Archive for August, 2010
Cavolo Nero Kale Chips

Cavolo Nero Kale Chips

Posted 24 August 2010 | By | Categories: Cooking, Food, Gardening, Make Things, Vegetables | 3 Comments

My fabulous Aunt Jan introduced me to the addictively delicious treat known as kale chips Stateside in June, making them from a bunch of mature cavolo nero, and serving them up elegantly in a tall glass a la Dan Barber. Now that I’m back in a winter (almost spring!) garden filled with greens, I’m making them almost every other day.

I have been experimenting with all different types of kale, cabbage and greens, and they’re almost all good. Young cavolo nero, also known as lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, and dinosaur kale, is my favorite to use, but curly kale, red Russian kale, squire kale and even savoy cabbage leaves work well too. Mustard greens, not so much. But since they’re taking over the garden, we’ll figure out some great things to make with them by next week. (Your favorite mustard green recipe suggestions are very welcome!)

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Ingredients:
1 bunch cavolo nero, other kale and/or savoy cabbage leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

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Directions:

  • Wash the leaves and dry them well. To tear or not to tear? I prefer to leave the stems intact — with younger kale, the stems aren’t thick or tough, and they still get crispy and delicious.
  • Toss with olive oil and sea salt.
  • Preheat an oven to 180° C (350° F).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but makes for joyfully easy cleanup) and arrange the leaves in a single layer. You may need two baking sheets, depending on leaf size and number.
  • Bake until the edges are crisp but not burned, approximately 10 minutes.

Delicious variations:

  • toss in some apple cider vinegar with the olive oil and salt.
  • add cumin
  • add cayenne pepper
  • add curry powder
  • add finely grated parmesan (or other) cheese

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Enjoy them in a glass, on a plate, crumbled on some popcorn, in your mouth…

Mystery Plant Identity Revealed

Mystery Plant Identity Revealed

Posted 22 August 2010 | By | Categories: Gardening, Links, Plants | Comments Off on Mystery Plant Identity Revealed

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A while back, I sent out a question via Twitter to see if anyone could identify this plant I was seeing explode all over the neighborhood. I asked everyone I passed on my walks if they knew and still couldn’t find the answer, so I printed out the pictures and took them to a meeting of the Wellington Botanical Society for help. (Thank you BotSoc!) I’m pleased to present you these images of Karo, also known as Pittosporum crassifolium.

Though Karo is naturally coastal, it’s apparently new to find it farther South than Poverty Bay. It seems to be doing very well this year on Wellington’s Eastern peninsula. It certainly sounds like a good match for the conditions. According to Trees for Survival, a site with good resources on New Zealand native plants, it’s an excellent shelter plant that’s extremely resistant to wind, and particularly good near the
coast where salt spray makes it hard for other plants to establish.

In traditional Maori medicine, a gum is extracted from the bark and used by itself or together with that of pūhā (Sonchus species) as a cure for bad breath, sore gums or other ailments of the mouth.

Karo - Pittosporum Crassofolium

Karo - Pittosporum Crassofolium near Tarakena Bay

How to identify your own mystery plants

Recently I’ve received a few personal plant ID requests I didn’t recognize – this is one area where all of us is definitely better than one of us. Harness the power of crowdsourcing and cognitive surplus by posting your image and question to a forum for identifying specific plants or a regional botanical or gardening group. Here are some active ones that might be helpful: