All Hail to Kale

All through my growing up years, I knew I did not like kale. I had never actually tasted it, but I knew, firmly, that I did NOT like kale. Then one day, in an odd moment of culinary open-mindedness, I tried a winter greens soup, and immediately fell in love with kale. I made it three times the following week, and quickly learned a key fact: all kale is not created equal. Some of the bunches I bought were yummy and tender, and some were tough and bitter. This led me to my next conclusion: nothing matches home-grown.

Oh, kale! What a world of wonder I had been missing! Krinkly, curly Scotch kale, purple-tinged Red Russian, bumpy Black Tuscan “dinosaur” kale... the array of colors and shapes is enticing. The brightly colored ornamental kales are actually edible as well, as long as you grow your own or know for certain that they haven’t been sprayed.

Kale is one of the easiest to grow members of the brassica family, an ancient group of highly nutritious vegetables that includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. All are cool weather crops, and some are a bit challenging to grow here in Oklahoma. But kale is a forgiving and easygoing friend in the garden. Plant seedlings in early spring for harvesting through early summer, and again in September for fall and winter meals. Kale will happily carry on through cold winter temps. Indeed, most varieties are sweeter after the first freeze, although Red Russian is tender even in early fall. Pick the outer leaves off the plant, and it will continue to grow and produce. Hot weather brings bitter flavors. Brassicas respond well to very fertile soil; composted leaves are an especially good addition.

Those cute little green inchworms that appear in spring and early fall will quickly devour the leaves on a young kale plant. In a small patch, handpicking and smooshing is quick and effective.

My favorite method of cooking kale is to sauté some garlic, toss in the chopped kale, cover the pan and let it steam in its own juices, then sprinkle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Winter Greens Soup

Slightly adapted from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville

4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs canola oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 potato, diced
1 carrot, diced

20 cups of kale and/or other greens such as chard, beet greens, spinach or sorrel, chopped into strips.  That sounds like a LOT, but it really cooks down. Kale takes the longest time to cook, spinach is the fastest; add the kale first and the other greens later. The chard stems can be chopped and added initially to the sauteed vegetables.

Heat oil in soup pot, add onions, saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic, potato and carrot, and saute about 5 more minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock, cover the pot, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add kale and rest of stock. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, until kale is tender. Puree until smooth. Season with lemon juice, and add croutons and parmesan if desired.


Pecan Bounty

The pecan harvest this year has brought me to my knees, both in gratitude, and in order to harvest this bumper crop. It’s hard to beat the experience of walking around one’s own yard, gathering delicious food right off the ground. I never got very far with hand shelling our pecans, so I’ve been delighted to discover that Farmer’s Grain in Edmond will crack and blow pecans for .39 cents/#. After blowing, the pecans are almost completely shelled; you’ll still need to pick through and discard pieces of shell. By the way, pecan shells are acidic and make ideal mulch for azaleas and rhododendrons. Toasting the nuts briefly in a skillet helps bring out their flavor. I’m posting my favorite Pecan Sandies recipe on my website, www.eliawoods.com.


Pecan Sandies

1/2# butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or Arrowhead Mills Baking Mix
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups ground pecans

Soften butter and mix well with honey and vanilla. Gradually add equal amounts of flour and pecan meal, until it's the right stiffness for cookie dough. Roll into small balls, lay on greased cookie sheet, flatten a bit, and bake at 350 degrees until well-browned on the bottom, about 10-12 minutes.


Annual Valentine's Art Sale and Card Making Party

Sat. Feb. 9, 1-8pm at my studio, 1012 NW 32, OKC
Come shop for one-of-a-kind handcrafted cards, or join the fun and make your own!


Coming in May… Grounded
Solo exhibit at Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery, May 2-30, 2008
Opening reception at IAO, Sat. May 17, 6-9pm
The following weekend will feature an outdoor event at our Community Garden.

OK, folks, I’m trying something new. The limitation of doing an indoor exhibit about the world outside is that… well, it’s indoors. While being inside can offer us a chance for focus and contemplation, nothing awakens the spirit like wind on skin, the scent of damp soil, or spring’s first sweet strawberry nibbled straight from the plant. To that end, I am linking my upcoming exhibit at IAO with an outdoor event at the Central Park Community Gardens, where we are undertaking a new effort to create an outdoor green-art-environment which will encourage visitors to experience directly the beauty, complexity and healing power of the living world. More details soon!

 

 

 

 

             Issue # 9 - Winter 2008

Classes & Workshops


My solo exhibit Food for Thought premiered at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition gallery in October. This body of work celebrates our sources of sustenance and explores the sacred trust we have with the natural world. Special thanks to the TAC volunteers and staff, who made this opportunity possible, and to all of you who were able to attend or encouraged me along the way. My caterer friend Annie Jordanov created a knock-out array of appetizers for the opening reception, using locally grown vegetables. Fellow artist Lynn Craigie wrote a lovely review, which you can read on my website, www.eliawoods.com (click on “exhibits”).

I was very pleased to have my artworks Seeing Red, Little White Lies and Freedom Got the Blues accepted in Fiber National 2007 at the Lancaster Museum of Art in Pennsylvania.

Dinner in the Deuce


A exceptional exhibit at Untitled ArtSpace, 1 NE 3rd, Jan. 11-Feb. 23, of handcrafted dining environments created by teams of artists. My team’s table is Poised al Fresco, and includes my handwoven table napkins and hand dyed silk canopy. Even if you think you aren’t into art exhibits, check this one out! www.1ne3.org

City Arts Center at Fair Park

951-0000 or www.cityartscenter.org

Café City Arts 2008: Circus Maximus

Jan. 18 – Feb 23: my latest scarves in deflected doubleweave and shadow weave will be included.

My adult weaving classes resume Jan. 22. Tuesdays,

7-9pm or Thursdays, 10am to noon, $104 includes all supplies.

Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes: Free Event!

Sat. March 15, 1-4 pm (come and go) All ages welcome.

Bring your own eggs; we’ll provide the dyes and show you how to create tantalizingly beautiful designs.

Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

This is the first in a series of free intergenerational programs on natural dyes, held at City Arts Center, and made possible thanks to a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

Check out more of our natural dye classes, and our U-tube videos on indigo dyeing and mud painting at

www.cityartscenter.org

Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Enroll at 236-3100 x213 or www.okcmoa.com.

Pop-Up Cards With A Heart

Adults and teens
Sunday, Feb. 3, 1-4pm
$20 museum members, $25 non-members

Learn pop-up techniques while making a stack of very cool cards.

Pop-Up Valentines

Kids ages 7-10
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2-4pm
$10 members, $15 non-members

Transferring Art Nouveau Imagery onto Fabric

Sat. Feb. 16
10am – 4pm
$40 members, $50 non-members

Explore the heat transfer method of applying photo imagery to cloth. All materials provided.

 

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