.  Growing and eating kale is in the category of “I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do this,” along with make Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes, love all the ins and outs of basketball, and think Zoolander is the best comedy ever made (makes me laugh hard every single time! Hansel’s apartment, c’mon, nothing’s funnier than that).  Anyone looking to have a healthy, sustainable garden needs to have kale in the ground, and on the table.

Kale is just the best. Well, if you’re talking taste, it’s not really the best, but it checks off all the other boxes of everything you look for in a food. I am going to break this down from farm to table right now.

The kale plant it just the toughest SOB in the business. As long as the soil is remotely thawed, kale can grow. I prefer to transplant seedlings rather than start from seed, and there is no set time to do that, unlike many seeds where you have to wait until the last frost, or after the equinox, or before the third moon of the 8th month of the year of the dragon (I’m looking at you eggplant). Kale is in fact made sweeter as the weather gets colder, it does not care if there is full sun or partial shade, and can go a couple of days without water. This plant has one goal in mind: creating as many nutrients and anti-oxidants as possible.

To harvest kale just pick the leaves off the plant where the stem meets the stalk. One reason kale plants are key to a low-maintenance and sustainable garden is the “cut and come back” aspect of it. The second a leaf is pick, another one starts growing in its place. The constant growing and picking provides the gardener with a near endless supply of the leafy green for literally months at a time.  As mentioned before, temperature affects the flavor (but not the quantity) of the leaf, so planting early in the season can provide an opportunity to have different tasting kale depending on the month.

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Ok, preparing kale is the trickiest part of the whole experience.  Making this often bitter, always tough food enjoyable to eat* is not always easy. Honestly, what I usually do is just add it to anything that has a lot of other ingredients. Throwing a handful in with a strawberry, banana, and yogurt smoothie, and adding it to stir fry are the 2 most common ways I consume it.  When I have the time, I lay them out on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil on them, and bake them.  Look below for some suggested recipes that I consider “go to.”  If one or two recipes don’t work out, keep trying new ones.  With all the health benefits of kale, you should take an entire summer to find something that works for you.

Storing kale is easy and important because the stuff often grows quicker than you can consume it. It can last for about a week / week and a half with the stems down in a glass of water in the fridge (just be careful not to knock it over). Due to its badass, hearty nature, kale freezes very well.  If you have a flourishing plant, you undoubtedly will get sick of eating it.  Even if you take a week off, the leaves will continue to grow, so you have to keep picking it, to make room on the plant for more,….. and the cycle goes and goes.  When growing kale, investing in some freezer bags and freezer space will guarantee you have plenty of fresh, homegrown, nutrient packed leafy greens well into the winter.

Have I done it yet?  Have I convinced everyone reading this to drop everything and become kale farmers?  With a veggie that is easy to care for, has an extended growing season, is packed with nutrients, stores well in the freezer, and allows you to experiment in the kitchen, it’s hard to imagine why there aren’t kale plants all over the place.

KALE FO-EVA BABY!!!!

*The taste of kale is easily acquired.  It does take some “choking back” at first, but after a few servings, enjoyment does come.  If I was told a couple of years ago that I could rip a leaf off the plant and put it right in my mouth, I would not have believed it.

The recipes:

http://kalesmoothierecipes.com/

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-kale-chips/

http://www.howcookingworks.com/public/recipe/show/220

 

Here’s the science / nutrition to back up any claims made above:

 

This blog is by a kale fan, dietician, and cancer survivor

 

Don’t forget to click on the links on the left when shopping on Amazon, and check out the FCC photo gallery HERE. Thanks for reading, everyone!!

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Two Big Announcements

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog.  I can tell you the number of readers is steadily increasing every month, so thank you for spreading the word.  Also, I love getting quick emails that simply say something along the lines of, “ha ha, good post!,” or “you forgot to mention….”  At the risk of sounding cliche, it is very motivating to continue to write.  Which brings me to my first piece of news:

Announcement #1

Starting June 5th, I will begin blogging for stayworkplay.org. This is a web site aimed at attracting 20 and 30 somethings to live and work in New Hampshire. Posts will be up on the first and third Wednesday of every month and they will be different than what you see here. Note that I will stay consistent with my every Thursday posts here, and I will be posting links here and on Facebook for everything I write for Stay, Work, Play.

Announcement #2
The Firecat Central store is officially open for business. Here’s the deal: Below are three greeting cards with pictures I took.

Two very old Eastern European men.
Great for birthdays as people get older.

Card 1

A horse pulling the back half of a car
Great for: a random laugh / “thinking of you”

Card 2

An inviting beachside sunset
Great for: Get well soon, thinking of you, retirement

Card 3

Cards are $4 each and $10 for the set of three.*

Also available for purchase are all of the pictures that have been featured in different FCC posts. They are only pictures I have taken, so my apologies to all that I cannot within the law sell prints of the Orleans album cover or the Jump to Conclusions Mat. Clicking on the link below will direct you to the photo gallery where each picture is displayed, labeled, and priced.*

THE LINK:

firecatcentral.blogspot.com

To order, email the picture, size, and quantity to firecatcentral@gmail.com. All transactions will be done through PayPal.  Pictures will be developed by the Camera Store in Concord, NH, so your purchase will help support two small businesses.  I decided to use this place so I can screen prints before they are sent out, that way if something does go wrong I can take care of it before anything is sent to you, avoiding the sending-back / calling-customer-service / waiting-even-longer / not-buying-pictures-from-me-ever-again rigg-a-marole that is just no fun for anyone.

*All prices are not including shipping costs. Notice I didn’t mention handling. That’s just one benefit of dealing with firecat central, no handling fee. What is handling anyway?

Oh yeah, don’t forget about the Amazon Goldbox Daily Deals link on the left.

Thanks again for all the support

Ps.  By the way, I know for a fact that NO ONE checked Aldo Nova’s smash hit, so I am reposting the link here in case there are any brave souls:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6tOM0Xb2XY

Monday Song #21

Ok, so I decided to change the theme a bit for this week and instead of keeping it songs from different soundtracks I’ve purchased, I decided to make it “Snatch Soundtrack Month.” There were just too many songs to leave out so I decided I shouldn’t leave my other favorite ones off and deprive me faithful readers of all these great tunes. So enjoy, and again, these are obviously not the clips from the movie.

Albums at Thrify’s

Not too long ago, I was at Thirfty’s, a second hand store in Manchester, NH. I was perusing the record section and came across more than a few HIGH-larious covers from the ’70’s. I whipped out the iPhone camera and took pictures of the best of the best in order to share them with you accompanied with witty comments.  Enjoy.

Brothers Johnson

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While the delivery method is the same, there is no mistaking the Batman signal and the Brothers Johnson signal.

The Seekers

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Ok, we have the Teddy Prendergrast 8-track, and everyone has a set of keys, but did anyone grab those two bowls earmarked for mixing up said sets of keys?

Orleans

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“Alright guys, great photo shoot. Let’s shirt it up and head to the studio!” said the band’s soon-to-be-fired manager.

Jim Capaldi

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It’s a shame Capaldi’s down home, working man’s image and sound didn’t resonate with listeners as much as expected.

Kokomo

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Ok, I like the Great Gatsby era car on acid being driven by an enormous set of hands which aren’t touching the wheel. I like the  fact that its set in the middle of a medieval forest. What would really tie the scene together is a skunk just hanging on the side of the road.

Adlo Nova

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And last but not least we have good ol’ Aldo.  What can be said about him that you haven’t already thought?  Here’s a link to the title track off of “Twitch.”  Are you brave enough to check it out?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6tOM0Xb2XY

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Ambrosia would like to thank you on behalf of Firecat Central for reading this and every week.

Monday Song #20

This month’s theme for Monday’s Song is “Songs from Movie Soundtracks That I’ve Bought.” This is does not mean “The Best Soundtracks,” it’s just that I’ve only bought three or four soundtracks to movies in my life. The first one is from Snatch, which is an excellent disc. This video is obviously not footage from the film.

#1 Sarajevo

This week concludes the list of my favorite former / hopefully future travel destination.  It was great taking a walk down memory lane, I hope you all enjoyed the stroll with me.  So without further ado:

#1:  Sarajevo
Reason: captivating

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There is an indescribable quality to the air in the city holding the #1 spot for the “Top Places I Would Go Back to in a Heartbeat.” The mix of communist / Soviet-style architecture, huge Turkish quarter and reminders  everywhere of the war in the mid-1990s combine to create the most mesmerizing atmosphere I have ever seen. Being American and all, it’s sometimes hard to wrap my mind around the amount of history that exists in other countries. One afternoon I walked by a Mosque that’s 500-600 years old on the way to the street where World War I was started.  Another day I went on a tour and saw “the Tunnel” where Bosnians would smuggle goods underneath the watch Serbian army and end up in this family’s basement.

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There are a million stories and sites like the aforementioned, but what stays with me most is just the overall feel of the whole place. Even though I stayed in the worst hostel I’ve ever been in, got bedbug bites all over my torso, and had no way to do my laundry, I spent over a week there just walking the same two or three routes but seeing something new and/or interesting every day.  Walking by the old bombed out Olympic Arena (Winter 1984) and seeing groups of old men playing on giant chess boards painted on the sidewalk could never get old. Being repeatedly amazed at the brightness of the yellow and brown Holiday Inn where all the foreign journalists stayed during the Bosnian/ Serbian War could never get old. Seeing cutting edge architecture right next to burned out to government offices never gets old.
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Knowing your in a place that has seen unspeakable shit, but still thrives with friendliness, art, and diversity gives Sarajevo a place in my heart that just can’t be touched. It is really hard to describe exactly what spoke to me when I was there, but all of the extreme joys and pains that have occurred throughout its long history are all very present the moment you begin your visit. I was lucky enough to feel it once, and would do just about anything to experience it again.

Honorable mention / places I LOVE but will definitely make it back to

5) Amherst / Northampton area – Fond memories, natural beauty, and great food collide in Western Mass!!
4) Kingston Ontario – This hip, cobble-stoned Canadian College town on the shores Lake Ontario provide a peak into the history of the Loyalist side of things back when
3) Barton, VT – I have in-law family roots in this close-to-the-border town. I strangely feel a connection to it even though my family blood does not run through there.                                                                                                                                                                                            2) San Diego, CA – I heard the Sea World there is to die for, oh yeah and I would like to see my bro, too.
1) Galilee, RI – It’s just a part of the family.

Thanks in advance for clicking the link to shop at Amazon. Check out the Gold Box Daily Deals, Product of the Month, and the FCC endorsed books.  Thank you all for reading!!