Kale and Eggs (Or, Why You Should Start a Food Blog)

Kale and Eggs

If you want to know the truth, I have had this recipe in my WordPress drafts for weeks now. Weeks. Every time I would go to post it, just as something quick and easy, I would think, this is too simple, this is nothing special or, I don’t know, here we go with kale again, and I would talk myself out of it.

I do this kind of thing a lot. Maybe you do, too?

Kale Leaves

The last day of our Dole trip, during the one-hour drive between our hotel and the airport Friday morning, Gina from Skinny Taste said something to me and Tim that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. She said, you know, when it comes to her blog, she’s noticed that it’s always been the quick and simple posts, not the elaborate and thorough ones, that have resonated most with readers. She could spend a ton of time crafting something just so, but then it’s that fast and easy breakfast she throws together in a rush that people get excited about.

And what her anecdote about blogging tells me is this: there is real value in creating, even in creating something simple, especially if it’s true. With blogs, it’s not only the award-winning sites that have something to offer; it’s the blogs written by people in their pajama’s, at late hours of the night, created because those writers are dying to make something, to publish something, to give a voice to all the thoughts in their head; it’s the blogs written by people who don’t want to forget their recipes, who want them recorded somewhere for their friends and their grandchildren; it’s the blogs pursued for no other reason than because they’re fun.

I think this applies to more than blogging.

Every now and then, one of you tells me you want to start a food blog—or, to write more or, to experiment with flours or, to learn more about whole foods—yet then you wrestle with questions like “What do I have to say?” or “But it won’t be as good as X,” and I get it because they’re the same questions I wrestle with.

So here is what I want to say to you, to say to us: first of all, you should know that there are bloggers (just like there are writers and musicians and chefs and painters) who will tell you not to even try unless you do what they did—commit to posting thrice a week or, really understand recipes or, shoot pictures that are as crisp and glossy as a magazine’s. There are bloggers, fellow creators, who will discourage you by giving you their blog stats and telling you about their blog trips and saying how long it’s taken them to get to where they are. Try not to listen to them.

When you hear these voices, remind yourself that there is something about the creative process that often makes us hesitate, that makes us question and compare, that makes us think, no one will want to read this kale and eggs post or, I need to tell people how great my work is so that it can feel true. When you sit down with another blogger and hear these things, realize they’re wrestling with the same struggle you are—and keep creating.

Eggs in Pan

In “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist, she says this about the value of making art, be it books or music or a food blog:

I know that life is busy and hard and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don’t. Please don’t. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader because of the art that you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making your art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.

eggs for one

There’s nothing wrong with taking a real job, anymore than there’s something wrong with khaki pants, except that sometimes doing the culturally acceptable things are exactly what keeps us from pursuing creativity. The way I see it, just as the world needs more art, the world needs more people who are passionate about making it, and so therefore it needs more food blogs. Not because the writers will become famous authors. Not because they’ll get free things or gain acclaim. But because, at the most basic level, there is value in creating, value in putting something together the way our Creator does. And these days, every time I see a new blog, that’s what I’m thinking.

Read More

Kale Almond Pesto

photo of Kale

The way I see it, kale is kind of like the book or blogger or skinny jeans you discovered back before everyone said it was cool. You genuinely liked it. You saw it for what it was. But now, set amongst the hipsters of East Nashville, you look like you’re only wearing them because the guy sitting next to you is.

photo of kale ends

It doesn’t matter if in addictive chips or green smoothies or salads massaged with oil, kale is cool. It’s giant sunglasses and “The Bachelor” and rehabbing your kitchen to look like a magazine. It’s Pinterest. And if you’re a person like me, someone who’s used to rooting for the underdog or talking about something obscure and not-noticed (kind of like you yourself can tend to be), it feels a little strange to get excited about something that’s gotten so big, as if you’re cheering for a team as they win the Superbowl or promoting a movie when it’s already won Best Picture. It feels like by pushing this product, this ingredient, you’re trying to ride on its coattails, like you’re trying to be cool, too.

photo of fresh kale

Here in Nashville, there’s this beautiful brunch spot I love, one with farmhouse tables and tall windows and mason jars and local foods, the cafe that holds the distinction of being the first place I ever ate at in this city, back when Becky and I met up with my friend Jarrelle in January of 2010, the day before I would meet Tim, the man I’d call husband less than two years later. Today, you go there on a Sunday morning and you’re looking at a two-hour wait for breakfast. Two hours.

That’s too popular, I told my friend Carrie. I think I’m done.

chopped kale

You could argue, successfully I think, that when something gains that much notoriety, when it’s that acclaimed, that beloved, it doesn’t matter much if I, one person, stop liking or reading or following it anymore. That comforts me. So sometimes, even knowing how much I like those artisan breads or thoughtful posts, I stop going back to that restaurant or that blog, and I know nobody’s too hurt in the process.

But other times, there’s kale.

photo of kale pesto in food processor

What could I really tell you about kale that you don’t already know? Half of you probably have it in your fridge right now. You’ve eaten it, you’ve juiced it, you’ve added it to smoothies. Kale is commonplace. It’s mainstream. I know. It’s true that kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables out there, but you’ve heard that already—probably even seen it on charts in the produce section of your local Whole Foods, if you have one nearby.

kale almond pesto

So I’m not going to tell you that there’s anything shocking or surprising about the following revelation; I’m just going to give it to you anyway, partly because it was something I didn’t know, partly because it was the best thing I ate all month:

Kale makes a killer pesto.

kale pesto toasts

Inspired by the haul at our first Delvin Farms CSA pickup, where our bushel box held two kinds of kale, collard greens, lettuce, green onions, garlic, yellow squash, sweet potatoes and strawberries (!), and which coincidentally arrived the day before we left for Florida, meaning we were hunting ways to make things last, Tim suggested pesto.

Combining kale with toasted almonds and Pecorino and olive oil was pretty elementary, and maybe it’s something you’ve already done before, but to us, slathered on toast and topped with sauteed tomatoes, it was enough to widen our eyes and have us slapping the table, looking for any and everything else we could spread it on.

It was also enough to remind me that sometimes when you like something enough, it doesn’t matter how many other people already do, too. What matters is it’s good.

Read More

Peaches N’ Green Smoothie

Back when I was keeping regular office hours, breakfast was always tough. I don’t know why it was easy to prepare lunch the night before but then over and over again forget about breakfast, but it was. There were months of quick grabs on the way out the door—a muffin, some leftovers, cookies whenever they were around. (Of course.)

And honestly, even though nowadays I’m most likely still in my pajamas past 10 AM (and you’d assume that such a fact would imply leisurely gourmet breakfasts), I’ll just be honest: in actuality, the biggest thing that’s saved me is the smoothie.

See, sometime last year—around the same time that all kinds of other changes were happening—I started making smoothies. I had made them before (a certain blueberry-orange-banana one made its appearance around here just weeks before my diet change), but this was different.

peaches and greens smoothie

There were bags and bags of frozen fruit, for starters, blended in all kinds of new combinations. In the beginning, it was strawberries, bananas and raw milk. Maybe with cocoa powder added, maybe with yogurt or kefir if I were out of milk. Strawberries turned to blueberries turned to mixed berries and back again. Sometimes there were mangoes or kiwi or pineapple added in. At some point I started adding raw eggs for protein. And a few times, I tried greens like kale—but it wasn’t until this year that greens became a staple, thanks to a few experiences of intensely green shakes (as inspired by the nutritional research and consultation being done by these guys). I felt my tastebuds changing and grew to really want vegetables in my smoothies, too.

Then there was one more thing: last month, when Tim and I went to visit my family for a few days, my dad surprised me with the perfect gift:

a brand-new Vitamix

(I know, I know, but I told you, he is crazy generous).

I almost cried.

Vitamix

So I tell you all that to say, or to explain, that somewhere along the line I became someone who has a smoothie every. single. morning. Like many changes, it happened gradually, naturally, the way changes often do, but when I look back, I’m kind of awed by how different things look.

You know, it’s like the way that you stand your kid against the wall and mark his height each year or, you water your tomato bush every day but then suddenly notice it’s bloomed!. Sometimes it’s not until the looking back that we see change best.

banana

Today, my morning routine is pretty simple: throw ingredients in the Vitamix, pour into glass or old kombucha bottle, and head out the door.

There is always fruit:

frozen strawberries

peaches

and a few big leaves of greens (kale, collards, chard):

collard greens

with liquids—milk or kefir/yogurt with water:

kefir

then I throw in some cod liver oil for Omega 3s (you won’t taste it anyway, and it’s easier than trying to remember to take a spoonful every day) or a few probiotics:

cod liver oil

The possibilities are endless, so things never get boring. And the particular version I bring you today is the one I made Sunday, filled with the flavor of fresh peaches (which were $0.69 a pound last week) and the grassy kick of greens. The name’s a little hokey, but the taste—and the nutritional value—definitely isn’t. Peaches N’ Greens: now that’s a good breakfast.

Read More

the fact of the matter

le creuset with pasta

I am sorry to say I made several mistakes with this recipe—are you ready for this? To start, I didn’t chop the kale ahead of time, so the pieces were huge when they got tossed with the pasta; also, instead of using the called-for full pound, I just used the bag of kale that came in my CSA, which was a mystery to me in terms of weight, and probably much less than 16 ounces; I was almost out of lemon, so I made do with what was left of some squeezed slices in the fridge; and, when it came time to add the Parmesan, I look back and see now that I was a little stingy.

We’re all friends here, so I’ll just be straight with you: I make silly mistakes like these all the time. It’s not at all uncommon for someone to e-mail me a typo or spelling mistake I’ve posted, for example, and that’s not the sort of thing that inspires confidence in a girl who spends large parts of every day writing and editing words at her work desk.

But it gets worse.

kale

A mistake I am always making, for years now, is something maybe too serious to be called a mistake, something more indicative of a strong character flaw and something that relates to this recipe, or more specifically, an ingredient in this recipe. It’s the same force that was at work when I said, not yet in kindergarten, that I would NEVER like dogs after being chased by some, leading to decades of friends putting their pets away for me; in high school, that I would NEVER live with my parents after college, which is exactly what happened; in college, that I would NEVER think camping sounded fun, although now almost five years later, you won’t find anyone who loves being outside like I do. Though my mind does change, eventually, I can be awfully stubborn in the meantime. It’s ugly.

garlic and onions

So it was with kale, that dark and leafy vegetable not unlike spinach, which was not something I grew up eating.

Read More

up and down

kale

Oh, spring.

I have been waiting for you for such a long, long time.

And now that you’re here, you’re playing games with me.

One minute, we’re pure magic—all fresh breezes and warm sunshine. Bailey and I go for an evening walk, his paws trotting past tiny green buds peeking out of the earth and I breathe in the new air, cold and clean, inhaling it down deep and sighing, happy sighing, the kind filled with satisfaction yet anticipation. The next, you’re waking me up in the middle of the night, my eyes swollen and my throat tight, while what feels like a hundred tiny hammers bang against my head and nothing—not the Vicks VapoRubĀ® or the warm compress on my eyes or the two tablets of pain medication—makes me feel well again. I always forget about this part. Every year.

Then, just when I’m ready to give up on you—to say I’ll bide my time and wait for summer’s long, hot days—my mom buys and brings me a neti pot, a small contraption in the shape of a genie’s bottle that, when filled with lukewarm saltwater, clears my nasal passages and frees my airways and makes me breathe again, so I can taste your sweet, windy gusts that burst through my windows, signaling the rainstorm that will come, along with the temperate days and green, green grass.

Spring, I take it all back. I think I love you.

When I look at things clearly, I say you’re like kale. Does that make sense? Kale is dark green, leafy, sold in thick bunches wrapped with bands, filled with promise, the kind of produce you want to take home with you because it’s beautiful and healthy (!) and, you know, there will be a way to enjoy it. Even though it’s usually considered a winter vegetable, kale is easy to find on days like these in March, just like natural light and rainy evenings and smells of charcoal grills wafting through the sky.

But after I’d made a failed winter vegetable gratin and a botched attempt at blanched kale, I was ready to give up on kale. And then.

Read More
  • 1
  • 2