Kale & Fennel

Funny story. I live in a very small community, really a country residential area, but some people refer to it as a ‘town’. Not true. We love the lifestyle here. Neighbors are close, and so is nature!

One of the drawbacks to small town living is the lack of amenities….(or so I’m told).  I don’t really notice the lack, having grown up in a farming community, but I am aware that this life is not the ideal in everyone’s eyes. I have lived in large urban centres, but this is my preferred lifestyle….not sure it is my husband’s, but that is a whole other blog topic!!  We are fortunate here to have some small businesses, one is my hair salon. Yesterday was my ‘hair day’ so off I went to see the local stylist. As I was entering, a neighbor lady arrived. Of course I know her, which is one of the perks to small town living! We all know each other! She came bearing fresh produce…..and a LOT of fresh produce. She had received a huge donation for our little food bank, and not all was used. What do you do with extra produce? Give it away!!

Now, I ask you, when is the last time you went to the hair salon, and came home with a huge bag of fresh kale and some fresh fennel bulbs??? I can honestly say this is a first for me! Now I must decide what to do with this. First thought: kale chips! I have never made kale chips but I have an amazing sister who does all things natural, and she inspires me to try different recipes. Following that inspiration, and armed with Google, I found a few recipes for kale chips…..and today, I am munching on these ‘full of goodness’ tasty morsels!

I gain inspiration from my other sisters, (I have 5) all for different reasons. Last fall we held a family reunion, and everyone brought something for the meal preparation. One of my sisters brought with her a recipe for potato kale soup, also something I had never made, and it was delicious!

Fennel is one of those herbs that few use, or like. I love it. I first tried the fresh flesh of the fennel bulb on a trip to Germany, where our friend served it at the breakfast meal. Loved the licoricey taste, and the crunch of goodness. Receiving these bulbs yesterday was a pleasure!

A few facts: fresh kale is chucked full of Vitamins C, A & K. It also has good amounts of the B’s and is a keeper of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese! Cooking it reduces these slightly, but the benefits are still there. Do you need more evidence to try this vegetable?? It easily grows in the gardens of cooler climates, and can be direct sown or can be purchased as bedding plants. Try it this summer. Tip: it makes an awesome centerpiece in containers!!

Fennel is not as generous in nutritional content, but does have a Vitamin C, with traces of others, and a few of the trace minerals. Personally, I chew on fennel for the taste, knowing it is healthy, fibrous, and not a junk food! This one you will need to purchase though. Our season here is a tad short.

Baked Kale Chips:

Kale leaves, washed and dried. Cut off stems, and thick spines, as they will remain soggy after baking. Toss with olive oil, layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 12 minutes (or so) at 350.

Potato Kale Sausage Soup:

1 lb hot sausage meat, 1 large onion diced. Brown sausage, remove fat, add onion and saute until no pink remains in meat.

Add 5  to 6 cups water, and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add 1 pkg frozen kale or large bundle fresh, chopped kale, and 4-5 chopped (diced) potatoes. Add fresh or dried basil, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer all for 1/2 hour. Add 1-2 cups low fat cream (or milk), heat and serve. Sprinkle on Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Fresh Kale and fennel
Kale chips and fennel ready to eat!

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