Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All Hail The Kale.

Many months ago I issued a challenge to my favourite vegetarian (and complete non-Trekkie) Nicole. I would make and EAT her kale chips, if she would watch the Star Trek movie reboot. Immediately after this, British Columbia commenced some sort of kale embargo and I was unable to procure any. Until Sunday, when I found some at my local grocery store.

Our family averages two or three vegetarian meals a week. It took me a while to come around to eating vegetarian dishes. My initial attempts were lack luster. I have three bits of advice for anyone wanting to experiment with vegetarian cooking:
1. cultivate a taste for ethnic food. We eat a lot of meatless curries, tagines and stir fries.
2. learn to like beans. If you are making a stew or casserole, decrease the meat and substitute in lentils or chickpeas. Beans are the gateway drug to vegetarian eating.
3. stay the hell away from recipes created by Mollie Katzan or the Moosewood Collective. Vegetarian dishes that are weak reinterpretations of classic meat-centric meals are best left to patchouli-scented, baby-boomers who are too old to know that grated carrots are gross. Mollie Katzan must have huge forearms from spending her whole life grating vegetables.

This experiment didn't start off well. When the kale was in the oven, the smell was reminiscent of my neighbour burning his lawn clippings. After the allotted two hours of cooking, they tasted like tahini and lemon juice and salt, which is a good thing since this is what I rubbed all over them The last ingredient was my own substitution because I didn't have  "nutritional yeast." Nutritional yeast is not easy to procure here. Even if it was, I'd hesitate to buy any because Nicole informs me that it tastes "meaty."

Things that should be described as meaty:
1. bacon,
2. other bits of animal flesh,
3. political or theological discourse, and
4. Russell Crowe, circa 2009-2010.

But not YEAST.

Mr Wrath declared the kale chips "interesting."  My sons were not enthusiastic. Klaxon (age 7) declined to sample one. "You're not going to trick me into eating that by calling it a chip. It's cooked lettuce." Zarf (age 9) was curious as to why vegetarians would even cook kale. "It's not like there's meat in potato chips," was his main issue.  Good point.

My conclusion is that I probably won't make kale chips again. They tasted fine, but it took two hours to cook/dehydrate and I'm not THAT patient. They were very delicate so there's no hope for combining them with dip. When I brushed my teeth about twenty minutes after snacking on a few, the spit and the brush came out green. The kale also turned my tongue green and it stayed that way for hours. That was a bit unnerving.


  1. The good thing in all of this?
    Nicole's gonna become a Trekkie too.
    Or something like that.
    I too was going to make the chips, but then I learned there would be yeast involved. And I wimped right out.

  2. I haven't made kale chips. But am considering a commitment to at least one vegetarian meal a week (aside from our once-in-a-while kraft mac-n-cheese night). I appreciate your helpful tips, not sure how I'm gonna sell it to the fam. We sure like our meat.

  3. OMG, I never thought you would make them. Now I have to watch Star Trek. I'm feeling a little nervous about this. I think my husband is going to be happy though - he wanted to watch that movie but I doth protest much.

    Nutritional yeast is really more CHEESY than MEATY. Also - I put it on popcorn one day and my husband (who hates kale chips, BTW) asked what made the popcorn so delicious. NUTRITIONAL YEAST, BABY. I agree with you on the Moosewood - I'm not crazy about their recipes. Often I will make something to which meat can be added for all the carnivores in my house (pasta, with meatballs on the side for example, or quesadillas, with chickent to be added for those who want it).

    Also? Remember that Friends episode with the hummous? "God bless the chickpea."

  4. When I made kale chips I only used olive oil and sea salt...they set off the fire alarm. And, the kids said they tasted like seaweed (which they have never tried) and I still can't get the strange smell out of my tupperware. So yeah, I probably (will never) be making them again.

  5. I can only aspire to have your sense of humour one day.
    I have nutritional yeast if you dare to try. Makes a great vegan macaroni and cheese. Our family also makes vegetarian meals a couple of times a week. Beans are all the rage (kitty beans that is).

  6. I have to try this nutritional yeast. I guess I need to try Kale too. Can you cook it like collard greens? I'm from Alabama that's what I know how to do.

    I was a vegetarian for 10 years and a vegan for 1 year. Unfortunately, I followed your sons philosophy of "It's not like there's meat in potato chips" or french fries or bread. I was majorly nutritionally deprived- but that's a whole long bad story.

    I should probably go back to being a vegetarian again- a healthier one of course. But Nicole just posted a full length picture of herself on her blog yesterday and she's way hot. I want to be way hot!

    Nicole, good luck watching Star Trek. May the force be with you- nevermind, wrong space movie.

  7. Kale chips. OMG. Here's the thing: toss the cleaned kale with salt and olive oil, put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and put it in a HOT oven for like 20 minutes. It's how to inhale a whole bunch of kale.

  8. Update: kale chips are not nearly tasty enough for me to put up with the kale farts that commenced the following day. O Lordy they were painful.