The trouble with kale

Fall is not my favorite season.

Yes, I know, blogland abounds with people raving about fall and there are Thanksgiving recipes everywhere. The cooler weather, the colors of the leaves, frost on the pumpkins, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin whatevers….

Yes. All that is fine, but the truth is I miss my garden.

I miss eating veggies and grilling out every night on the back porch.

I miss going out in my shorts and t-shirt every day at 3:00 to pick whatever looks good for dinner.

I miss iced mint tea on hot days and, well, you get it. Tomorrow it is supposed to snow…

So in an effort to extend the growing season here I planted a little fall garden when I harvested the garlic. Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Radishes, Green Onions, and Beets. And more beets. Can’t have too many beets…

We’ve been eating lots of Arugula salads with radishes and our last peppers…

But the kale…

I just don’t like it much. I know how nutritious it is. I know it is filled with vitamins, minerals, and all those omega good-for-yous. I know people make green smoothies from it. I just wish it tasted more like spinach. I wish our spinach had grown as well as the kale is growing.

So last week I decided I needed to pick some of that kale and eat the stuff. Kale Chips. Anything with olive oil and salt on it can’t be bad, right?

I watched a video.

From the video I deduced how it went wrong last year:  I didn’t dry the leaves enough after washing them, and instead of becoming crispy little chips, they were soggy green leaves with burnt edges.

I washed each leaf thoroughly because the first one I picked up had a little big green cabbage worm on it. I don’t like the thought of eating green cabbage worms.  I stopped growing broccoli years ago for that very reason.

So I hand washed and dried every leaf, cut out the stalks, and sliced each leaf into 3-inch pieces. I left them on the counter to go check what the oven temperature should be (anywhere from 275 to 350 depending on whether you watch the video or go by Guy Fieri’s Food Network recipe).

When I returned to my neatly sliced, diced, seriously studied kale leaves, there it was.

And so I checked every leaf on both sides again.

Scrupulously. Somehow I can’t imagine the perky blonde cook on the video finding cabbage worms in her kale. So I’m mentioning it to you because no one else does. If you grow or buy organic kale, you’re going to have cabbage worms. (One way to get rid of them is soak your kale in salted water for 10-15 minutes; but honestly, that seems to me like diluting the minerals that kale is loaded with, so I prefer to get rid of them by hand.) Next year I’m going to try Swiss Chard instead…

I tossed them with olive oil and salt and baked them in a 275 degree oven for 22 minutes. They were okay actually pretty good. And if there were any cabbage worms in there, at least they were dead and crispy.

kale chips

…and for cooking regular greens, I’m using beet greens because cabbage worms don’t bother the beets.

And if you aren’t a greens fan, here is a great tip: Take 5-7 leaves of whatever fall green you like. I mix them usually. Stack the leaves and roll them lengthwise. Slice into quarter inch rolls, and then chop them again so you have little pieces. Throw them into your sautéed onions and garlic and then mix them into whatever you are cooking. It ramps up nutritional value, they cook down and one hardly notices them.

sautéed veggies with chopped greens

Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to count your blessings and eat your greens.

120. A Little House-Keeping

Never had much use for house keeping,
Slut’s wool gathers under the bed.
Cat hair fluffs and floats in corners;
I’d rather read and write instead.

Or wander off into the forest,
finding crumbs along the trail,
Capturing light, watching chipmunks,
Listening to leaves tell their tale…


There isn’t much house-keeping happening at the cottage these days.

It’s a time of waiting;
a time of gathering in;
a time of accepting the darkness and lighting a candle.

So this month my blog posts will change a bit.
I’m joining up with PhotoBlogging 101.

I’m going to try to improve my camera skills
by posting a photo every day,
and my written posts will come on the weekends.
For anyone who bothers to keep track of how things are done around here,
the photo posts will not be numbered.
And they will showcase the overall theme of gratitude.

Because I’m thankful.
For it all.
Even the darkness.
Gratitude is greater than sorrow.
Gratitude grasps the hope of tomorrow.

fall through the window

82. Plus ça change…the circle of life

Life in August and September has been lively: anniversaries, birthdays, the start of school, funerals, a wedding, and two houses that compete for our attention.

The start of school means back to work — organizing books, planning lessons, and this year it meant re-organizing the main section of the library after a flood last year.

Our good neighbor died suddenly in early September, and my beloved aunt died a few days ago after a long, well-lived life.  A sudden death forces us to think on priorities and the preciousness of life; the other brings unexpected memories and reminds us of the preciousness of life…

Bride and groomMy son married his love on September 14th, which would have been my Dad’s 92nd birthday. He would have been delighted! My granddaughter Olivia turned 11 on September 18th, which was my Mom and Dad’s anniversary. August 18th is our own anniversary. Our August and September calendars are circled heavily with red-letter days, both present and past. Red-letter days remind us of the preciousness of life…

And those two houses? One soon to be for sale, one soon to be lived in full time… Oh my, they are such time-suckers. We went into this adventure with our eyes wide open. We knew it would be hard, time-consuming, and detail-oriented. But I’m not sure we knew just HOW MUCH time is consumed in the redo of a house. Now it is already started, we are in the middle, and I am reminded of the preciousness of life and how easily it can be wasted by the details and busy-ness of living…


It’s been two weeks since I sat down to write a blog post. Life, and the busy-ness of living have gotten in the way; as posts have churned around in my mind, I realized, “Oh, I wrote about painting the house last fall” and “Oh, I took that exact same photograph of the sun rising behind the tree last fall” and “Oh, I wrote about harvesting walnuts last fall.”

Sun rising in Autumn of last year,

Sun rising in Autumn of last year,

Sun rising in the mist, First day of fall, 2013

Sun rising in the mist, First day of fall, 2013

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

I took five years of French, yet my knowledge of the language is now limited to passable pronunciation. But this French idiom has always stayed with me. Literally it is translated, the more it changes, the more it is the same thing.

Some people put a depressing slant on this phrase, meaning that nothing changes, no matter how different outward appearances are.  I’m told the French themselves use this phrase in a rather cynical fashion.

Blue sky, white cloudsI suggest that this is a hopeful thought. That the circle of seasons, births, weddings, anniversaries, yes, and even death, are put in our lives by the Creator God to give us stability and to remind us of the preciousness of life — our own lives and the lives of those who surround us. These things that don’t change? We need to be grateful for the sameness. Grateful that the sky is always blue; grateful that the leaves always turn glorious colors in autumn; grateful that school always starts in the fall and there is important work to do.

Painting the cottage, one side last year,

Painting the cottage, one side this year,

ladder leaning against house

one side last year…

Painting the house before winter sets in, gathering walnuts before the squirrels — these are all part of the pattern of life that God sets before us. The sun rising behind that same tree is part of the cycle of the sun and seasons that God gave us. Circles, cycles, predictability, patterns…those are what allow us to see also the unpredictable surprises of life and be blessed by them. No matter how much time goes by, we are all part of the amazing cycle of human life — from beginning to end, great-great grandfather to great-great grand-niece, Genesis to Revelation; no matter how the outward appearances change, the natural life that God created us for, stays the same.

The cycles and circles of life bring the stability that enable us to fully live in the present, to fully engage with the people who surround us, and to celebrate the spectacular — both the ordinary beauty and the extraordinary beauty of our lives.


Give thanks for the circles and seasons that remind us of the preciousness of life…