The broccoli saga continues.
At first it was the ground hogs. A family of ground hogs had hunkered down in the broccoli patch belonging to my local Consumer Supported Agriculture farmer and had grown quite fond of the broccoli. They managed to spare a little bit for the second week of the share.
Then the heat hit, and before the broccoli could make it into the following week’s distribution, it had yellowed and started to blossom, leaving the farmer to have to toss 300 heads of broccoli.
That’s a loss for the ground hogs, a loss for CSA members, and a loss for the farmer. In a spring peppered with too much rain, making it tough to plant in, followed by not enough rain, making it tough to grow what’s been planted, it’s been hit or miss for various crops for local farms. What one farm may have a low yield in may come in well for another farm. A query of a several local farms revealed two broccoli busts, one lower than expected yield, and one broccoli boon. (Question: How does a farmer spell “insurance”? A: “S-U-C-C-E-S-S-I-V-E P-L-A-N-T-I-N-G-S”)
By planting the same crop every few weeks or so, or doing spring plantings followed by fall plantings for those vegetables that suffer in the heat, the farmer increases the odds they’ll get a good yield.
So while that week’s broccoli crop was a bust, the next planting may fare better, and if that one bolts with the heat, there’s often a fall planting to look forward to. In the search for broccoli, the old adage comes to mind: “There’s strength in numbers.” If the farm you usually frequent doesn’t have what you’re looking for, another farm often will.
In the meantime, farm stands are chock full of favorites like corn, garlic, and blueberries. There are also many not-so-well-known vegetables, such as kale, which is being touted as one of the newest cancer-fighting heavyweights, although its origins are really quite old.
If collard greens are considered a distinctly Southern crop, then kale must be their Northern cousin. As indomitable as a Massachusetts Democrat, kale perseveres through the fickle New England summer, lasting from early summer through early winter. According to the website for Fresh Rhode Island (www.farmfresh.org), kale is “insanely nutritious.” The American Cancer Society recommends eating cruciferous vegetables, including kale, as they contain certain compounds that are thought to reduce the risk for colorectal cancer. Either way, getting your green on by eating kale is one way to get your recommended daily servings of vegetables.
Cultivated for more than 2,000 years, kale was the most widely eaten green vegetable throughout Europe until being replaced by the lowly cabbage. Its resistance to frost made it perfect for Northern climates and became such a staple in Scotland that the term “kail” became another name for dinner
Today kale is gaining popularity due to its nutritional attributes. An excellent source of Vitamins K, A, and C, kale is also a good source of several B Vitamins, iron, Vitamin E, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Kale proves its versatility with the many ways it can be cooked: Steam, stir fry, sauté, add to soups, roll and stuff the larger-leaf varieties like dinosaur kale as you would cabbage leaves and as many veggie-resistant people are discovering, kale chips are a great way to snack healthy.
Kale keeps well in the refrigerator and freezes easily; just blanch in boiling water for two minutes, then dry and freeze.
1 bunch kale — torn into bite-size pieces
Seasoning (e.g., sea salt or Adobo)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 250. Toss kale with salt and enough olive oil to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove any crispy chips and return tray to oven, checking every 5 minutes to remove the chips as they become crisp. Best if eaten that day.
Sweet and Savory Kale
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onioin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 Tsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups kale
1/4 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, sugar, cider vinegar, and broth and bring to a boil. Add kale, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in dried cranberries and continue boiling for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced almonds before serving.