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The farmers' market just opened up near me, and yesterday we went for the first time this season. It’s such a wonderful place to shop; so much more lively than buying produce in a supermarket. One of the farmers saw us and greeted us with “Hey- it’s the potato boy!” when she saw Jack- then apologized for the potatoes not being in season yet. He did pick out some nice cucumbers to snack on. At another vendor, he got very excited when he saw the kale. I ended up buying TWO huge bunches of kale- one curly and one straight- because he didn’t know which kind would make better chips.
Yesterday was one of those hectic days, so I didn’t get a chance to do much of anything with the produce until today. I’d dumped the veggies on the table in the air-conditioned kitchen before going out for other errands, and didn’t even get them into the fridge until last night. When I went to inspect and clean it today, I saw that the carrots were already getting soggy. Those have been soaking in a bowl of water for hours- they should be nice and crispy again by tonight. I’ve already separated out the greens from the carrots, washed the greens, and put them away, tossing the inedible stems. I did the same for the golden and red beets, although the beets were in good enough shape to go right into the fridge without needing to be soaked or anything.
I washed one of the 4 heads of lettuce when I realized I’d bought WAY too many greens! Last year, I’d under bought the first week, and it was unpleasant having to revert to supermarket produce a few days after eating the farmers’ market stuff. So my natural inclination was to buy more to begin with; the way I’d shopped at the market by the end of last summer. But Leah and Hannah are at camp, and I’m the only one eating the lettuce this week. I’d mentally planned on having extras for company, but forgot that we weren’t making salad for 30. There were a total of 4 adults and 3 children, including me and Jack. We didn’t go through much more lettuce than I would have eaten on my own for lunch.
I’m a little bummed that my fridge is so full right now, and the lettuce might wilt faster because it’s squished in there. But I know that it will crisp up again when I soak it, so the food won’t go to waste. I’ll see how much is left by next Sunday and I’ll be sure to shop appropriately next week.
I washed the kale while preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then ripped into bite-sized pieces and put them through my salad spinner. I put the spun leaves into a large foil pan, added olive oil and sea salt, and roasted them until they looked dry and crisp. I filled two large foil pans and put them both in the oven at once. I checked on them every 5 or 10 minutes, stirring as needed.
When they were mostly done, and had shrunk a lot, I combined them into one pan so I could cook the rest of the bunch of kale. I’m sure they would have cooked faster if I’d left them more spread out, but I find it easier to have fewer slower-cooking batches, rather than many small batches that cook quickly. When the second batch was one, I combined all the kale chips into one pan to cool. I plan to put them in a plastic bag tonight, but for now I want to keep them convenient for snacking.
I’ve also seen recipes for kale chips that use a low oven for several hours or overnight, basically drying the kale rather than toasting it. I’ve never tried that method. I’ve also seen recipes that add various spices or nutritional yeast along with the oil before toasting or drying, but my kids are happy with just sea salt and olive oil.
Today I cooked up the curly kale, but I don’t have the energy or time to start on the straight kale. That will be a project for another day.
The straight kale made better chips than the curly kale, but the farmer's market was out of the straight kale today, so I bought more curly kale instead. I still have lettuce left from last week, so I didn't buy any more. Next week, we'll be busy on Sunday so I plan to try out a new market on Friday.
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