flowers for breakfast

kale bouquet

The neighbor I mentioned the other day recommended my Scottish kale blooms be chopped off if I wanted the leaves producing longer, so I did. I whacked right off the poor plant genitalia to serve my hunger Monday night. The flowers smelled like honey, the pollen dropping onto the office/dining/kitchen/prep table. 

Before prepping the kale, I measured out some of that Cedar Creek Grist Mill cornmeal, water, and salt into a lidded casserole, using Martha Stewart's baked-polenta recipe, and set it in the oven for 30 minutes. That's right—I wasn't standing at the stove stirring bubbling polenta so it wouldn't stick to the bottom of the pot, it was steaming itself in the oven, simple.

Then I rinsed the kale, composting the bigger stems, chopped them all up, and half-sautéed, half-steamed them for five minutes in a pan with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and ground pepper.* Like broccoli raab, this is kale raab of the same Brassica family. When the polenta was done, I stirred in a couple tablespoons of butter, freshly grated parmesan, dried oregano, and fresh-ground pepper, dished it up, and topped it with a portion of sautéed kale.**

I learned in two years of visiting South Korean markets and family restaurants that more plant parts are edible than most North Americans believe, we who have been conditioned to buy even our raw food prepped and packaged: de-cored and chunked pineapple, "baby" carrots (i.e., mature ones honed down to the core in a kind of vegetable plastic surgery, which isn't that bad since it reduces carrot-growing waste), and triple-washed "spring mix" salad greens. My mother, for example, will de-stem a spinach salad right there with knife and fork on her plate and peel raw pears before eating them. Americans waste so much food after it's cooked but also before. And I'm sure I still discard vegetable parts the older Korean ajummahs would shake their permed or bunned heads at.

kale raab with polenta in Heath***

Many of us are scared of food. I have friends who throw away yogurt days before the expiration date without even tasting or checking for spoilage, "just in case," or chuck a bruised apple or an orange growing a little mold on one side from sitting too long in the fruit basket. Seriously? Just cut that part off, taste a slice nearest the former mold or bruise spot, and if you can't taste mold or fermentation, you're good to go. Really, it's not that hard. Take back control, stop wasting food, and save yourself some money. Think about it while I go heat up some leftover flowers for breakfast. 

*Note: For more cooking ideas for raab, see here.

**Note: I skipped the milk in the polenta recipe.

***Note: The bowl is Heath Ceramics in the Coupe Line, thrifted along with six others at Goodwill a few years ago.

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