Corn and Swiss Chard

There was a stirfry contest between myself, an elderly neighbour, and my three year old Evil Genius. I was losing. Taken down even in my dreams.

My stir fry was watery and being taken over by corn and swiss chard. A watery stir fry is unforgivable, but I won't apologize for the corn and swiss chard. It is a tremendous late summer/early fall confetti combination. Even if it meant that my kid beat me in a cooking contest.

The first time I made this it was with the first corn of the season because I wasn't sure the kids would be up to tackling corn on the cob. I've since been proven wrong, but this is also such a popular dish in the house that we've been having it at least once a week since the corn arrived. Technically, I've been having it twice because any leftovers serve as an excellent bed for poached eggs in the morning.

This has been an excellent dish to take advantage of our CSA chard, garlic, and herbs. When I combine it with some Noble Meadows goat feta and use Mighty Trio Organics Flax Oil instead of Olive Oil it makes a completely Alberta dish.

Corn, Swiss Chard, Feta, and Mint
Serves 4 as a side dish

3 cobs fresh corn (0r 1 cup frozen niblets)
1 bunch swiss chard
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Shuck the corn, being careful to remove the silks. Standing the corn straight up on a cutting board, slice off the kernels. Set aside.

Remove the center rib from the swiss chard. If they are thin or you chop them small, you can use them here. Otherwise, discard or set aside for another use. Roughly chop the leaves.

In a large frying pan with a lid toss the swiss chard with a generous pinch of salt and the water. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, covered. Uncover and add the corn. Toss well. Keep uncovered and cook for another 3-5 minutes until any remaining water is evaporated. Stir frequently. Add the oil and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Place in a serving dish and top with the feta and mint.

More Pyrohy

Pyrohy, I've decided, are a perfect Sunday dinner. The main reason for this is because Sunday morning many of us think to make bacon. Then we are too lazy to do the dishes before the birthday parties and errands so that pan with bacon grease is still sitting on the stove when the pyrohy are ready. And that pan is begging to be reheated and filled with just-boiled pyrohy for dinner. Yeah, Sunday.

Of course, I had to make the pyrohy first. Thankfully today I had company and a really well-timed nap from the girls. Andree and Gwendolyn came over for a little, old fashioned pyrohy bee. Well, really, I got the games started by making the dough then put them to work making pyrohy. And they were stellar for their first time ever!

We stuck with traditional fillings of mashed potato with cheese and bacon, plain mashed potato, and sauerkraut. Potatoes from our CSA and sauerkraut courtesy of my parent's suburban kitchen. I prepped it all this morning. And taking a cue from the lady's at my parent's church - home of a ridiculously large bimonthly pyrohy supper - we scooped and rolled our mashed potatoes ahead of time. Makes for faster and easier folding of the pyrohy.

Andree said that my babbling and instructions was like watching a cooking show. Minus the couch and red wine! I was a little chatty with pyrohy stories, who knew I had so much to say? Of course, that may have more to due with being surrounded by the kids for weeks now with little adult company than my extensive knowledge of pyrohy.

Did I mention the single parenting? That would also be why I needed pyrohy for dinner, with kale on the side, roasted carrots, kubasa, and the cookies both Gwendolyn and Andree brought us (chocolate chip with bacon and shortbread). And now I shall sit on the couch and drink my wine, with or without a cooking show.


Kale chips not potato chips. Let's just get that out of the way. But they are better. But sometimes they are worse, way worse.

An old boss of mine had a heart transplant a little over a year ago. He was sick, very sick, for a young man. For awhile he was attached, and essentially kept alive by an obtrusive, loud, cranky machine. An external pump, if you will, that he carried around behind him like a business traveller and his carry-on through the airport.

Kale is one of the dark green, leafy vegetables that 'they' like to tell us to eat, and eat often. Nothing but good stuff in them. Loads of vitamins, beta-carotene, and even calcium. One of the key vitamins in kale is Vitamin K, very good for blood coagulation.

And blood coagulation is very bad for men with external heart pumps.

But now, with a new heart pumping and no carry-on luggage, those dark green, leafy vegetables are back on his plate. And because potato chips are supposed to be off that same plate I am offering up this recipe.

Kale chips are an addiction in this house; a favourite way to use up the abundance from our CSA. Yes, the girls like them too. Kale chips have a crunch that disintegrates as soon as you bite into them. They do taste green (which is a good thing) but they also carry the taste of the salt and spices you toss them with as soon as they come out of the oven.

So, if you are a salty snacker, try adding kale chips to your bowl. Ridiculously easy to make, fast, and full of real flavour that you control. Snacking at its best. And new heart approved.

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale - purple, green, or lacinato (or a combination
Olive oil
Seasonings (smoked paprika, truffle oil, seasoned salts, cumin, black pepper, chili powder...)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Wash and dry the kale very well. Cut out the stiff rib and cut the leaves into 1-2 inch pieces.
3. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the kale with a light drizzle of olive oil. Go easy on the olive oil to have crisper chips.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Give the kale a gentle toss halfway through.
5. Remove from the oven and toss with a generous sprinkle of salt and seasonings of choice. (Smoked Paprika is our favourite.)

Dirt in my Freezer

It might be the Ukrainian in me, but I am incapable of throwing away good food. And I feel inordinate guilt if I forget about leftovers or a head of lettuce in the fridge. That would also be the Ukrainian in me.

With a really good haul from our CSA this year I've been forced to face these issues head on. It's one thing to throw away grocery store produce that you paid pennies for and was grown and picked by a random stranger in Mexico. It's another thing entirely when you get the lettuce in your hands was placed there by a man with permanent dirt under his fingernails.  The same dirt that still graces your carrots, your onions, your greens.

* Aside - As I read that last paragraph it occurs to me that is just as bad to throw away the grocery store lettuce because there is still a person there with dirt under his fingernails. *

Our farmers, Jon and Andrea are such committed people. We light up when we see them at the market, where we pick up our weekly haul. The girls go running and asking after the horses and roosters, all while ripping greens with their teeth. We shoot the shit about the weather and yuppies and our egg man. And food passes hands.

Then we come home and I am forced to deal all that food. On a day when I'm just so damn tired I really don't feel like finding room in the fridge, grating zucchini, or freezing chard I sometimes leave the bag on the counter for hours, even a day. Then I remember the dirt. The dirt I'm invested in.  The dirt our farmers are invested in.  The dirt this food was grown in. So I sharpen my knives and set too. Far better to have trimmings in the compost pile than real food.

We clean, we store, we cook, we freeze, we eat. And so we will eat for another week, thanks to the phenomenally hard work of Jon, Andrea, their family, and their WOOFers. And in January, I will make another loaf of this zucchini bread, some swiss chard fricos, or a bowl of gingered carrot soup and be thankful for that dirt.

But now? Now I need to head back in the kitchen and make some beet leaf cabbage rolls.