Culinary, Quite Contrary

Not that T. would admit it or anything, but food blogger Gluten Free Girl is HER kind of girl. GFG’s …contrary. Not only for avoiding wheat products – she spends her days quietly avoiding the same social things T. avoids, which are generally the things most normal people enjoy.

In high school, for T. it was Mel Gibson movies. Now everyone else sees the wisdom in avoiding them (and him)? While T. – who actually saw him in person on a street in Vancouver when she was seventeen – was unwittingly an early adapter nonconformist. Culinarily, if that’s a word, it took us years and years to get one of those silicone baking mats, when everyone and their dog had one. For awhile the food blogger world was all agog over Jaimie Oliver, salted caramel everything, and cupcakes, bloody cupcakes. You’ll note that no more than a passing mention of that has made it to this blog. T. looks at trend-setting things, and says, “Yeah, they’re cute. Meh.” And D. has a fairly virulent distaste for all things Oliver and an eclectic desire for random recipes that are old, require strange Devices, or the use of a crank and lightning at midnight. We’re erratic and oblivious and that’s the usual state of things.

Kale Chips 1.2

So, when Gluten Free Girl talked about avoiding films like Forrest Gump (…Been there), Rain Man (…done that), and never watching The West Wing (…and have the T-shirt) and skipping culinary trends like roasted kale chips, T. gloried in the sensation of finding a woman after her own heart. And yet – last Wednesday T. got one of those best-friend emails that made confrontation unavoidable.

“Have you ever tried it?” was the innocent question.

Well, no. Heck, no! NEVER!

(But one does try so hard to look like a well-balanced, prudent person in public.) “Well, not yet – but how does Friday sound?” T. decided to reply.

As much as we love kale around these parts, it seemed stupid to not at least try it. And after some hemming and hawing and checking out Gluten Free Girl‘s take on the recipe as well as Smitten Kitchen’s T. decided on an approach.

Kale Chips 1.5

We would have preferred to use plain kale for this, but it’s not really deep into kale season here, for some reason, and the only way it’s available at Sainsbury’s, anyway, is pre-washed and pre-chopped in bag form. Not the way we want to deal with it, but since the recipe calls for tearing or chopping it into bite-sized pieces, it’s a way to begin. We used two bags of kale, which come in 200 gram bags… normally that’s a cup or seven and a half ounces, but with kale it was about five cups of springy kaleish goodness. (Most recipes call for about four cups, packed.)

We lined a bowl with paper towel and blotted the water from the kale, turning it and ruffling it with our hands. We went through and removed all of the stems (they don’t turn into chips – they’re wood, people). We then pulled out the paper and measured two tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl. T. massaged the oil into the greens.

At this point, some recipes advise the use of salt. We chose not to do this. 1.) Because we never salt food before it’s cooked, and 2.) Because salt removes water from vegetables, and if you salt before you roast, how do you know if you’ve used too much salt until it’s far too late? We also planned to use our Patented Popcorn Herb Blend on the kale, so chose to simply roast the veg. We turned the oven on to about 250°F/125°C and put the timer on for thirty-five minutes. And then we watched the oven like hawks. Depending on your greens, thirty-five minutes can be too long, and for the first time through this process, we wanted to be sure.

Kale Chips 1.6

We pulled the pans out frequently, and at one point dumped the greens out and ruffled our fingers through them and put them back onto the pan. At such a low temp, the roasting took place in roughly twenty-eight minutes, and we were happy with what they looked like. We dusted them with the PPH blend and a bit of salt, and sampled. Hmm. We shook a few of the smaller pieces through a cooling rack and set them aside to grind and use WITH the PPH Blend. We sampled some more. And some more …

You know, the world is not always kind to innovators. Who was the first person who said, “Hey, let’s take the wizened grain of this maize plant and put it over fire and watch it explode, ricochet all around, and then let’s eat the white stuff that appears next?” Or, imagine the first person to decide that cacti would be really awesome if they could just strip off the spines? Or, T’s favorite question of all time, who decided to eat the round whitish thing that came out of that bird’s backside? There are some really improbable foods in the world. Kale chips are one of them. You might consider trying them, though. Not that we’re going to talk about it all day or anything. We’re not on any food bandwagon, here. But they’re good, in a totally non-conformist way.

Just sayin’.

BUT BE WARNED. Remember how we said we’d taken two bags of kale to make this? We munched our way, reading and writing email and blah, blah, blah, with hand moving to mouth (and to towel to keep the keyboard reasonably clean) over and over again… and then remembered: That was five cups of kale in each bag. Kids: that’s a lot of fiber. DRINK a few QUARTS of water, and put the rest of the tasty crunchies away.

No, do it NOW. Or you will be very, very sorry…

-D & T

13 Replies to “Culinary, Quite Contrary”

  1. With lots of kale still doing quite well in my Alaskan garden I have made these chips a few times. This is a great way to ‘get rid’ of an excess of kale. My kale is tough and this takes all the toughness out of them rendering them into a crispy critter. Nan

  2. Roasted kale? Roasted… kale? Why didn’t they tell me about roasted kale? (Seriously you wouldn’t want to tear your own leaves now would you? And that’s coming from someone who is shunned by her friends by chopping her own veggies. Like buying them in the state they grow in. In nature. But I don’t do kale. Period).
    Oh and another thing: 200 grams? Must be because of Van Gogh’s potato eaters but kale comes in 400 gram bags here…. and then it’s cooked to death and mashed with potatoes. Looking at it from the bright side: 400 grams make a lot of roasted kale.

    Ah… someone else that asks questions like this! My kids made that into a dinner sport. 🙄 T? Do you care to join my family? Please? They hate cupcakes?!

    1. Kale can be an acquired taste, because it’s kind of bitterish-musky. But it’s so tasty! I rarely eat it with potatoes, though. Almost never… Ever since we moved here, there’s so MANY potatoes in the common Scots diet that I kind of avoid them. But kale and chickpea soup is amazing, and it’s awfully good in a frittata with eggs and zucchini and a nice sharp cheese…

      The thing about cupcakes is if I’m going to EAT cake, then I’m going to EAT CAKE. Putting it in smaller bits means a.) one more annoying step while baking it, b.) inevitably too much frosting on it, with all the little furbelows and decorations, and c.) me eating more of them than I should because it seems smaller than a single piece of cake and it’s not. Deceptive little food.

      I think I’m going to love having dinner with your kids someday… 😀 But seriously – once early people saw that those eggs they robbed from nests came out of birds’ bums… what made them keep eating them????

  3. I can be fairly contrary myself, and even though my little bloggy is sporting a *ahem* Cup. Cake. I admit I don’t get the whole cupcake thing, or my fave — blindly reading books (wait. is that possible?) given the seal of approval by a celebrity and only those books because it’s far too challenging to actually figure out what you might discover for yourself. Definitely contrary. But kale chips? I got some for my birthday and inhaled the bag and been wanting to try making some since then. As far as the old fashioned thing goes, since I’ve just made my very first madeleines in 3 antique pans I’ve had forever and they stuck, I’m over it. Way.

    1. We totally FORGIVE YOU the cupcake. (They little berry on top looks succulent!) It’s not like we hate them for their own sake, but the swooning hysteria is a bit much. And yeah, “blindly” reading books is somewhat difficult, but I like the turn of phrase. I’m sure Oprah means well, but I don’t care what books she chooses. Give me an afternoon in a musty old used bookstore ANY DAY over any so-called “celebrity” choices.

      We got some old aluminum shaped pans for something or other, and everything stuck in them, too. TOTALLY over the old-school thing. Ugh. Plus: aluminum. Double ugh.

      I hope you do make the kale chips, and find non pre-chopped kale. We would have loved bigger pieces.

  4. Sis,

    I was TOTALLY in the dark about you and the Mel Gibson movies….hopefully you’ve come to your senses.

    Kale chips are the bomb…I’m surprised you hadn’t been on the bandwagon long before now…but then there are your choices in movies right?

    1. Sissy, don’t make me come and beat you up.
      I cannot ABIDE Mel Gibson movies. I think anything made while I was in high school gets a pass, but otherwise…
      Have you made your own chips? Is there any good way to store them?

  5. You may have warned me about the smell though, right now I’m looking at a large bunch of crisp-ish curly kale and it got all the kids from the house into the kitchen wondering what was for dinner.
    They saw the kale… and their brows furrowed (good thing I didn’t tell them there’s some nori in it).
    OK.. so I sampled…let’s say I am not over enthusiastic. They’re a bit eh kale-ish and tough when you chew. I bet I did something wrong.

    Ever tried beetroot chips? They are sooo good. And sooo fussy. And deep fried which is not good. But so yummy. Won’t do that one again either. Because of the fussy.

    1. Even though I enjoyed doing kale chips ONCE, I can’t see doing it again.
      For one thing, it’s fiddly. It’s a good snack, but it’s fiddly, with having to pay attention and watch that it only roasts for so long — and because I really like kale, it seems like it can be better used in other ways.

      For another thing, you can eat too much of it easily. Unlike potato chips one doesn’t get an automatic grease-guilt reflex that makes you stop eating.

      I admit I’m confused about why yours smelled weird – ours didn’t have much smell at all, or maybe I’ve forgotten already — but I’m ALL about trying the beet chips. Someday. When YOU make them. Because, did I mention how much I dislike fiddly? Yes. I believe I did. So, you’re on for both dinner and the beet chips. 😀 Your kids and I thank you in advance.

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