Sunday, November 2, 2014

“Beyond the Kale” by Jennifer Mook-Sang

For ages, kale was used as landscape decoration. Every fall, the dark green leaves, brightened to rose and crimson, would magically appear in the neighbours’ flower borders, borne up on thick stalks to reign over the waning annuals and fading grass as Thanksgiving rolled around. Who knew that the tough, thick leaves would someday be a side dish for the turkey?

These days, every family friendly magazine and newspaper health columnist is lecturing us about kale. It’s chock full of vitamins, minerals and fibre – such wonderful roughage – so good for your colon health (you can tell just by rubbing the stuff between your fingers).

And there are so many ways to prepare kale that there’s no excuse not to eat the stuff by the compostable, recyclable tote-bagful. You can consume it raw, shredded like coleslaw with a chopped apple, drenched in a beautiful blueberry-maple vinaigrette.

Or you can simply sauté some chopped kale with a little onion and a lot of garlic in olive oil – delectable, they say.

Braise it in a bit of vegetable stock till it’s molten and silky and serve it with your sesame and sodium-reduced black bean-sauced tofu.

If you’re short for time, drop it in the blender with an organic carrot and a bit of spa-sourced natural spring water – breakfast to go!

The foodies and keepers-of-colon-health have discovered that, after adorning the garden bed for so long, kale could morph into something even more novel and beautiful. But there must be other perfectly good uses for kale that don’t involve ingesting the sharp, tough, hard-to-swallow shards.

For those of you whose colons don’t need any extra help, I offer my top 10 list of thing to do with kale:

  1. Use shredded kale to pack your fragile gifts for shipping. No more insurance needed to protect against careless postal workers or anyone gone postal.
  1. Since kale lasts forever, use it as stuffing to keep your winter boots in shape while packed away for the season, and to absorb any lingering scents. Cost effective and plentiful, kale can easily be replaced when it begins to soften and mold.
  1. Kale is cooling. Use it to line your pillowcase or insoles to keep comfortable in the heat of summer or during those nighttime fire and brimstone moments that are endured by women over the age of 50.
For games of hide and go seek,
kale can make a good hiding place
  1. In a similar vein, single kale leaves are inexpensive fans for use on the porch while waiting for your mint julep to arrive.
  1. Use the leaves as microwave lids, keeping in moisture while keeping splatters at bay. 
  1. Kale leaves come in various convenient sizes. Larger ones, tied with a bit of raffia for chic, make shady hats for gardening.
  1. Imagine kale as quilt. Sew up a few armloads of colourful leaves into a warm, attractive coverlet for yourself or a friend.
  1. Be prepared for compliments at your next dinner party. Kale leaves make durable, food-friendly, compostable plates. And if your guests are still peckish after the meal, they can eat the dishes.
  1. With minimal effort and a glue gun, kale makes excellent car protection in those crowded supermarket parking lots. Just adhere to the parts most prone to bumps and scratches and never worry about expensive shop repairs again.
  1. Dry kale leaves by leaving in the sun for a few days. Turn often (best done by hand) and chase off any hungry colon-conscious animals or birds. Cut finely, this will result in an excellent litter, which your cat will appreciate for its environmentally friendly origins.
But I’m sure you can think of more uses for kale than these. Why, with a bit of imagination and a lot of marketing, you too could have your own super-cooling-fabric-padding business in no time at all. And any of these, in my humble opinion, would be far preferable to having to eat it.

Jennifer Mook-Sang lives and writes (while chuckling to herself) in Burlington. She abstains from smoking, imbibes in moderation and, on occasion, will ingest kale –  if there's no convenient place to hide it while her host's back is turned. Jennifer's middle grade novel, Speechless, will be published by Scholastic in 2015

Note: Anne Shone, Senior Editor at Scholastic will be one of the three speakers at the From the Horse's Mouth seminar on Saturday, Nov 29. See here.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


  1. Laugh out loud funny, Jennifer! Loved this.

  2. I like the hair shorter...............

  3. Hey shock I bought a Kale drink for Alex from Fortinos. He drank it to be cool & tough. Loves it now. Only veggie he eats. Now it mixed with pineapple so bet that helped. Congrats Madame Published.

  4. I thought you really liked Kale, really !

  5. Yeah kale has become a popular health Vegetable in recent years. Mostly it has been used in Green drink and smoothies. It’s great to know that a famous side dish has also been prepared with kale in Turkey. I will definitely try making this dish!!


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