Monthly Archives: April 2014

SLI’s Potato-Kale Gratin

Ok, so my friend SLI gave me a cookbook for my birthday last year – a cookbook that she wrote for me.  It’s a great story, and I’ll tell you the whole thing someday (or put it in my book!), but today is not the day for a story, today is a day for a recipe.

Here is my interpretation of SLI’s Potato-Kale Gratin:

Ingredients:

-1.5-2 lbs thin-skinned boiling potatoes (I use butter potatoes)

-1 bunch kale

-1/4 cup olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic (or Wegman’s Basting Oil, with basil and garlic already in it)

-1/3 to 2/3 cup bread crumbs

-1/3 grated Parmesan cheese

-1/2 cup mozzarella and/or white cheddar cheese

-optional: oregano, thyme, basil

Instructions:

Ok, first off – and this is totally optional – I toast my own bread crumbs.  It’s kind of a pain, but I tried it the first time because I had a concern over the ingredients in store-bought bread crumbs, and I found that it added a lot, taste-wise.  So now I do it all the time.  Take a couple slices of wheat bread, crumble them up into little pieces, and bake them on a cookie sheet for around 10 minutes (or until they look toasty but not black) at 350.  (You can always make extra for next time and stick them in the freezer until you use them again).

Next, preheat (or maintain) the oven at 350.  Boil a large pot of water, and also prepare an ice bath in a big bowl.  Slice the potatoes ¼ inch thick (using a knife or mandoline) and then add them to the boiling water for around 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes, dump them into the ice bath (and stir them around a bit to make sure they all get cold), drain them again and let them dry – you can blot dry with paper towel.

Cut off and throw out the spines from the kale (this means to cut off the leafy bits from the middle bits).  Wash and cut the leafy bits into ½ thick ribbons (so, length-wise – you’re not making salad, you’re making “ribbons”).

In a big bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, and some herbs (or you can use the basting oil here).  Add the kale and mix it all up with your hands.

Take a 9×12 rectangular casserole dish, or whatever other oven-safe dish you like.  Layer the kale, then potatoes, then mozzarella/white cheddar cheese, then bread crumbs, as many layers in this pattern as you can fit.  I like to end with parmesan cheese on top. Sprinkle some herbs on top too at the end.

Cover with a top or aluminum foil or a cookie sheet, and bake for 30 minutes.  Bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered.

 

YUM.

 

 

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I’m not giving up chocolate for Lent.

Every year for Lent, Christians find something to “give up.”  For many, this is a second chance at a New Year’s Resolution, like giving up chocolate for the 40 days.  Over the past few years, I’ve tried to use this time as an opportunity not to give something up, but rather to add something in.  I’ve written in gratitude journals, tried to say nice things to others, and some of these have stuck even past Easter Sunday.

This year, I took on a bit of a bigger challenge.  I vowed to do something every day to appreciate my body.  This may sound a bit weird or simple, but it is really, really hard.  How many times a day do we think, “oh, my ____ is aching,” or, “if I lost a couple of pounds right here…” with the implication that then we would be love-able, or perfect, or even just acceptable?

Especially with a condition like food allergies, it can be very difficult at times to express love and positive feeling towards myself.  After an allergic reaction, I find it especially difficult to love myself and not feel betrayed by or angry towards my body.

But when we think negatively towards our body, it is near impossible not to think negatively about ourselves as a whole.  We’re not thinking, “if I lost those two pounds my body would be so much better, but my mind is already wonderful.”  (If you do think this, kudos to you).  We generalize, and it is hard not to internalize the negativity we direct towards ourselves.

So, for Lent this year, I decided to try to raise my awareness of what I’m saying and feeling about my body, and where possible, do something every day to appreciate the body I have.  To get a little religious on you – I believe this body I have is a gift from God, so I wanted to use Lent to appreciate it a little more.

Every day, I either worked out, did 10 minutes of yoga, or wrote in a journal something that I appreciated about my body.  It was much more difficult than I expected, and some days, I’ll admit, I let it slip.  Some days I was not pleased with my body, and the best I could do was think about how thankful I was for this body that was able to run around after my 2 year old niece earlier in the day.

I have not learned to love all my imperfections in 40 days.  But, I did raise my awareness and realize the times when I am most hard on myself, and when I might need a little bit more compassion for my body (after a reaction is one of those times).  I also realized that when I work out, when I go to bed early and when I put good food into my body, the appreciation grows.  I’m imperfect, and so are you, and that’s okay.

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