For those of you who don’t know, we’ve been subjected to a slew of home disasters over the past two weeks. First and foremost, a tree crashed into our house during a storm, which means we get a brand-new roof to replace the slightly brand-new one we just put on last summer. Awesome. Then, two days ago, basically our entire plumbing system shut down. Homeownership is a joy, right? I told David we had to stop making fun of Sarah Palin, that God must be punishing us.
So what does this have to do with the kitchen, besides the fact that I am bitter that the damn tree didn’t crash there, resulting in a brand-new kitchen for momma? Well, for some reason, I decided to make Kale Chips right before the plumber came. Why? Well, I had Kale Chips at the Farmers’ Market and loved them, so I decided to make them myself…oh — you mean, why did I decide to cook when I knew a complete stranger was coming to dismantle the kitchen? ((shrug?))
So, while Yancey from AUX Plumbing was working on this area of the kitchen:
…I busied myself at the stove, making Kale Chips. Now you may be asking yourself, “What the hell are Kale Chips?” Funny, Yancey the Plumber was equally curious. When he walked in and saw the fresh kale on cookie sheets, he said, “Man, those greens smell good!”
What he was actually smelling was the pre-heated oven charring leftover food bits, but whatever. Why disillusion the man? Since I am not a genius at small talk, especially when I am trying to act as “straight” as possible (this coming from the guy wearing two bracelets, cooking kale chips), I decided to give Yancey a butched-up explanation about what was going on.
“Well, I usually cook greens like normal, but I had some kale chips at the Farmers’ Market and they were really good. I found a recipe online and you actually bake them!”
“Bake them?” Yancey said, incredulously.
“Yeah, can you believe it?” I said. No, indeed, Yancey could not.
So, while Yancey proceeded to saw our kitchen sink pipes in half and snake out our 90-year-old drain, I proceeded to make kale chips. Here’s how I did it.
First, if you recall from Yancey’s keen nose, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Then I removed all of the stalks from the kale. Or are they ribs? I wasn’t sure, and Yancey didn’t weigh in. So let’s say ribs.
So I removed the ribs and proceeded to tear the kale into credit-card size pieces. Obviously they don’t have to be uniform. Or the size of credit cards. Just small-ish pieces. I spread the kale out in a single-ish layer on three cookie sheets, then sprayed it down with some olive oil cooking spray.
After that, I got out some spices, along with some walnuts I had pulsed in the food processor before Yancey arrived. I sprinkled the nuts, spices, salt and pepper over the kale, sprayed with a bit more olive oil before popping them in the oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, Yancey is just snaking away. I offer to help, which is about the funniest joke I’ve ever heard. First of all, the sink was gurgling and spewing more filth than Linda Blair. Second, what help could I be, really? Let’s be honest, the under-sink area frightens me. It’s dark and I don’t know what any of it means — like a Björk album.
And then David comes home. Much like Peter (the Cat), who scrambles underneath the bed whenever he hears workboots traverse our hardwoods, David is a little phobic of the service industry. Having reached his limit lately with insurance adjusters and contractors, he bolted for the safety of the den. (Note: He may have tried to get under the bed, too, but I did not actually witness this).
It’s slightly humorous to note that David did not express surprise that I was cooking amidst the kitchen repair. Amusement, but not surprise. ((shrug?))
So the timer finally beeped and I pulled the kale chips out of the oven. It basically dehydrates them into crisps. It’s really interesting. And by interesting, I mean odd. But cool. Okay, cool if you are a kitchen nerd.
See — they shrink up like crazy. The weird part is that they don’t wilt like you’d think. They actually remind me (and I realize this is not a selling point but it’s the most accurate description I can muster) of fish food flakes. Stop thinking about it.
Kale is super-healthy, containing gargantuan amounts of vitamin C, A, and K, plus tons of other awesome stuff (trust me on this, but feel free to Google it). I’ll be honest, they’re no substitute for a good Lay’s potato chip, but they do have a very satisfying crunch factor.
Yancey was all done, the check was signed, and he was packing up to go. I looked at the kale chips. Then I looked at Yancey. I figured I should offer him a kale chip, but I didn’t want to be weird. Then I thought about it: Yancey had just spent the last hour snaking the drain while the homo-homeowner (in bracelets) was baking perfectly good greens in the oven and taking pictures of it. I was too late — the Crazy Train had already left Weird Station and it was hurtling toward Bizarre-ville.
So I figured, why the hell not?
“Hey man,” I said, because ‘man’ is totally something guys say to each other, right? “Since you watched all this happen, do you want to try one of these kale chips?”
It’s hard to say exactly what went through Yancey’s mind at this point. Seeing as how he was a really nice guy, it was probably benign. But in my mind he had to be thinking, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” I saw his wheels turning, but politeness won out.
“Um, sure, man…” he said. So I gave him one. Crunch, crunch, crunch…chewed Yancey. The look on his face read as “perplexed.” Perhaps he, too, was equating it to fish food, and then reasoning that fish food probably doesn’t crunch for fish, seeing as how they’re underwater and all.
“That’s not bad,” Yancey said, smiling. I helped him out a bit, saying, “Yeah, it’s kinda weird, but different.” He agreed, and finished packing up.
On his way out, we were making small exit-talk about the downed tree, the damage, and my crossed fingers for no more disasters.
“Well, I’ll be sure to pray for y’all,” Yancey said.
A very kind sentiment, which I think is very nice. But I can only imagine that prayer:
“Dear God, It’s me, Yancey … Man, have I had a weird day…”
Have a great weekend, everybody, and have some fun in the kitchen. Just maybe wait until the plumber leaves. 😉