AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: The Aphids are Coming, The Aphids are Coming! (Recipe: Kale with Bacon and Cider) DATE: 7/30/2009 09:52:00 AM ----- BODY:
My brother-in-law is a self described "fanatical" Jew. The degree to which he keeps kosher can be mind boggling even to the modern Orthodox.

A few weeks ago when we were together for a family vacation, I watched as he soaked his lettuces in salted water to wash them. As someone who loves salt, I think any way to better season a dish is pure genius (Empire Kosher Chicken is an example of a salt-soak improving the flavor).

When I queried him about this practice, he explained that the salt helps release any bugs that may still be trapped in the leaves. Since bugs are not kosher, he does not want to inadvertently eat them in his salad, lest he break the dietary laws.

The aphids have begun to attack the kale in my garden, and the kale is rapidly disintegrating. Ladybugs supposedly feast on these little critters, but I have yet to get some this season (um, John? Do you still want to share an order?)In the meantime, a salt-soak seems to be the ideal solution until I cure this problem.

And in case you thought I, too, was an observant Jew, I added bacon to this recipe to dispel any confusion. If you do keep kosher (or just don't like pork), turkey bacon, or smoked turkey would be a great substitute.

Kale with Bacon and Cider
1/2 pound kale, washed
1 slice bacon, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. cider vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt. Add kale and cook for three minutes.
2. Drain Kale and cool. Coarsely chop.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add the bacon. Cook over medium heat until the fat begins to render and the edges start to brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking.
4. When garlic is aromatic, stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Drizzle vinegar on top.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Grace DATE:7/30/2009 10:06:00 AM i, too, would appreciate any and all bugs being removed from my greens. i, too, appreciate any and all bacon in any and all dishes. good stuff, julia. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:7/30/2009 10:29:00 PM OMG I am laughing so hard. Keeping kosher is such a commitment, one I am always amazed bt the dedication.

But I don't like bugs either so uh maybe he's got something there. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:7/30/2009 11:47:00 PM Wow. I haven't heard of anyone doing that to keep kosher before. I thought having to hide my chocolate giveaways at the wedding was a bit much.

I always find it interesting how people differ in what they consider to be kosher. Varying from eating pepperoni and cheese on matzo (my friend's version of observing Passover) to washing your greens with salt to get rid of the bugs. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:7/31/2009 07:59:00 AM Grace -- We're speaking the same language! :)

noble pig -- you never know where you might pick up a good cooking tip.

psychgrad -- I also have friends who eat pepperoni and cheese matzah sandwich at Passover. I think it's hysterical. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger adele DATE:7/31/2009 11:48:00 AM Ooh. I regularly combine spinach and bacon, but I never thought to do the same with kale. Good move!

I have fond memories of seeing the matzo cheeseburger in my college dining hall around Passover. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Drewby613 DATE:7/31/2009 05:18:00 PM Julia didn't tell you the rest of my de-bugging system. I like to use a white pan, so that whatever "shakes out" is more visible. At any rate, after soaking the offending vegetable for 10 minutes in the salt water, I shake them gently in the water before removing them. Then I check carefully for critters in the water. If there's nothing there, I proceed to a vigorous rinsing of the veg. If it's something hard to do a visual inspection of (broccoli), I pass it, or in the case of something like romaine, I'll give it a quick visual check, and then consider it ready for use. If it failed the inspection (little leggy things spotted in the water), I rinse vigorously, and resoak in the salt water, check again, until nothing buggy shows up in the water. (I've had to do this a few times, so keep checking 'til all's clear.) People pooh-pooh this bug thing, but just wait until you removed a few from your lettuce. Then think about what you almost served your esteemed guests. . . And if you think I'm a fanatic, sooner or later someone will come along and put a comment up here saying I'm a complete lightweight who never would have been allowed on the bus out of Egypt ;-) ----- --------