Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kale: where to find it and when in Ramstein-Miesenbach

Yes, this is a picture of obsession: kale obsession, but it tastes so good!

Vegetable store visited:
Paradies Garten Donauer
Spesbacherstrasse 61b, Ramstein-Miesenbach

Helpful hint: in German, kale might also be called Grünkohl, Braunkohl, Krauskohl, Lippische Palme, or Oldenburger Palme.

I was (re)introduced to the wonders of kale last year. Usually, Americans only see a bit of kale used as a garnish on a platter of food; a piece of food is placed on it and no one ever eats the kale. I've tried eating a raw kale leaf and didn't like the taste of it. However, cook or bake the kale and it's like magic! The very first time I met kale was in a pasta dish at my favorite Italian restaurant, Salvatore Scallopini; here's a link to a recipe that's pretty close to their dish. Last year, I read about kale chips and gave them a try. I'm now hooked!

The problem was moving to Germany; I looked for kale at the grocery store, at vegetable stands, and even asked at the farmers' market but didn't find any. I was really disappointed but I let the issue drop. Imagine my delight and surprise when I was reading an article on Germany Ja! about self-service flower fields (which I also wrote about earlier this summer) and noticed that the author included a picture of her bike and in the bike basket was kale! I was so obsessed that I enlarged the picture to see the name of the vegetable and flower market in the picture and looked it up. I was in luck because the market is in Ramstein and I planned to go there this weekend anyway.

I stopped by today and asked if they had kale. The clerk answered yes and took me with her across the street to pick out some kale, which she cut fresh from the field. I was so thrilled that I bought two huge bunches of it - $13 worth!

An elderly gentleman in line said something and smiled. I had no idea what he said, but I smiled and said back in German "it is good" and pointed to the kale. I told the store clerks how to make kale chips and how good they are. They relayed it in German back to the guy.

I mentioned that I had such a hard time finding kale. The clerk said it's because Germans eat it in winter. I said, "but it grows now" and she said that it's better after a frost (which I did read online and confirmed it; it helps produce more sugars in the kale). She told the elderly guy, in German, that Americans like to eat kale in the summer and they exchanged a bemused look. I thought that was funny because she had said other Americans had come by to look for kale also; some are using it in juicing. That also made me smile because my crunchy hippie homies must've stopped by and all the weird Americans have been giving the Germans quite a show! We eat kale in weird ways and we eat it at the "wrong" time. Either way, it tastes darn good! :)


Here is my Kale Chip recipe:

Sea salt or other good salt/spice rubs
Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Wash the kale very thoroughly, especially paying attention to the area around the ribs of the kale. You might even find aphid eggs on it. Wash them off. I like to soak my kale in a mix of warm water and vinegar in a sanitized sink to help clean it.
2. Thoroughly shake the water off the kale and dry it. If you are patient and want a better chip experience, I recommend letting it dry for quite some time. If you're impatient like I am, then dry it as well as you can but realize that your chips might not be as crisp.
3. Toss the kale with some olive oil and salt, taking care to lightly coat it.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes; turn the kale over and cook another 10 minutes or so until the kale is the desired crispness.

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