All last summer, I kept seeing blog posts about kale. The new superfood, the garden miracle, and delicious too. The terrible truth is that I find kale rather bitter and not terribly enticing. Maybe it is that I prefer my greens raw, or maybe it is that kale has such a strong and distinctive taste… who knows. But what I did know is that while I will eat it from time to time, I don’t love kale enough to eat it on a regular basis.
But then I read about kale chips, and everyone who made them kept raving about them over and over again, and talking about how their kids couldn’t get enough of them, and how they were even better than potato chips.
Wait… what??? There’s something better than potato chips? Right then, I just knew that I was going to have to grow kale in the garden this year.
We have a long, narrow raised bed along our west fence (lest you think we live on a ranch, you should know that on our little plot of suburbia, the west fence is all of 14 m long). Every year, I plant lettuce and carrots and broccoli and other goodies in that raised bed using a rather intensive planting method called Square Foot Gardening. And every year, the bunnies that visit us regularly thank me dearly for the lovely, overfull all-night-all-day buffet breakfast-lunch-and-dinner I provide them.
I hate the bunnies.
Clarification: I love bunnies, I love how cute they are, I love their ears, I love their little tails, I love the way their nose wiggles while they munch away, and I really, truly wish I could talk The Man We Call Dad into allowing us to have a bunny of our very own, allergies be damned. But I hate the wild bunnies who believe my garden is their very own personal buffet. Especially when they chew all the bark of the newly planted apple tree. And the crabapple. And the service berry.
But a little birdie told me that bunnies like kale. And another little birdie told me that kale chips are delicious.
I am sure you can see where this is going.
This year, I planted kale in the garden. I placed it all along the front border of the raised bed, and boy oh boy is it happy there! What’s more, boy oh boy are the rabbits happy that it is there! It’s true – the rabbits have been happily munching on kale and leaving my lettuces and carrots alone! For the first time ever, I think my romaine lettuce my survive long enough to form actual heads!
With the rabbits happily munching away, it was time to see if kale chips are all they are reputed to be. First, I picked and washed a largish head of kale, and then I pulled its leaves off.
Next, I cut the ribs off the leaves as I hear they get a little bitter and aren’t very chip-like. Given that I was also trying to entice the kids into trying kale chips, anything not chip-like had to go.
I then tossed the kale with about 1/4 tsp of garlic powder and a Tbsp of olive oil, then spread it out on my favourite stone baking sheet before putting it in the oven at 200 for a while.
After baking at low temperature for a while (you could also do this step in a dehydrator, but sadly, I do not own a dehydrator), the chips changed colour and took on the texture and weight of… paper. It’s true! They were light and airy and nothing at all like potato chips except in that they are crunchy and flavourful.
Naturally, my kids didn’t like them.
But my niece did. So much so, in fact, that after munching on them by the fistful at our picnic on the beach, she took the entire rest of the bag home and I was left with nothing.
It’s a good thing I have more kale in the garden. Maybe I’ll make them with some Tex-Mex flavouring this time.