You're Kale-ing Me, Here!


Maybe you already know about Bountiful Baskets. They are a co-op program which allows me and my neighbors to pool our money in order to get (mostly) locally grown, seasonal, FRESH produce at a great co-op price.  I love the program and I LOVE the produce we get. You never know what the produce will be, although if you know what is in season you can make a pretty good guess.

This last time, there was a generous amount of curly kale in the vegetable basket. I heard quite a few people either asking what in the world do you do with kale, or even trying to trade it away.

Please don't do that. Run right out and get you some kale today. It's wonderful stuff. Like all cruciferous vegetables, it is very good for you. Kale is a great source of vitamins A, C and K and a lot of other good things. It's also one of our most ancient vegetables.

But what do you do with it? Here are two easy ideas. The first one is a comfort food, straight out of my childhood.

Stamppot (loosely translates as "mish mash" or something like that):


6 large potatoes, well-scrubbed and cut into bite-size cubes.
1 large smoked sausage (kielbasa, for example), or 1 large ham steak, or 6 strips of bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces.
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large bunch of kale, well-washed, tough stem removed and leaves ripped or chopped into (wait for it....you know it.....) bite-sized pieces.
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded cheese: sharp cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, muenster...whatever you like.


In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cover the potatoes with cold water, add a bit of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender.


Meanwhile in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden and yummy. Add the meat and saute until the bacon is cooked or until the sausage or ham has browned edges. Add the kale and saute until the kale is well wilted. (If your skillet is too shallow, you can add part of the kale and keep adding more as it cooks down.)


When potatoes are cooked, drain them reserving a 1/4 cup or so of the potato water. Mash them partially with a big spoon or a potato masher adding a little water to make it easier. Leave them quite chunky. Add the potatoes to the skillet


Give the whole thing a righteous stir, add the cheese and continue cooking until the bottom of this mess has some brown crispy stuff going on. Stir it well again and cook until the NEW bottom layer is also flecked with brown. 


Drink this with a good beer and you'll feel so very Dutch. 


Kale Chips:
1 large bunch of kale, well washed and cut or torn into bite-sized pieces.
1 clove of garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt or sea salt


Preheat the oven to 400; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Mix the olive oil and mashed garlic very well (a stick blender works great for this). Either put kale in a large bag and shake it with the oil mixture, or place the kale in a single layer on the baking sheet and drizzle the oil mixture evenly over it. 


Sprinkle the kale with coarse salt and bake just until it crisps. Small pieces take about 10 minutes or so.


Bite-sized pieces are strongly encouraged: if you have to bite into the chip, you will wind up with pieces of kale stuck in your teeth...making you look like a hockey player or a bigger redneck than you want to appear.


These were also good with a little Montreal steak seasoning sprinkled on them. Next, I might try them with a smidgen of soul food seasoning.

Heeeere's CYNTHIA!

Today, I am so pleased to present the original Wicked English Teacher from Commonplace Crazy...Ms. Cynthia Meents. In addition to fun posts on proper usage of commas and homonyms, Cynthia also shares her humor, her family and her hillbilly with us. Cynthia is a daily must-read for me.  Read her now, and you'll understand why I read her every day, and why I want to be a grandma! 

I was very honored to have Trish ask me to do a guest post. When I asked what she wanted me to write about, she told me I could write about anything I want. That's a whole universe full of stuff, y'all! I thought long and hard. I considered writing about engineering, copper mining in Chile, the life cycle of the rattle snake, running a lumber mill or deep-sea diving. The problem is that I don't know anything about any of that stuff.

So what do I know about? What's near and dear to my heart? Well, most of my days are spent teaching English to adolescents. I write about that quite a bit over at my own blog, Commonplace Crazy. But my most favorite thing in the world is being a grandma! Are you familiar with the old saying, "If I'd known how much fun grandchildren were, I would have had them first"?  It's true. Being a grandma is sooo much better than being a mom. Let me tell you why.

1.   3 words: Sleeping all night.




2.   Confidence. When you're a mom, you question every parenting decision. You wonder if making Betty eat her peas before getting any dessert will cause her to have an eating disorder. You worry that sending Billy to his room as punishment will result in an attachment disorder. (Have you noticed an increase in the number of disorders lately?) Which is most likely to produce a sociopath: too much discipline or too little?  

Grandma doesn't worry. This is not her first rodeo.She knows that children are not that fragile, that no parent is perfect, and that most of us turned out okay in spite of imperfect parenting.


3.   Downtime. I come home from work. I put my feet up and check my email, Facebook, and Twitter. I chat with my husband and discuss whatever is on the news. Eventually one of us fixes something to eat. We read and/or watch TV until we're ready to go to bed. There is no chasing, crying, tattling, spilling, pooping, splashing, or name-calling to contend with. Just peace.


4.   Multiples are good. When you're a grandma, 3 babies belonging to you at one time is heaven. When you're a mom...it's not.




5.   Revenge. My daughter is raising the child I wished on her. Every mom does it. You look at your child and his or her current method of driving you crazy, and you say, "SOMEDAY...you will have a child who is JUST. LIKE. YOU!"  


When you're the grandma, you watch your grandchildren doing the same things your own kids did to you, and you laugh and laugh and laugh!

My daughter was smart and verbal from an early age. Her daughter, The Princess, is just like her. It's hilarious. Her logic is priceless. For example, 
                   Princess: "I don't like real live dragons." 

                   Mommy: "There's no such thing. Dragons are just pretend."

                   Princess: "No. Remember when you said there's real live princesses?" 

                   Mommy"Yes. There are real princesses, but not dragons." 

                   Princess: "Yes there are. Dragons live in castles with princesses. So if there's real live princesses, there's real dragons.

Every time Mommy tells The Princess she can't have something
(candy, sugary cereal) because it's a special treat and we don't eat it every
day, her response is, "Today is NOT every day." How do you argue with that? 


So there you have it. Being a grandma is the greatest thing in the world. You love your little ones just as much as you loved your own babies. But while you want them to grow into good people, it's not primarily your responsibility. Oh, you'll still do everything possible to help them and guide them. 

In spite of the stereotype that grandparents spoil their grandkids rotten, you do try to keep your spoiling to a reasonable level. I mean, a child shouldn't have cookies before dinner every day, but today is NOT every day. Today they're at Grandma's house.

How do you argue with that?


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Thank you, Cynthia, for being my guest today. I love your joy at being a grandma, your humor and your granddaughter's logic!

PVSD, PVB and PVS

You know the feeling. You know you do.

Post Vacation Stress Disorder, and its close-cousin, Post Vacation Blues.

You had days, or even weeks, of bliss. Fun, relaxation, freedom. You ate like calories are warm fuzzies of which there are never enough and they can't hurt you. You drank like a college kid who just turned 21. You spent like The Rich and Famous. You slept until you damn well felt like getting up, and stayed up as late as you wanted because you could sleep until the crack of noon the next day.

You wore clothes that felt good, maybe you strolled barefoot in the sand. Lounged around by the pool with cocktails sporting fresh fruit and parasols being brought to by just a lift of your hand. Or maybe you sat on the porch, sipping huckleberry wine and watching the deer stroll by with their little fawns right behind them.

And then it's over. Back to the suits and stilettos, ringing phones, deadlines, demands, alarm clocks and bathroom scales...all of which scold you mercilessly for your days of misbehavior. Sometimes, you left cool and green and came back to blazing hot and dry. It's enough to make you want to remove one of those stilettos and drive it into the temple of anyone who crosses you (and an innocent bystander or two, just for good measure.)

Post Vacation Stress Disorder.

Maybe you love your home and your job, and coming back isn't a trauma. But, oh, the vacation lifestyle. If only you could be as easy-breezy and still be doing your job and living in your own happy home. It makes you feel just a little sad, doesn't it? Post Vacation Blues.

I was bitching about this very thing to my dear friend and colleague. I had two weeks of mountain living, reading, writing,  sleeping late and watching movies in bed and eating like whatserface from the Hunger Games. Oh, and drinking more than my share of huckleberry wine. Now I'm back in the real world. Even though my colleagues are the most awesome thing since bacon-wrapped scallops and totally took care of everything, it's still a lot to come back to. So I was bitching.

My sweet, patient, warm and encouraging friend got a glazed look in her eye. (Yeah, me being gone means extra work for her, too.) Her face got red and shiny and her hair started to frizz from the heat she was generating. She smiled like the shark in Jaws, eyes shooting flames. Thank heaven she doesn't wear stilettos or I'd have one in my temple right now.

Pre-Vacation Syndrome. It's what's for dinner.



Always! Feel free to comment. But play nice. :-)