Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kale with Wild Rice and Mushrooms

We sell a lot of kale at the grocery store!

It's difficult to believe that kale was once the leafy green that was impossible to find. Really? Yep!

Now, it's everywhere. Despite "foodie predictions" which love to announce its demise, kale shows no sign of disappearing. And I say that as a clerk in the produce department of a large grocery store. Recently, kale has found its way into pre-packaged salad mixtures and even fresh, mixed greens for making smoothies and powdered mixes for the same.

I was first introduced to kale in the 1980s via an Irish stew recipe. Wonderful. Unlike spinach, kale's wooliness holds up well in dishes that require a long braise or simmer, such as a stew. I have since lost this recipe. It was from the PBS series, The Victory Garden, with Mariane Morash. If anyone has the video or recipe, please let me know.

This is a rather simple dish to prepare, with the exception of the wild rice which takes some time. Now, however, one can actually purchase wild rice already cooked in a pouch and ready to go! Me? I'll stick to the old-fashioned way. To add more flavor, cook both rices in a bit of chicken or beef stock (or both). Feeling adventuresome? Add a bit of raisins (or dried cranberries) when you saute the onions.

You may serve this immediately right from the pan, but I prefer to place it in a casserole dish and sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan or Gruyere and bake just until the cheese melts. This is a great make-ahead side. And it pairs beautifully with my recipe for baked carrots.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1, 12-oz. package button mushrooms, stems removed and chopped in a 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (may sub leeks)
  • 1 pound kale, stems and spines removed, leaves roughly cut
  • 1 cup short-grain rice, cooked
  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A bit of dried or fresh thyme leaves
  • A few scratches of fresh nutmeg (optional)

Heat the oil in a saucepan over hight heat for a couple of minutes to get it really hot. Add the mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Saute until the mushrooms give off their water and it evaporates a bit and the mushrooms begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the onion and saute until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Add the kale and cover tightly with a lid so that the greens wilt. Once the greens have wilted slightly, toss with mushrooms and onion mixture and saute until the kale becomes tender but still retains a bright green color. Add more oil if the mixture is dry. Add the rices and stir all the ingredients together. Add nutmeg, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese. Cover slightly until cheese melts.

NOTE: This is what I do:
To make one day ahead, place mixture in a covered casserole dish about 10 x 6 or 8 x 8. About one-half hour before serving, sprinkle with fresh Parmesan or Swiss-like cheese and bake for about 20-30 minutes in a 350 F oven or until warmed through.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Since autumn, I have been taking care of two groups of feral kittens that live behind the grocery store where I work. Biscuit and Boo are from one mom (they had a sibling but it died early on) and the gray kittens are from another mom.

The black kitten, Ink, showed up later on, so he really was not a part of either family. I found him curled as tight as possible in the middle of a field one snowy, wintry day. He and Zen Mitten are now buddies.

I have never experienced such a loving creature as Zen Mitten. He is very "centered" and loves everyone.

These cats have been neutered and spayed and chipped. The tips of their ears have been nipped to show they are being taken care of and this "pod" is registered with the state. Because of a lack of foster homes, they were re-leased because it was felt they were well-taken care of and in a safe environment.

Many people help out and they have provided dry, tiny shelters for them hidden in the field.

I can now pet all but one. We have homes for two.

North Carolina puts down more cats than any other state. We have tried to trap the mother cats, but they are old and savvy. Biscuit and Boo's mother is a beautiful and matronly calico with green eyes.

Not all cats are "dumped." Many simply run away, which I think perhaps Ink did. My own cat, Chalk, did.

If you know of people who look after feral cats, don't hesitate to donate a few bucks. Five bucks can buy a lot of food.