we have tried for many years to grow food in our north facing outdoor space. some years are more successful than others, but usually we end up with a few greens, lots of herbs, and some sweet memories to share - never enough to sustain us through the summer months though. this year we signed up for CSA (consumer supported agriculture) - the concept of a CSA is simple: you purchase a share in a local farm and in return receive a weekly delivery of locally-grown, organically produced food for approximately 16 weeks during the growing season. Additionally, our investment provides farmers peace of mind knowing that we both take on the the risk (and rewards) that come along with farming - most of their crop is pre-sold allowing them to focus their efforts on growing high quality food. it's really quite amazing! we signed up with a wonderful little farm just south of calgary called noble gardens. tim and brenda along with their 6 young children and a handful of volunteers tend to their growing farm producing everything from herbs and greens, strawberries (the most amazing i have had outside of ontario), peppers, broccoli, squash, and even free-range eggs. they work so hard, and the food they deliver each week is a beautiful result of that.
we have had three weeks of deliveries so far and, i will totally admit that the volume of food has caught me a bit off gaurd. i expected the first month or so to be relatively small in size, but WOW! we have received SO much food! of course, TONS of greens (kale, chard, various lettuces and spinach make a regular appearance) but we have also received their AH-MAZING strawberries, broccoli, a beautiful and thriving basil plant, and some of the most delicious leeks around. it's been so much fun being a part of this - each week venturing down to the hillhurst sunnyside farmers market - popping by to say hello to our usual vendors and then picking up our bag of goodies from our farmer- and its also been so refreshing to think outside the box a little in terms of what we eat. being given a bag of food that you didn't pick out yourself is exciting! it forces you to cook based on what you have rather than planning and shopping to support that, and we can ALL use more greens in our life!
anyways, we have ended up with a HUGE bounty of kale. so much so that i have had to do a bit of research around what we can do to use it all. below are a couple of really simple and yummy recipes should you find yourself in a similar kale overload predicament. just remember to cut out the really tough stems from the centre of the kale leaves.
i found a great basic recipes here, but if you want to fancy them up a bit, you could add anything from vinegar or lemon, nutritional yeast (my fav!), spices like as paprika, curry, pepper or even sprinkle them with finely grated parmesan cheese. Just add these ingredients with the olive oil.
fried kale with garlic, leeks, seeds and braggs all purpose seasoning sauce (from my good friend paula)
simmer a bit of garlic and a few chopped leeks in some olive oil. toss in the kale and mix around until starting to wilt a bit. add a couple handfulls of various seeds and a good couple of splashes of braggs all purpose seasoning and simmer for 4-5 minutes until kale is reduced and well cooked. really yummy as a side dish or spooned onto crackers or corn chips. (spread a little goat cheese on there to really make this dreamy!)
i also love boiling kale down with vegetable broth as a super easy but totally tasty side dish, tossing it in with a few other greens in a fresh salad (duh), and of course, my old standby - hail to the kale salad!
enjoy and happy growing season!