Kale Chips

File this one under “Stevie, you’re the last to get on the train.” I know kale chips have been a “thing” for years, now. I tried them a while back – my friend made her own – and I wasn’t too into them. It’s been several years, though, and I had a batch of small, tender kale, so I decided to give it a shot.

I dried the kale, then drizzled it with olive oil, then massaged it to get the oil all over the leaves. In a mixing bowl with a lid, I made a spice mix – garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, and nutritional yeast, though you could obviously do any combination that suits your fancy. After that, I added the kale, put the lid on the bowl, and shook to cover the leaves.

I then arranged them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baked at 350. I turned them once, and I think total I left them in for about 15 minutes. Really, you need to just watch them for consistency, because the thickness of the kale you have will affect the amount of baking time required.

I waited to salt them until after they were baked. I think I overdid it on the salt by a little bit, but otherwise, they’re pretty darn good! We’re supposed to go hiking tomorrow, and I’ll bring them as one of our snacks.

Easter Leftovers III: Soup Time

Leftovers often mean soup. Any time there’s a big portion of meat served, it’s almost a guarantee that soup will be one of the eventual leftovers.

Soup went two ways with this ham.

First, I went with split pea soup. It’s pretty traditional to use ham with split pea. I used ham stock that I made from the ham bone, plus I sauteed pieces of meat that then boiled in with the peas.

The last time I made split pea soup, it came out much thicker than I like. This time? It came out thinner than I like. I’m still learning. To compensate a little, I chunked up the soup by¬† adding some mixed vegetables near the end.

I’m very proud of the other direction I went with soup leftovers. This was a riff on a “Portugese Kale and Sausage Soup” that I’ve made many times. The soup works well with basically any smoky meat and any dark green. I’ve used sausage, kielbasa, and now ham, and I’ve used kale, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and beet greens.

I sauteed onions and the ham, added spices and broth, and added the greens… and then the secret ingredient that really makes this soup special: brown mustard. If you’re looking for more of a zing, you could add hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or even horseradish. We tend to leave it to the individual servings to spice up.

Both of these soups freeze & reheat well.

Off-season Cooking

I’ve been rather quiet so far this off-season. Frankly, my “day job” has been taking up a lot of my time. It’s midterm season, so it feels like my house has an endless stream of teenagers in and out of it. (I’m a private tutor.)

I’ve been working on an organization project in preparation for next season, but that will get a blog post entirely of its own sometime.

The magic still continues in the kitchen, despite the dormancy of winter, though. I’m always most grateful for the efforts of “July Me” in January or February. I certainly felt that gratitude while prepping dinner two nights ago.

I’ve been sick all week, so I needed low-effort meals that were comforting and nourishing. We had jambalaya (my mom’s recipe, done in the crock pot) on Monday, but what I want to talk about was the delicious Pork, White Bean, and Kale Soup we had on Tuesday. I got the recipe from my Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, but thankfully, they made the recipe available online, as well.

I had the pork in my freezer – a previous purchase from Wrong Direction Farm. I also had this beautiful bag of greenery from July:

THANK YOU, JULY ME.

This is what the finished product looked like. Yum.

It was exactly the comfort food I needed on a sick January weeknight.