So, Sarah, how did you spend your Friday night? Did you do something wild and crazy like the rest of the young, cool kids in their mid-twenties?
Well, actually, I spent Friday night reading.
I read Making Toast in one evening. [Granted, its not really that long...only about 150 pages, but still.] Written by Roger Rosenblatt (who is famous to me in a “I know his name but couldn’t tell you anything else he’s ever done” kind of way), Making Toast is a series of vignettes and recollections of life following the death of his daughter, as he and his wife move in with their son-in-law and three grandchildren. It is Hemingway-esque in its simplicity, but that restraint allows the beauty of continuing on through daily life despite pain to become an overwhelmingly emotional story. Its captivating.
The title comes from the daily ritual that remains constant through all the upheaval: making breakfast toast. The simple task become imbued with meaning for Rosenblatt, and I definitely empathized with the way that even the most basic food (and specifically the sharing of it) can become such a touchstone, and have healing and connective properties in times of both joy and sadness. [Not that I'm encouraging stress eating, y'all.]
Wow. Sorry for the appearance of “English Major Sarah” this morning. Haven’t seen her for awhile.
Yesterday morning I woke up and my stomach was ANGRY. It was as thought she was screaming at me, “What have you done this week?!?!?! I’m not use to all of this decadent, rich food! It might be delicious, but I’m not accustomed to dealing with it! HELP ME!!!!”
I’m also pretty sure the more-wine-than-usual wasn’t aiding in the matter.
Breakfast, therefore, was pretty much a carton of yogurt, some mango and blueberries that needed to be eaten or they would die tragic deaths in the fridge, and some of my Spelt & Brown Rice (Club) Soda Bread left over from Book Club on Thursday. So boring I didn’t even take a picture.
What’s hiding in my lunch wrap, you ask?
Sauteed spinach, mushrooms, a diced up marinated artichoke heart, chopped black olives, and shredded Parmesan (which I heated for melting purposes after this photograph was taken). [That is a Damascus Bakeries' Oatmeal Roll-Up by the way.]
This wrap just proved that my inspiration for recipes and food combination really can come from anywhere. After having been told that Giovanni’s Pizza was the best in Austin, I naturally had investigated the menu. [It is apparently in a gas station? Not that there is anything wrong with that. Y'all know how I felt about Bellair Market in Charlottesville.] One of the pizzas on the menu is called the 4 Seasons Pizza, which has black olives, spinach, artichokes, and mushrooms. Um…YUM. I typed the combo on an e-Post-It, and then yesterday realized I had all of those in my fridge.
Giovanni’s is on to something (not that I’ve tried the actual pizza), because this combo was incredible. I added some green grapes and sliced peppers on the side. Perfect!
For dinner, I decided to test out these Yves Veggine Cuisine, Veggie Sausage, that, although said to be Zesty Italian flavor on the label, was noted as being a “veggie brat” on the store price marker.
Having Wisconsin blood running through my veins, I do love a good brat, and I wondered how something Italian could also be German…and without pork no less. [I also had been having random sausage cravings lately, not sure why. I was about to buy some tempeh and saw these on sale. Figuring out cost-savings, it seemed like the appropriate time to "buy and try."]
Interestingly enough, they tasted neither like Italian sausage, nor like a German brat, but much more like Mexican chorizo than anything else. Go figure.
I simply reheated the sausage in a skillet (it was pre-cooked), and added a side of roasted sweet potato chunks, which looked super dried out on the outside, but were PERFECT on the inside….
I also cooked up something I’d always wanted to try: Kale Chips! (Kale was on sale. And that rhymes.)
To make, obtain a bunch of kale. [And I mean a bunch in terms of an actual "bunched" bunch. Not just as an arbitrary amount, like "a handful" or "a sprinkling."]
Rinse/wash the kale and dry it really well. If there is excess water on it, the leaves won’t crisp as well, and instead will steam and say soft. [I did have this problem with some of mine because I can get lazy in the drying process.]
Rip off the leaves from the stalks. They will most likely naturally become “bite-sized,” but tear them further if you must.
Put those on a baking sheet.
I would recommend a rimmed one so you don’t lose pieces over the side and accidentally cause a lot of smoke to erupt out of the oven resulting in fear of setting off the fire alarm. Not that that happened to me.
Spray the kale with cooking spray, and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg. (I love nutmeg on my greens.) Really, you can use any spices you like.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until crispy and shrunken.
Honestly, these were good, but whoever makes claims that they are “just like chips” or “you’ll never miss chips again!” is lying to you. You’d have to douse these things in an unhealthy amount of salt to recreate that experience, and by then any benefits you might have had from eating kale instead of fried potatoes would be overshadowed by your increasingly high blood pressure due to sodium overdose.
I mean, I liked them. I ate a lot of them. But I’m just saying…
[Note: The kale chips did not hold their crisp overnight. I might have done something wrong in storage or preparation, or maybe that is just what is supposed to happen. Either way, try to eat them as soon as you make them!]