I think we can

new year's day

I’m not really a resolution person, you know? For me, change happens slowly. Plus, I don’t do so well when asked to evaluate myself all at once in a rush of anxiety in the middle of winter after passing through the stresses (good and bad) of all that year-end festiveness. And then there’s the word itself – resolution. It sounds sort of … congressional (read: ineffective?), sort of … over and done. If change is in order, let’s make it an active sort of change, full of energy and momentum and life. 

new year's day

And then Jacob said, “Mommy, can we have a New Year’s Revolution?”

A revolution? A revolution. Indeed. I think we can. 

kale

Revolution: Part One 

Mark Bittman’s opinionator piece from January 1st is well worth reading if you are on board with the idea of a food revolution – or, more specifically, a food system revolution. I’m trying to do what I can to chip away, with “energy, action and patience.” (I’m working on patience all around, so I can embrace this as one more area to practice it in.)

Jacob looks

Bittman’s rallying call to make direct requests for specific changes is excellent, and the first two on his list have profound resonance for me: “[W]e must fight to protect and improve programs that make food available to lower-income Americans. We must also support the increasingly assertive battles of workers in food-related industries; nothing reflects our moral core more accurately than the abuses we overlook in the names of convenience and economy.” Real food, and real rights; I’m hoping we can take real steps towards those things this year.

LuDu

Revolution: Part Two

We already eat a largely vegetarian, whole foods diet. This year, we’re making one night a week officially vegan. No weird meat replacements or processed-soy-whatsits. Just sometimes using coconut oil instead of butter, or skipping cheese on top, or putting beans in the pot instead of chicken. It’s a small step, but it’s something real we can do so that our household is making a difference. We’re flapping our little butterfly wings and hoping for a swarm.

kale

Revolution: Part Three

You know how, sometimes, you just get in a rut in the kitchen, and can’t seem to get out? I have been making the same vegetable soup for, let’s see, at least seven years now. As in, the exact same. As in, never once adding a new spice or flavor. I like it the way it is; Kyle likes it the way it is; Jacob declares it his favorite dinner, every time I make it.

kyle and lucas

And yet.

soup

The other week, missing celery and worried there would be a flavor problem, I added – dill (lots of dill) and mustard (lots of mustard!) to the pot.

Wait, what? I did that? I did! And we all loved it. And then last week – I made it again!

so with flowers

And while I was happily shaking dill and spooning mustard, I thought – I should really try this more often. When recipes work, I love them. I depend on them. But sometimes, something different tastes … different. And that’s nice. So we’re going to revolutionize a few standbys this year; as in, maybe vinegar chicken needn’t be confined to red-wine-and-rosemary. Or maybe enchiladas work with a red sauce and not just our (veryveryfavorite) green one.

J and So

Maybe – maybe – there are even other things hanging around the kitchen that would like to wear a bright new coat of mustardy-herby goodness. We won’t know unless we try, right?

Revolution: Part Four

We make our own bread, we rock the farmer’s markets, we love our CSA farm, heck we got a holiday card from the chickens who lay our pastured, pastel-hued eggs. But what percentage of our dollars are we really pumping back in to our community? I was inspired by Deanna to start tracking it more carefully, and this year I want to see if we can push our numbers in the direction of LOCAL.

kale chips

Revolution: Part Five

This one’s pretty simple, and sweet Luisa has beaten me to the punch today (and ok, most everyone else in the world appears to have beaten me to the punch by, like, a few years) – but friends, it’s a leafy green revolution: we are going to eat more kale chips. Lots more. We made them at home for the first time last week; thirteen seconds after I set them on the table, they were gone, and all three of my guys were covered in a dusting of fine kale-green powder. Lucas calls them Sea Weed, which he pronounces Wee Wee, which makes Jacob laugh – and that is just the icing on my kale chip cake.

¡Viva la Revolución!

mustard vinaigrette

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where's lucas?

We spent New Year’s Day with the usual suspects, at one of our favorite places – and to quote my sexy husband, it was glorious. We remain thankful – for the food we eat, for the people we love, for the world we live in, for the chance we have every day to take huge steps and feel the planet’s roundness beneath our feet. Happy new year everyone – let’s make it all that we want it to be, and then some.

xo

Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then the shadow sweeps it away. You know you’re alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.
~ Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

caution

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Kale Chips
I based my first go at these on Emmy’s recipe which was adapted from Bon Appetit in 2009, and Luisa’s explanation is also great. We have used lacinato and curly kale both, and Emmy assures us that any and all kinds of kale will work.

I know this is not news, exactly, but – toasted kale is AWESOME. I like raw and steamed and souped-up kale, too, but even people who don’t like those things will probably love these. The chips are crisp and shattery like potato chips, and have an airy barely-there quality to them that is positively addictive. They are salty, and umami-y, and take all of no time to prepare. We’ve eaten them straight, but they are also genius on top of pasta and feta tossed with a mustardy vinaigrette. They make a nice crisp point over soup, or topping a wedge of roasted squash. Just don’t get any ideas about dipping them in hummus: as Jacob said, they are very, very, very, very fragile and crumbly. And also, very delicious.

This part of the revolution is going to be a piece of cake :)

1 bunch of kale, washed and well dried
2-3 teaspoons olive oil
Salt
Optional: additional seasonings, such as parmesan cheese, spices, etc.

Preheat the oven to 250 and line two baking sheets with parchment. Cut the stems out of the kale, and cut the leaves into ribbons. Toss the kale ribbons gently with the olive oil, rubbing it in to coat all leaves (nice and moisturizing for your clean hands!). Spread the kale on two cookie sheets in as close to single layers as possible. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt.  Bake until the kale is crisp but not charred; rotate pans after about ten minutes of cooking. My chips take about 20 minutes, but they can take up to 35 per Emmy.

Remove from oven, and try not to eat them all right off the pan.

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Change It Up Vegetable Soup

This is a variation (!) on Jacob’s favorite vegetable soup. Like the original it tastes good right off the stove, but gets even better as it sits in the fridge all week. You can make it with chicken stock, vegetable stock, or just water and some salt. The dill and mustard are subtle despite the quantities, and they are surprising in a really good way. Kyle and I couldn’t get enough of this – we don’t usually use dill in soup, but it is fresh and herby tasting in a really wonderful way here. The mustard adds a note of zest and deepens the flavor. Some crumbly feta over top of a bowl of this marries really well with the mustard and dill, too. Go ahead – change it up :)

Drizzle of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
(Optional: chop the leftover kale stems from your chips and add them with the celery)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (we like Muir Glen Organics)
4 cups stock or water
1/2 green cabbage, thinly ribboned (or: one bunch kale, thinly ribboned)
1 cup mung beans or lentils
2 tablespoons dried dill
2-3 tablespoons grainy mustard (spicy or not, to your taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: brined feta to crumble over top

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pan (with a lid). Add onion and cook a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add carrot and celery and cook a few minutes. Add tomatoes and 3 cups of the water or stock, stir in the mustard and dill, bring to a boil. Add the beans or lentils, plus the additional water or stock if needed to cover them. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until beans are softened but still have some bite. Add cabbage ribbons, put on the lid, reduce heat and and let simmer ten minutes more, until the cabbage is softened and incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with a nice crusty bread for sopping.

10 thoughts on “I think we can

  1. Haha- I’m going to definitely make some “wee-wee chips” this week. Perhaps calling them that will motivate my kids to eat them. I hear you on the soup thing, too. I’m switching it up as I type this with dried beans in the crock pot instead of canned. A new year to try out some new (and more sustainable) habits. And really, man oh man, so often I have coastal jealousy when I read your blog. Beautiful pictures, Hannah.

    • My kids are usually pretty so-so on kale, but they are nuts for these chips – hopefully your guys will love them (and teach their new little brother to love them, when the time comes!). (We are definitely lucky to live where we do – I head to the coast every time a new housing index comes out showing how unaffordable a place the peninsula is to live, ha :)) Happy new year, and cheers to more sustainable habits!

  2. Oh, this is so inspiring. And also makes me feel like a total slacker, since the best I can do is get Annie’s whole wheat macaroni into him! Sigh. Once we move west, we’re going to join the revolution!

    • Rest assured, Lucas would eat noodles for every meal if we let him. The boy loves his noo-noos! But wait, now that you are home all day don’t you have tons of time for making kale chips?!?! Hahahahaha ;) We will eagerly await your journey west … more cousins for cousin-time! xo

  3. We ALWAYS eat the kale chips right off the pan. What’s the point of dirtying another dish?? They are so crazy good, aren’t they? My husband has declared this “the year of kale” in our house. We’ve been putting it in everything. On one of your non-vegetarian nights, start a small amount of something smokey (bacon, sausage) in a pot. Meanwhile chop your kale leaves roughly. Remove the bacon to drain (and most of the fat except a tablespoon or so) and cook the kale to your liking. Sprinkle it with the bacon, a smidge of sea salt and a drizzle of something vinegary. I have to keep reminding myself there are other vegetables in the world since we started making this.

    As always, you inspire me. I need to focus in on our food in a meta way in these dark, snowy months. But first I need to complete my total clean out/clear out of my house. Basement, closets, drawers. Nothing is safe from my need to purge the stuff we’re not using. There are too many cold people out there for me to have warm coats that nobody can wear. And I’ve declared myself liberated from useless guilt about giving away things people have given me. The useless shall be given to someone who can use it!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m with you on the push to spend locally. We get our eggs at the local feed store (when my sister’s hens aren’t producing enough for her to supply us) but I know there’s a lot more we can do.

    • I keep telling people about the kale chips – it really is crazy how good they are! I have been making two pans full and then just standing there eating one. Sometimes it’s the little things … :)

      A New Year’s clean! Tara at Tea and Cookies posted something recently about how in Japan they do their ‘spring cleaning’ at this time of year (http://www.teaandcookiesblog.com/2013/01/clean-and-clear.html) and I can see how it is tempting! I tend to get rid of things constantly and make near-weekly runs to donate stuff – I can’t stand ‘stuff’! – but somehow it just keeps accumulating … Maybe I’ll follow your lead this week and floss the closets :) Happy new year to you and yours ~~

    • Can’t wait to see what breads you make (and share with readers?). Also, there have to be some awesome poems out there about bread, right? Happy new year Nicole! :)

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