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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Quarantine Kitchen, Episodes #2, #3, #4: Treats and Exercise Together

Kale on the left, parsley on the right
I'm going to try to condense several projects into one post because, really, how many words do I need to accompany food photos? The beautiful fresh greens above came to us courtesy of a neighbor here in Dos Cabezas who has a flourishing greenhouse. Well, she did lose tomato plants to the last killing frost, but she still has plenty of bounty to share. So I decided to take the kale by the leaves and make roasted kale chips, a snack my stepdaughter Maiya swears by. Here's how it went.

Remove stems
The stems are bitter, and you don't want them. Also, to remove bitterness from the leaves, the part you do want, you drizzle them olive oil and massage it in. Yes, massage. I know. Weird. Never thought I would be massaging a vegetable. 

Some recipes I consulted use only salt. Some recommend sea salt and cumin, and I liked the sound of that. Another possibility was garlic salt, but I didn't go that route. What do you like, and what spices do you have on hand? An idea I really liked was dusting almond flour for added crispness, but I didn't have almond flour. I thought of cornmeal, but the only cornmeal in my cupboard right now is a rather insipid variety, not the Bob's Red Mill stuff I much prefer. So I ground up slivered almonds in my spice grinder to make 1/4 cup of what I called almond flour, added sea salt and cumin and tossed the olive oil-coated kale leaves with it.

Next, spread them out on a sheet for the oven. Maiya had said a 200 degrees Fahrenheit, one recipe said 315, so I split the difference and set the oven at 250.

How did the kale chips turn out? They are very fragile and delicate, for one thing. We liked them. But my husband pronounced them -- and I did not even know this word was in his vocabulary; have never heard him use it before -- oversalted! Okay! Less salt next time!

The parsley went into tabbouleh, one of my personal favorites, although there was no cucumber in it this time. I don't mind buying green bananas and having them go brown, but a cucumber that goes soft in the fridge isn't good for anything that I can see. And while I was sure I had photographed the tabbouleh at a couple of stages, plus in a pita pocket with yogurt, I don't find those photos. Okay, I've got one image of the last bit of tabbouleh. It didn't last long. 

But here's a thought I had. Massaging kale -- does that count as exercise? Did I cover two health birds with one kitchen project?

Not all our treats are green, but exercise comes in more vigorous forms than massaging kale. What about creaming butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon for chocolate chip cookies?

Then mixing in all that flour, again by hand! I'm calling it exercise, friends. And greasing twelve separate little cookie beds in a muffin tin? More exercise. You do it your way, I'll do it mine. 

We like the crispy results
One more closing thought on treats and exercise: making bagels involves a good, long ten minutes of kneading, and when kneading dough by hand you realize just how long ten minutes can be. That counts as exercise, for sure -- and there are the delicious bagels at the end of the project. I wasn't sure the ones I made last weekend were my best-ever bagels, but revisiting them, as we did daily until all 12 were gone, I gave myself higher marks each day. (For entire wordless bagel story, see here.) They were delightfully crispy and chewy and, wow, just so worth the effort! 

Last two bagels! Time to make more!

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