We have been harvesting our 5-6 varieties of kale for the past couple of weeks after we had our first hard frost, enjoying it both cooked and raw. I am one of these odd sort of folks who actually eats the decorative kale on my plate at a restaurant. After giving others a chance to follow my lead, I usually end up eating the kale from the plates of my friends or family, too. However, after two seasons of growing our own kale, and growing different varieties than the stiff curly kind found in grocery stores, I am now convinced that the typical variety of kale most people have seen (and maybe tried to eat) gives kale a bad name.
It is going down to ~15 degrees tonight here in southern Michigan. I don't really know how cold tolerant our kale varieties are, so I have taken the chicken's way out by harvesting it all this afternoon. It is sooooo good that I really did not want to chance losing any to the severe cold dip we will have tonight, which is forecasted to be followed by snow and freezing rain tomorrow night. From just 6 short rows (maybe 3 feet each) I have been harvesting kale for regular consumption for the past several weeks and today filled up a huge grocery bag with the kale just jam-packed in there. I want to try to freeze some for future use during the winter for adding to stir-frys, soups and stews, or even just as a delicious topping for baked potatoes.
Next summer, in addition, to planting even more of my heritage dried beans (those seeds are all dried, labeled, and packed for 2008 planting with all extra beans ready for soup making this winter), I want to plant at least twice as much kale.
Kale is off the charts when it comes to being loaded with molecules that are both antioxidants and have other health-promoting benefits (including cancer-fighting activity), too. I have a friend who has survived her brain tumor for years and years beyond the expectations of her oncologist. It could be just good luck or the reason may be that every morning she adds two handfuls of fresh kale to the basic soy shake recipe on my web site to start her day with a cornucopia of "cancer-phyting" phytochemicals.
Here is my original recipe, developed even before the word "smoothie" made it to the Midwest!
Diana's SuperSoy and Phytochemical Shake
2 1/2 oz. soft or silken tofu (1/6 of a 1 lb. block)
3/4 cup of soy milk
1 large carrot or 6 - 8 baby carrots
3/4 cup of orange juice
3/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit
1-2 tablespoons of wheat bran
1-2 tablespoons of wheat germ
1-2 tablespoons of ground or whole flax seed
Mix together in a blender for 1-2 minutes, then drink and enjoy!
Look for kale and other greens at your local Farmers' Market this winter. Make kale more than decoration on your plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD