We leave for the first leg of our WFD Summer Tour in six days. We’ll be having dinner with Randon Noble and Richard Peabody in DC, Laura Bogart in Baltimore, and Anna March in Rehoboth Beach, and then on our way back, Rob Bennett in Baltimore again. I’m heavily involved in The First Stage of Packing: doing laundry, lining up the suitcases and duffle bags, making shopping lists, and getting the tires checked. This is the part of things that makes me anxious, because it’s the part where I have to plan for things that could wrong. But also the part that makes me itch to get on the road, because now we have concrete plans. We’ll be dining at Vidalia in DC and Clementine on our first pass through Baltimore. Like any good foodie, I’m spending almost as much time looking at the menus and planning my miles as I am looking at maps and planning our route. Where we will eat in Rehoboth depends on the availability of crabs.
But that really isn’t what this blog post is about. This blog post is really about kale chips. I’m very late to this party, I admit. I bought a bag of kale chips when the craze started and found them pretty awful, but like a lot of foods, the productized, mass market version has nothing on the homemade. Still, my first batch, made with sea salt and olive oil, still didn’t do anything for me. (I’m one of those people who isn’t crazy about the taste of kale itself.) I probably wouldn’t have tried again if it weren’t for the early abundance of kale at the Athens Farmers Market and an end-of-the-semester burst of cooking energy. But, finally, I have found the perfect kale chip “recipe.” (I hesitate to call this a recipe, actually. It’s kind of not.) This is so good I wanted to share the secret with you: Shan Indian spice blends. Before I put the kale in the oven (300 degrees for 23 minutes), I spritz a little olive oil on it (but not much, because it doesn’t take much) and then GENEROUSLY sprinkle the kale with chaat or chana masala. (I like the chaat best, but that’s because I love the sulfery taste of the black salt, a taste which I recognize many people do not like at all.) And I mean it when I put “generously” in all caps. A dusting won’t do it. You want to really pour the spice mix on.
These are currently “my thing.” After Dominik said, “You know, the smell of kale roasting in the oven is a little hard to take first thing in the morning,” I have put off making them until he’s hadkale chips in a bowl his cup of tea, but I make a batch pretty much every day and have for the last month or so. I’m aware of the problems with food gentrification. but frankly we are a low income family–though in that shabby-chic, graduate student kind of way–and the kale I buy comes from local farmers who are also, for the most part, living on less than most folk. We are not turning kale into biofuel for our BMW or anything. Plus, I’ve read that kale is good for brain health. (Although I read it on HuffPo and, frankly, I take their articles about nutrition with a very, very big grain of salt, so who knows.) And these are seriously yummy.
A note of caution: I tried this with a few other spice blends and it was AWFUL. Regular old grocery store curry powder was overpoweringly sweet and “dusty” in a way that too much turmeric can be. Tikka masala was too mild and the bitterness of the kale overwhelmed it. Experiment, but I suggest leaning toward the bolder flavors.