When I began my backyard garden last October, a few weeks after moving into our new home, we were in the midst of a stifling heat wave. Despite oppressively extreme temperatures blowing in from the desert on the Santa Anas, I started sowing the seeds of cool weather crops. I was anxious about how they would fare, as I found it hard to prevent small seedlings with shallow roots from drying out in the hot, dry weather. With plenty of tender watering, sometimes up to three times a day, almost all survived and we were delighted with a harvest of fresh produce right through the winter. Many of the crops I planted finished long ago. The rapini, for example, was first to reach maturity and provided generously for our table, but started to weaken and fall prey to bugs as soon as the first warm weather hit. A few others, however, such as the kale and chard, never stop producing. They are proving to be wondrously plentiful even now, eight months later!
It would probably be easy to tire of kale if our only options were steaming, sautéing and shredding in salads. Having more than one type of kale in the garden lessens the likelihood of boredom, but still it I might have pulled out all the gorgeous Russian Kale and replaced it with another option. This would be a shame as it is so easy to grow and it is packed full of nutrients and anti-oxidants. Thankfully, no one in our family has complained of being sick of snacking on kale chips, which for the most part is how our Russian Kale has been served up through the winter and spring.
As is the case with many children who have the good fortune of a backyard garden or whose parents tend a community garden plot, we have no difficulty getting our son to eat his veggies. In fact, we find ourselves taking away his vegetables at dinner time, telling him that he can have more once he eats his other food. This is not how I ever imagined supper with a child would look like! I know we are tremendously lucky! However, if getting greens into my little boy was a problem, I am pretty certain that he would devour kale chips, easing my nutritional worries at the same time.
Kale chips are so popular around our home that it didn’t take long before I found myself dividing trays of chips from the oven into three separate containers, each tub bearing a name, to ensure that each of us gets our fair share. Embarrassing, but true! If I had a deep freeze, I would make even more chips and load the freezer full, in order to tie us over the season when the heat finally shuts down the kale. In the mean time, I’ll keep on attempting to keep up with everything my kale plants have to give. For now, they seem unstoppable!
Kale Chips by Mama is Inspired
- 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and torn into 2-inch pieces (10-12 large stems)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Juice of 1 small lemon (4 Tbsp)
- 1 Tbsp tamari (San J Gold Label is what I like best)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (Red Star brand)
- 1/8 cup almond meal
- 1/8 cup flax meal
Place torn pieces of kale into large bowl. Add ingredients to kale and toss well with salad tongs so that mixture is thoroughly and evenly coating the kale.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
Lay out on cookie sheets as evenly as possible.
Place trays of kale in the oven. After 2 hours flip the kale chips with a spatula. Put back in oven and continue to ‘bake’ (they are actually dehydrated at this temperature rather than baked) until they are all completely dry. This can take up to 8 hours. After removing from the oven, allow the chips to cool on the cookie sheets. Then remove and store in a well sealed container in the fridge. I have found that nothing works better than a yogurt tub to keep the kale chips fresh. I also add one or two silica packs to each container.
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