“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Five plus years ago, we moved to the country to see just how closely we could follow the suggestion of Mr. Thoreau.
Some years, more difficult than others.
With all due respect, I'm not sure how Mr. Thoreau would have handled the record-breaking drought. Heat waves. Job losses. Price of gasoline. The price of feed. The price of everything.
And on our current trajectory, we'll likely move further and further away from Thoreau's utopian plan. Because as each season passes, it becomes a little more difficult, a little less safe, to simply breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and rely on the earth's influence.
Progress moves us further from the rhythm of life. And tends to take a little bit of precious and rare Earth with it.
Today, on Earth Day, we pause to reflect on the way we utilize our resources. Hanging the laundry to dry, carpooling, solar water heaters, rainfall collection barrels--no one small step will eradicate the problems we face as we populate the earth, but cultivating a mindful approach to the ways in which we live upon our planet may help spread the word among our neighbors, our family, our friends, our world, to help further the cause, and improve their own quality of life in the balance.
It takes a special kind of crazy to chuck it all for a rural life, if for a season, or a lifetime. It's certainly not the path I'd expect everyone who wants to eat locally and sustainably to take, nor should they, nor need they. Perhaps, they might begin as I did many years ago. With a conscious decision to eat in accordance with the laws of the land.
Shop your farmers markets. Grow a tomato or two. Know what's in season on earth, sky, and sea. Prepare it simply. Enjoy it richly.
Before I could stomach collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, swiss chard, and all those other healthy green things, kale was my first love.
You might call it my gateway green.
In season, and best before it gets too terribly HOT out there, Kale has grown in the garden since our first plot. It's a hardy little fella. May die back in a hard freeze, but just keeps coming, otherwise. Kale is easily started by seed or purchased as a transplant, and placed in your early spring garden, is ironclad. Indestructible. Kale can get a bit buggy in the Central Texas growing climate (as well as the grower, in fact), so check with your favorite local organic nursery, and determine the best feeding and bug control methods from the beginning and you'll have a kale bounty on your hands much of the year.
The word is out, now, and kale is everywhere! Kale chips, especially, seem to be the snack of the moment. The last few moments, in fact. Kale has been finding its way into soups and stews for a while. Doctors love it, eat it, cook it, give it the hard sell.
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.
Commonly, you will find me sauteing kale in a little oil, with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Sometimes I toss in some grated parmesan cheese. It's a traditional Italian preparation of the green. I may toss it with some seasoned homemade bread crumbs--I've taken to stuffing all manners of vegetables with it, too.
Kale, the firmest of the greens, stands up well to heat, however is often a little too stiff to eat raw. If you show it a little attention, it will soften up a little, just like we all do.
So give kale a massage. You heard me right. Massage your kale. Maybe it's had a rough day.
A quick massage, of the leafy, destemmed green will soften, and sweeten kale, making it perfectly delightful in raw salads. For this dish, I've destemmed what would be the equivalent of two market-sized bunches, and sliced, crosswise, in 1/4 to 1/2" ribbons. In a large bowl, I tossed and massaged the greens with about 2-4T olive oil and 1/2t kosher salt. Letting the greens 'marinate' in the olive oil for a while will yield the same effect. The massage, or marination, breaks down kale's cellulose structure, thus 'wilting' the green.
While kale marinates (massage for a few minutes, then let sit for about 5, before proceeding), Destem and slice 2 cups of red table grapes. Pan fry or bake 1/2# bacon. (Okay, you don't need that much. But bacon..c'mon....it's so good. And you know you're going to steal a slice from that batch. Do it. Live a little!). Drain bacon on paper toweling, cool, and crumble. Next, crumble, and set aside, about 4-6 oz firm goat cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remainder of the 4T of olive oil, above, that didn't go into the massage session, 4T good quality balsamic vinegar, 2tsp brown sugar, and 2t dijon mustard. Season, to taste, with kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Fold in goat cheese and bacon.
Toss halved grapes and prepared vinaigrette with kale. You may choose to add the kale stems, sliced thinly, for a little added texture. Correct seasonings.
This salad will keep, refrigerated, for several days, thanks to our firm, green friend-- Kale.
We are very proud to be celebrating this Earth Day, 2013, with our partners at Cooking Planit.
If you have a moment, please drop by this link where you'll find a goldmine of recipes, and the ways and means to help you get your meals together, and on the table, all together, on time, and in short order, with their Cooking Planit app. It's free to sign up, y'all!
Yes, there's an APP for that!
Learn more about Earth Day, 2013, including its history, programs, and ways you can help by reducing your carbon footprint, and more, by visiting http://www.earthday.org/