Kale Chips

Kale Chips

If you are looking for a snack which will actually allow you to remain on a healthy diet, or at least will replace some of your high-carb, high-calorie snacks, why not try kale chips! Kale chips are one of my favorite snacks, because I love the taste and feel good about eating them. The best way to get kale chips is to make them yourself. Today, I made some and took some photos, so I can show you how easy it is.

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I like to use Lacinto (Dinosaur) kale for chips, because they are denser and flatter than other types of kale. The denseness makes a chip which is more like the consistency of potato chips. Using curly types of kale also makes great kale chips which are light and fluffy in texture (so fine they often melt in your mouth before you can chew them). The kale you ultimately use will be personal preference.

Wash Kale

Wash your kale in very cold water. Kale becomes sweeter when it gets cold. If you don’t want to make your chips, right away, you can wash them and put them in the refrigerator for up to a few days before using them.

Use All Parts

The next thing you do it remove the bitter stem which runs from the tip of the leaf to the stalk. Tear the leaf into whatever size you want. I make mine somewhat bigger, because they will shrink when they cook. I find something to do with each part of the kale leaf. The stems go into my composter, the larger parts of the leaf are torn into chips, and the tiny pieces of leaf are saved for salads. My dad loves chopped salads, so I tear off the smaller pieces, instead of throwing them into the composter, and I add them to cut up or torn small pieces of lettuce.

Lay On Cookie Sheets

I use a very large stainless steel bowl. Add two tablespoons of the oil of your choice and what ever seasonings you want into the bottom of the bowl. I like pink sea salt. My sons like chili seasoning, garlic powder, or parmesan cheese. What ever flavors you add should be dry. Let them soak in the oil for a few minutes to infuse the flavor. Add the cut up kale leaves and lightly toss. Rub the oil around each leaf, but do not let the leaves become soaked in oil, or they won’t become crisp.

Place on Parchment Paper Lined cookiesheets

Next, line each cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay each chip on the paper without overlapping them. This will ensure the chips will become crunchy. Bake your chips 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool 3-5 minutes

Your kale chips will shrink as they cook. When they come out of the oven, allow them to sit on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes while they continue to cook and crisp. If you are like me, you will want to try to eat them without this waiting period, but try to practice delayed gratification. It will be worth it when you get to eat your crunchy, yummy kale chips.

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Kale Harvest

I love kale. It is beautiful. It is easy to grow. It is nutritious. I like to eat it in salads, add it to fruit and veggie smoothies, and dry it into kale chips. A cup of kale has 2.9 grams of protein and no cholesterol. A cup of kale exceeds the daily required amount of vitamins A, K, and C that the human body needs, each day. It is filled with fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.

For a short time, kale was one of the most popular foods on the market and in the garden. It is one of many plants in the cabbage family: Others include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts among others. If you want to try a fantastic dish which includes these foods, there is a great new kale and brussel sprout salad that you can currently get from Cracker Barrel. The kale and brussel sprouts are shredded and mixed with cranberries and a sweet dressing… yum!

Above, you can see two varieties which grow quite well in the Indiana garden: Lacinto kale and Scots Curly kale.

Lacinto Kale

Lacinto Kale is often called dinosaur kale or flat-leaf kale. It is a long, somewhat flat leaf which looks like the bumps and scales we often imagine on dinosaur skin, hence the name, Dinosaur kale. It is denser than other types of kale and makes wonderful chips which are closer to the consistency of thin potato chips than Scots kale.

Curly Kale

Scots kale, also known as Curly kale, is a beautiful leaf of pure goodness. I think Curly kale makes a gorgeous addition to any salad or sandwich. It’s curls hold salad dressing well, and it adds texture to a lettuce salad.

Kale Stem

I have had many people tell me that they do not like kale’s bitter taste. There are two things which eliminate bitterness in kale. Do you see that thick stem which runs the length of the kale plant? It is the bitter taste that you experience. Take that stem out: Don’t eat it! The second thing you should know about kale is that the colder it is, the sweeter it will taste. As a matter-of-fact, kale loves frost, so it is best planted in very early spring and in the autumn. When I clean kale, I clean it with very cold water, and sometimes even drop it into ice water for a few minutes before serving it.

Adding kale to your diet means adding nutrition and some variety to your diet. I am making kale chips, today… I will be posting photos! I hope you consider growing it in your garden. You can start seeds or buy plants. Seeds grow well and will surprise you.

The Story Inn Garden

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Out in the middle of nowhere along old State Road 135 in Nashville, Indiana… if you don’t blink your eyes for more than a second… you will find the tiny town of Story, a lovingly restored town of maybe a dozen buildings. The main building, the old general store, has been converted into a fantastic restaurant with bed-and-breakfast style accommodations in its four upper rooms. most of the rest of the buildings in town are also restored in the B&B style. This is one of my favorite places on earth for one reason: the garden at the Story Inn is one of the most wonderful working kitchen gardens I have ever been in.

The trip to the Story Inn is one of the most inconvenient, anguishing road trips I have been on. It doesn’t help that it already takes me two hours to drive from Tipton County to the turn-off on State Road 46. It’s the rest of the trip that causes me anxiety. I turn south onto 135 and drive for what seems like… well… forever… before I finally get to Story. It is a jaunt, but it isn’t really that bad. My anxiety sets in when I drive for so long that I start thinking that I may have blinked and passed the town right up! I have been making the trip, each year, since 2008, and I have had that same feeling, each and every time. If you like good food and love great gardens, though, it is well worth the trip.

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The Story Inn has one of the best kitchen gardens that I have been in. The owners grow some vegetables, salad greens, and herbs which can be used in the kitchen, and they built a fantastic outdoor stone oven and grill which, if the weather is good, you just might be able to talk the chef into using to grill your scrumptious steaks and seafood. Better yet, they have outdoor seating in the garden, and occasional live entertainment from the back porch. Imagine my joy at being able to eat one of the best meals prepared in the state of Indiana in my favorite kitchen garden listening to live music on a warm summer night.

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There are a lot of interesting stories about the Story Inn, as well. One of them is about a ghost called, The Blue Lady, which frequents one of the upper rooms at the Story Inn. Paranormal investigators have investigated, and some say there is ample evidence that she is more than a figment of the imagination. I always laugh when I hear the waiters talk about how the ghost sightings quadrupled after the management started leaving complimentary bottles of wine in the guest rooms. Could this be the case of a wine-loving ghost? Could it be that the wine makes people see things that may not be there? Whatever the case, Guests who have visited the Story Inn say that The Blue Lady has been nothing but welcoming and accommodating when they have seen her. I am happy to say that I have not seen her in the garden during any of my visits!

Yes, my friends, the long trip to the boondocks, through a state park and around a national forest, on the old road which used to be the dirt path to Kentucky during the days of pioneers, to a town, which all but died and was resurrected by self-proclaimed hippies and is inhabited by ghosts, which you might miss if you blink on the way there, is one of the best, most worthwhile, ventures to make in Indiana. If you love great food or just a great garden, you will love the Story Inn. Just sayin’

Salad Season Has Sprung!

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After a long winter, I am always relieved and excited for salad season to begin. I always share my first harvests with my mother, and this year’s first harvest of salad greens was no exception. Kale, spinach, and lettuce added bit of green to a family chicken dinner.

For many years, I planted a huge variety of foods, usually including seven or eight types of lettuce, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. My family never ate it all. For the last few years, however, I decided to plant only things that my friends and family really like or use. For example, instead of planting eight different types of tomatoes, last year, I planted a few slicing tomatoes, my dad’s favorite German tomatoes, and a lot of sauce tomatoes. This Spring, I chose to grow only certain types of lettuce: Romaine, Red Sails, and Buttercrunch, since they are our favorites. I wonder if there will be any complaints, but I can say that last night’s salad went over very well.

My first harvest of salad greens is my signal to start my second planting which will take my greens harvest into the heat of summer. In a normal Indiana winter, it is also the sign that I need to prepare to plant the more frost sensitive plants, like tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers. Since our winter was so mild, however, I already had some of my beds prepared and took a chance, planting some of those plants a little earlier than normal. I did lose some tomato and zucchini plants to an unexpected frost, so I will make sure I have my sheets ready to cover my additional plants, if another frost is imminent.

What else can we plant early in Indiana? If you want the satisfaction of a fast-growing crop, you can try radishes. My mom and I love the bitter punch that radishes provide, but the taste is not for everyone. The great thing about radishes is that you can start pulling them out of the ground in as few as 20 days for small types and 27 days for larger ones. Another early Spring plant is the beet. Beets stay sweet as long as they grow in cold weather and are not left in the ground too long. They take longer than radishes, but still leave enough time, after harvest, for a crop or two of beans.

My mouth is watering just thinking about eating a salad of fresh greens with radishes and beets, a wonderful dressing, and my favorite toppings.