I am the youngest child in my family. By the time I was old enough to cook my Mum was past the “let us bake together, my angel children, never mind the mess” stage and into “get out of my way, are you trying to get burnt”. I haven’t really been taught to cook food basics. This can be an issue when I am faced with standard foods that I don’t care about enough to learn how to make them. I can do a mean butter chicken, for example, because butter chicken is delicious but fail every time at making vegetable soup because, ugh, vegetable soup tastes like used socks.
These days I have family of my own to feed – four people and a dog! – so obviously there’s only one solution; exploring the wonderful worlds of malnutrition and massive credit card debt simultaneously by ordering takeaway all the time! Hah, but seriously no (as my partner says to me ALL THE DAMN TIME). Most nights I try to put together a home-cooked meal to give the impression that we are a functional family unit and not a near-riot of hangry rodeo clowns held together by our shared mortgage and the promise of yogurt for dessert. I am super impatient and also have limited time between daycare pick-up and total toddler meltdown so speed and ease are of the essence.
I have been looking up a lot of “fast” recipes on the Internet which is always a quick way to cook up a boiling rage. You click on something like “simple ingredient 3 ingredient” whatever – expecting, you know, simplicity – and after a carpal-tunnel-inducing level of scrolling past prose and photos you eventually find the actual recipe right at the bloody end. It’s after 5,000 words of (completely unrelated) anecdotes and by the time you find it, it is too late to cook anything and your children have gone to the pub for dinner without you.
Adding to the carpal-twinge factor is the sheer amount of photos involved. Why do three ingredient recipes need 20 pictures? Who takes that many photos while cooking? My gastronomic adventures involve staggering around the kitchen with a screaming toddler on one leg, the dog underneath the other, and demands for attention from the four year old who will set the house on fire if I take my eyes off her for too long. The only reason for twenty photos in my kitchen will be in the insurance claim as evidence it was the four year old, and not my cooking, that burned the place down.
But anyway, food. One of the reasons I’ve been looking up a lot of recipes this week is that my fruit and veg co-op box (which I ordered in a fit of optimism, thinking we could be the sort of family actually used a veg box and not our local kebab shop on a daily basis) has delivered what I can only describe as small forest to me.
It turned out that forest was made of kale. It is embarrassing that after ten years of living in Sydney’s most leftie latte-sipping suburbs, I still had to google it. Twice. The first search being “what does kale look like” and the second “how do you do you even eat it, ugh”.
This is definitely the sort of thing you don’t share at the neighbourhood parenting group meetings around here. People would spit their fair-trade eco-friendly hand-reared and grass-fed coffee right out at you. The inner west/eastern suburbs of Sydney are suburbs where they not only embrace the eating of “superfoods” like kale and quinoa, but also the naming of their children after them: Saffron, Sage, Kale, Quinoa and Gluten-Free.
On a sidenote, we all know that “superfood” is generally marketing-speak for “lesser known foreign fruit and vegetables that don’t always taste great but we can put a huge price mark-up on, because we’re not paying the people who grow them a living wage”, right? Just checking.
Anyway, kale as a food. Sorry, just trying to get into the waffling spirit of cooking blogs here. Having googled, my number one tip for eating kale is – just don’t. It’s not worth it. Kale is 80% inedible stalks and 20% disgusting malodorous crimped leaves. It is the man-spreading of vegetables; it arrives, unwanted, to take up a load of space and goes off fast with unpleasantly organic smell. Unlike man-spreaders, you can at least put kale in your refrigerator to make it last longer but then it is taking up all the space for actual edible food. When you finally do get around to cooking it the first thing you have to do is remove most of it to get at the bits that are marginally more edible.
Seriously, fuck kale. Chuck the whole lot in the green bin and you’ll be saving yourself an awful lot of effort. Go buy some broccoli or cabbage or bok choy or any actual edible green instead.
But suppose you have decided not to throw all the kale in the bin. I don’t know why you would do this when supermarkets are full of actual bloody food. Maybe, like me, you’ve been trapped into purchasing it and your Irish famine mentality is preventing you throwing it in the fire or the sea or Mount Doom or wherever is handiest. I’m not judging you; I’m just reminding you that ordering delivery from KFC, or walking out the door and never coming back is an option. You could also just let the four year old set the place on fire. Dinners out, guilt-free, for MONTHS that way.
Maybe you feel you should try it or you really shouldn’t waste food. In that case, there’s a recipe for kale that I strongly recommend. Hahahahahah nope, just kidding, I would never recommend a recipe with kale as a star ingredient. But in the name of using it up, here is one that will do so and also eliminate any sweet potato hanging around your cupboards taking up the space for perfectly good regular potatoes or better yet, vodka, which is basically fermented potato salad and therefore doubly good for you. Mmm. Probiotic salad in a glass. With a bag of cheese and onion crisps.
I feel I have managed to waffle enough so here is the recipe for a kale and sweet potato curry. Finally. Basically everything in this can be substituted apart from the sweet potato because that is all you can actually taste. A core component of most of the recipes I saw for kale had sweet potato in them, probably because they are one of the only things that can drown out the taste of kale.
Ugh, fucking kale curry
- Some oil, coconut if you have it
- An onion
- Some grated ginger
- Minced garlic
- Curry paste (red would be best, or you could order a curry and eat that instead, just saying)
- A sweet potato
- Can of coconut milk or cream
- Some turmeric
- Ugh-loads of fucking chopped kale
- Some protein-y thing; I used red lentils (soak first). Chickpeas, beans or cashew nuts would probably also be nice.
- Lemon juice
Heat the oil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and pepper. Let the onions get a bit translucent.
Add the curry paste, give it a minute to heat up and get fragrant.
Add the sweet potato, stir in well, and cook for a bit minutes more.
Add the coconut milk, turmeric, and a pinch of salt and stir. Add water to just about cover the sweet potato and bring to a simmer.
Once simmering, add the protein-y thing.
Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften the potato.
Once the potatoes are softened, add the kale and lemon juice, and cover. Cook for at least 5 mins, or you can sod off and leave alone in a slow-cooker if you like. I went off for a few hours. The sweet potato etc will break down to mush but the kale DOES NOT GO AWAY because it can’t take a bloody hint already.
- Serve, salted, with rice/quinoa and the hope that the health and smugness benefits of actually using up your kale will make the dish taste better.
To really get into the whole cooking-bloggery thing, I did intend to take some photos. Unfortunately I only rememberred at the end when the resulting curry was complete and looked like it had been ingested, digested and then barfed back up into the pot. It tasted pretty reasonable, in the end, for all that it looked pre-eaten. You can’t really mess up a red curry too much. Not even with kale.
So, eat and enjoy! Or just set the kale on fire and go to the pub. I know what I will be doing.