Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some Things Do In Fact Need To Cook Forever

I'm really into kale these days.

I told you about that delicious and life-changing meal that my friend Laura made, steak and greens.  It completely turned things around for me.  I'd heard a lot of buzz about kale and how awesome it is for you, and i aspired to be able to eat it, but i just couldn't.  Then Laura showed me the way.

This is my eating lifestyle: once a week i make a huge pot of really nutritious soup.  Then I live off of it for several days.  It's perfect for the days i work, when i get home late and am STARVING.  I'm like Esau, i would gladly sell my birthright for a hot meal.  But you don't want to eat something heavy when it's late and you'll be going right to bed, so soup is perfect.

For the past few weeks now, i have included leafy greens in my life-soup.  It sounds like I'm trying to sell you something, but I'm telling you the truth in that i can tell a difference in my health.  I just feel better.  Also, i generally have a lot of digestive issues.  The main problem is that i'm lactose intolerant, but non-compliant.  I frequently cheat and eat dairy, and boy do i pay for it afterwards.  It's weird though, sometimes i have tummy trouble even when i didn't eat dairy.  Since i've been eating leafy greens, my GI tract has felt awesome!

The recipe for Steak and Greens says to simmer for 45 minutes.  At first i thought, "Oh come on, is that really necessary?"  I simmered it for 30 minutes and the greens were tough, so i submitted and gave it the full 45 minutes.  It's a Paula Deen recipe.  She's a Southern cook, and the reason i was suspicious is because Southerners cook the heck out of everything.  I know this from personal experience.  My Granny (hi Granny!) cooks her green beans until they are 5 seconds away from disintegrating.  If she cooked them any longer, they would turn to dust right there in the pot.  One year at Thanksgiving, Granny had cooked her green beans for a couple of hours at home before coming over to our house.  Then she cooked them some more.  When her back was turned, my Daddy would turn the stove off.  Granny would notice several minutes later and think, "What in the world?  Why are the beans off?"  and would turn them back on.  This went on a few times, off-on, off-on.  It was pretty funny.  Finally Granny got worked up and exclaimed, "What is going on here?!?"  and Daddy confessed. 

My friend Molly is a major foodie, and an awesome cook.  She and I have had many a discussion about overcooked vegetables.  When you are cooking something like broccoli or green beans, they turn a beautiful bright green.  Most people keep cooking them past that point, and their color turns dark and dull.  Molly and i prefer veggies in that bright green stage.

After i had already eaten several batches of kale, i read that you have to steam it in order to obtain all the nutrients.  If you boil it, it loses the anti-cancer properties.  Well that was disappointing, here i was thinking i was being so healthy when in fact i wasn't getting all the nutrients i thought.  So this week i steamed the kale separately from the rest of my soup.  When it was ready to eat, i spooned the greens into my bowl and served the soup on top of it.

Turns out, Granny's method is better in certain circumstances (i said *certain* circumstances).  I never thought i would say it, but the kale was more palatable when it was cooked forever.  As much as i loved the bright green color of steaming, it was too chewy.  Nevertheless, i will stubbornly proceed with the steaming.  Why would you eat something like kale if you aren't going to get tons of health benefits?

Another interesting thing i found out is that kale is a Northern green.  My Grandmother told me this.  She grew up in the South, eating things like collard greens and turnip greens, but never kale.  I decided that i'm going to stay true to my heritage and switch to collard greens.  Fortunately, kale and collard greens are siblings, so they have the same nutrients.  I know that you are supposed to eat locally sourced produce as part of a green lifestyle, but i'm going to eat collards anyway.  It's not like i'm demanding fresh lychees or bok choy.  And who knows?  Maybe collard greens taste good steamed.

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