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Adventures in Kale Chips!

August 2, 2011
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I don’t consider myself much of a cook. I find little joy in the daily chore of ensuring my body has sufficient fuel to function and function properly. My sense of food adventure is also limited; no shellfish for me (allergic), and nothing out of my prairie upbringing has appeal, like squid. Pineapple makes the back of my throat burn. And some things just register as “icky”. My apologies to all those who enjoy such delicacies.

On the other hand… I was not raised with spicy food or food seasoned with more than salt and pepper and the flavours given by nature, like chicken broth and bacon. Yet, I like curry; not hot curry, mind you, but curry with a little zing and a lot of flavour. And I like food flavoured with rosewater; yes, I had to get over that “soap” mental block, but soap was/is scented with food products, so I’m still working on getting used to orange blossom water (can you say, “Camay”? I knew you could!).

Over this past year I experimented with kale chips. Or maybe Kale Chips! I was introduced to it, plain and salted, at a medieval event; it’s just as addictive as any junk food!

Since I like kale anyway (Portuguese style potato and kale soup, kale in curry, stir-fried kale seasoned with soy sauce), it was a short step to chips.

My first forays were simple: prep kale and pop into the oven, experimenting with different temperatures, and varying the spices from plain to paprika to chili powder. But today…

Today I had great massive amounts of kale! Today, the experiment!

I found the oven method was very time sensitive: a moment too late, and the kale was burnt and bitter. Lower the temperature, bake longer, and, well, I’m still hovering over the oven to save my chips. Then it occured to me: dehydrator!

My parents, eons ago, gave me a dehydrator, one of those stacking deals that runs on electricity. A hot day like today, such an appliance can run -outside-!

So to the experiment.

Recipe:
Kale Chips

  • bunch of Kale – give it a good rinse, strip the stalk out of the leaf (like stripping thorns off roses), and dry thoroughly so the oil sticks
  • Olive oil – about one tablespoon (measuring spoon) of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (may as well be good oil, since it plays a major role); put it into a big bowl
  • Season – about one teaspoon (measuring spoon) of spice, or more of something with less bite, mixed into the oil
  • Mix – rip kale into 3-4″ pieces, and toss into the seasoned oil; mix very, very well to ensure leaves are well-coated
  • Dry/bake – spread leaves on the dehydrator trays, or, for the oven (set to 300 deg. F) on parchment on non-insulated baking sheets; only a single layer; the dehydrator takes about 2-ish hours for me, and the oven will be about 20-ish minutes (turn at least once half-way through); don’t overcook, but remove from heat as soon as the kale is crispy, before it browns

That’s pretty much it.

Oh, and all the kale? I experimented with seasonings.

  1. 1 tsp commercially-made Cajun Spice (excellent!)
  2. 1 Tbl each fresh parmesan cheese and engevita yeast (hm. might be better if dressed after baking)
  3. 2 tsp za’atar blend (excellent!)
  4. in the past, 1 tsp paprika plus a good sprinkle of salt (v. good!)
  5. in the past, 1 tsp chili powder (excellent!)
  6. in the past, 1 tsp dried dill plus salt (v. good!)
  7. I’ve heard of using an Herbs de Provence blend
  8. I’ve heard of using soy sauce with the EVOO
  9. I’ve heard of using balsamic vinegar with the EVOO

It has a kale-ish flavour, even without the spicing, so it may still be an acquired taste. And it has good healthy stuff in it, especially if you chose to use a dehydrator rather than an oven.

Make lots. If this appeals to you, you won’t be able to stop at just one!

Have you tried other spices? How’d they work out?

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