Compost Blog

Spicy Kale Chips

FOUND IN: The Fare on March 23, 2013

When you are craving a crisp, salty snack, whip up a batch of these. It only takes a few minutes, and you are rewarded with a virtuous, healthy, but totally satisfying snack. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was junk food.

Yield: 1 large bowl-full of chips          Oven: 300 - 325° Convection oven: 250 - 275°

  • 1 large bunch of kale, washed and torn into 2" pieces (or however you like; they do shrink a little)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

In a small ramekin, mix the spices together until well-blended. You can vary them to taste. (To make plain kale chips, just omit everything but the salt and olive oil.)

Dry the kale well, in a salad spinner. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the olive oil and enough of the spices to lightly coat. Spread on a baking sheet. Put in the oven. Check them after about 10 minutes. Toss them around and let them bake until completely crisp but not burned. In my convection oven, they take 15 to 20 minutes at the lower temperature. The slower you cook them, the crispier they become.

Pour them into the serving bowl and snack away, guilt-free!

Note: you can use any kind of kale for this recipe. You can also make chips out of almost any dark leafy green: swiss chard, beet greens, tender collards, etc. Experiment!

A Cook's Larder Tip: Prepped Garlic

FOUND IN: The Fare on February 23, 2013


I use a lot of garlic in my cooking. However, I don't always want to stop and chop every time I prepare a meal. I could buy prepared garlic in jars at the grocery store, but I don't like all of those chemicals and preservatives in my food. Frankly, I don't like the taste or smell of prepared garlic, either. So here's my solution:

When I buy garlic, I buy the firmest, tightest heads I can find. The next time I need chopped garlic, I mince a whole head or sometimes two. I crush the heads with the heel of my hand, separate the cloves, smash each one under the blade of my chef's knife  to flatten it and  then start chopping. If the garlic is very sticky, I sprinkle a tiny bit of kosher salt (which I keep in a ceramic jar at my work station) on it. This helps keep it from sticking to the knife and makes it faster and easier to chop. Once the garlic is evenly chopped, I put it in a small ramekin, cover it with olive oil and then with plastic wrap. It will keep like that in the fridge for a week or more. I add more olive oil than is necessary to cover the garlic. That gives me some garlic-flavored oil to drizzle on bread for bruschetta or to use as a finishing oil for salads. When I need garlic to make a dish, I simply spoon out the chopped garlic and add more oil to keep it covered. Dinner prep is a snap when I have the garlic ready to go.

Note: prepped garlic needs to be refrigerated and covered completely with oil or it can spoil.

Sometimes All You Need is a Little Thyme

FOUND IN: The Fare on February 23, 2013

                                                       Wasp pollinating the thyme flower


This is another in our series of Serendipity Suppers. Here's how it happened. Friday evening I arrived home to find my spouse behind the refrigerator which was now sitting in the middle of the kitchen. I'm thinking this is probably not a good sign. The freezer compartment had completely thawed. Fortunately he caught it before it went above 35 degrees, so most things could be rescued (well, except for the ice cream). He had moved things that were still frozen to the big freezer in the basement, but there were 3 small pieces of beef that had completely thawed. One was a rib-eye, one a piece of chuck and the other some sirloin. Pretty random.

I don't know about you, but that sounded like stew to me. I remembered a beautiful bunch of thyme that had come in this week's farm share. A mostly full bottle of red wine sat on the counter. I had stock in the downstairs freezer, some smoky Benton's bacon, and a loaf of good bread. There were tiny whole white potatoes in the larder. I wrote a grocery list for baby onions and a pound of mushrooms. I called some friends to come for dinner Saturday night.

The potatoes were pan-roasted and served on the side. We had a beautiful salad of pea tendrils, spring mix, apples, and green onions in an orange vinaigrette. All but the apples came from my farm share. It was not exactly Julia's Bouef Bourginon, but it was delicious, hearty, rich and the perfect end to a rainy day.


Saturday Night Supper Game

FOUND IN: The Fare on February 04, 2013

Challenge: How many  farm share ingredients can you work into one dinner menu? For the past several weeks, we have been playing with our food: creating Saturday night dinners using as many of this weeks items as we can. Last night after a marvelously satisfying dinner with friends, it occurred to me that I should be sharing these menus with all of you. Perhaps some of you would be willing to play along and share yours with us, as well?

Let's start with last week's bounty. For our salad course, we had the tender ends of the pea tendrils with spinach, winter onions, and pomegranate seeds tossed with homemade buttermilk dressing with dill. The main dish was red mustard with kielbasa and apples. The pungency of the mustard went perfectly with the sweet, tart apples and the excellent smokey sausage (part of my horded stash from Jason Houser's Meathouse). Roasted golden beets with rosemary made a fine accompaniment. Then for dessert we had orange custards using those lovely Charleston's Sweetest oranges. Jim shared that recipe with you this week.

Last night I created a salad with thinly sliced beets, mangos and winter onions over spinach, with citrus vinaigrette. The combination of the beets and mangos was just serendipity, mangos having been on sale, lately. The sweetness and contrast of textures intrigued me, but the result was beyond my expectations. My darling husband made his Southern-fusion version of a classic Italian dish, which he called Greens with Sausage and Pasta. It was actually a brothy soup of several greens with spicy Italian sausage (from the Meathouse) and big handmade rigatoni (from Rio Bertolini's). What made it Southern was the infusion of some smokey Benton's bacon and a little tasso (also from the Meathouse). Simple, beautiful, and delicous, served in big white bowls. One of our guests brought crusty bread she had made, which we dunked in Olio Nuovo  (from Olinda Olives) and, of course, in our soup bowls. I've been trying to use up the last of my crop of Meyer Lemons, so I made custards using essentially the same recipe as last week, with minor adjustments. I served them with dark chocolate shortbread cookies and followed with demi-tasse cups of strong coffee.

Some of these recipes I have already posted. The others will follow shortly. As you can see, I  use many well-crafted local products and love to give a shout out to those who make them.  This year I did a fair job of stocking up before the Farmer's Market closed.  Still,  I'm always afraid I will run out before mid-April when the market re-opens. So now it's your turn. What have you been doing with all that bounty?  Chime in with some of your inspired creations. Ciao for now, Susan

Package on Your Doorstep

FOUND IN: The Fare, The Farm on January 11, 2013

Broccoli 'Packman', a cool season veggie found in the CSA Farm Share this time of year.


It's Thursday night, you've had a long week, and you come home to find a big, beautiful, but daunting bin of veggies waiting for you. You signed up for a farm share because you wanted to eat better and have fresher, more interesting meals. But now--you're tired and overwhelmed. Don't panic. You can do this in stages. Really.

So here's what I found today and how I dealt with it. I had beets with gigantic, pretty greens, kale, and a huge savoy cabbage. I also got broccoli, 2 kinds of peppers, and winter onions. I was planning a soup for supper, so I set aside part of the kale to add to my soup, along with some of the onions. Everything else I needed to store. I cut the beets off the greens, trimmed the stems of the greens to reduce their size, put them in an open plastic bag along with the kale and onions and stored them in the vegetable drawer. The beet roots I just put in the drawer, no bag.  I stored the broccoli and peppers in the drawers, unwrapped. The cabbage is large and so fresh that I simply trimmed the bottom and set it in a bowl with an inch of water. It will be fine for a couple of days. I've left pretty cabbages in a glazed bowl as decoration on occasion, until I could find time to cook them. Tomorrow I will pull off the outer leaves, stack them in a plastic bag for some stuffed cabbage rolls and store the rest of the head for later. Tonight it was just too pretty to tear apart.

Here's my plan (always subject to change, of course).

The soup I made tonight is turkey and white bean with dill and will make great lunches for several days. I'll make stuffed cabbage rolls for one or maybe two dinners with the outer savoy leaves. The beets sliced thinly and used raw as the base of a fresh salad will probably grace 2 dinners, unless we have guests. The beet greens cooked with the rest of the kale make a side dish for a simple protein for another night. Then I'll use the rest of the savoy to make a slaw for fish tacos for a change-of-pace dinner. That just leaves the broccoli. Since I need more lunches, I'll probably put it into a frittata or a quiche as the main event. That could also work as a breakfast one day.

Ah, it's good to have a plan: and to know everything will get used. I'll post the recipes for the soup, salad, fish tacos, and frittata separately. It's looking like a pretty healthy week!

Post by Chef Susan Wigley, a regular contributor on the Compost In My Shoe farm team.