Pretty Purple Kale

purple cabbage pantry diaries

These Purple Kale plants are beautiful and they certainly do brighten the long Midwest winters. They are practically the only thing with color left by mid winter.
But I certainly did hope that they were also edible. It turns out that they are and they are also quite nutritious.
I found a few recipes to utilize this pretty veggie. It’s inexpensive and is as beautiful in the plate as around it.

Braised Tuscan Kale

4 bunches kale, stems removed
Salt as needed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ white onion thinly sliced
½ rosemary sprig
1 dried small red chile
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
¼ cup chicken stock or water

1. Coarsely chop the kale leaves and blanch them in boiling salted water, about 3 minutes, then drain.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and add the onion, rosemary and chile. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. When the onion is translucent and starting to color, 3 to 5 minutes, add the kale.

3. Cook the kale over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often. The kale will turn a deep, almost black color, become soft and then almost a little crisp. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If the greens get too dry during the cooking, stir in a little stock or water.

4. Spoon into a serving bowl and serve.

Bean and Kale Soup

1/2 lb. dried Great Northern beans
Water as needed
Olive oil as needed
1 onion, chopped
2 small carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 cup shredded kale (1 small bunch)
1 boiling potato, diced
2 cup chopped Swiss chard bunch (1 small bunch
1 large tomato, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place beans in large saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Let stand at room temperature overnight.

2. Drain beans and return to saucepan. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 1 hour 30 minutes, reserving liquid. Transfer half of beans to food processor or blender and puree. Reserve remaining whole beans.

3. Heat 1/4 cup oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute 5 minutes. Stir in kale, potato, pureed beans and enough reserved bean cooking liquid and water to make 6 cups. Heat over medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

4. Add chard, tomato, garlic, rosemary, parsley, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until chard is tender and flavors are well blended, at least 1 hour, adding additional bean liquid if soup is too thick. (Soup should be quite thick.)

5. Stir in reserved whole beans and simmer until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. (Can be cooled and refrigerated overnight.) Ladle into heated soup bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Top each bowl of soup with spoonful of olive oil, if desired.


Carrot Cake and Company

carrot cake pd nice

The cold winds are blowing and coffee and carrot cake is the only remedy.
This tastes best after a long walk in the chill autumn air.
It’s so cozy and yummy and feels like Fall to me.
I added a little yogurt and butter to make it extra moist and have been enjoying this all week.


1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
½ cup raisins

Cream cheese frosting

1 package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
enough milk to soften


Heat oven to 350 fahrenheit
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Mix sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. Beat for 1 minute
Stir in remaining ingredients except carrots, nuts and raisins.
Beat 1 minute then stir in remaining ingredients

Bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Frost with cream cheese frosting if you’d like


Reaching Your Potential

new wine pantry diaries

I don’t know about you but I like to feel as though I am on the cutting edge; “edgy”.
I don’t know how realistic that is living in the Midwest, I mean, no matter how new it is here it is surely falling out of favor already in the trendy parts of the world. In any case I have decided that it is all relative. If it’s new to me, it’s new. And if nobody I know knows about it yet, well then, now I’m edgy!

Now, for a town of no more than 18,000 people we have, within a half mile radius, 4 wine stores. This does not count the extensive wine selections at the small chain and boutique grocery stores within the same distance.

I feel that the proprietors and sommeliers in my town are on top of things and there is always a wine tasting going on somewhere. Wine distributors and suppliers frequently seem to be coming back from a trip to Napa, Argentina, or the Veuve Clicquot Champagne house in France.

So, here I am at one of my favorite stores looking for a Malbec; a wine which I enjoy greatly which is from Argentina, something I “discovered” about 2 years ago, and I get a hot tip from the wine guy that Carmenere is the new one to watch. It is a revival of an old varietal that is very much like a Malbec and similar to the popular Merlot grape.

Like the Malbec, Carmenere was popular in France in the mid 1800’s and was used to produce the Bordeaux blend. The finicky Carmenere grape took too long to ripen and fell out of favor with winemakers. The grape found its way to Chile and is making a comeback after being mistaken for Merlot for decades. Vintners are sorting through their vines and rediscovering the Carmenere.

It is nice to have new choices and to enjoy a bit of history. Although, not everyone is enthusiastic about the Carmenere and consider it at most to be no more than a good table wine, that’s ok with me. I like knowing that I am enjoying the craftsmanship of those who have given special time and attention to coax the best out of a long forgotten fussy little grape.

I am planning to hang in with this grape, which much like me needs a lot of sun and a little extra time to develop to its fullest potential.


Mad for Mad Men

madmen pantry diaries

I just had to Mad Men Myself at Mad Men Yourself . I am crazy for Don Draper and I love it that now we have a picture together!

There are so many things to love about Mad Men. From the snappy dialogue to the beautiful set designs it’s easy to forgive a little sexual harassment and a mid morning martini buzz.

The show has rekindled an interest in cocktails of the bygone era along with nostalgia for steaks fried in butter and T.V. dinners. Remember Salisbury Steaks, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Cordon Bleu? It’s all making a comback along with pigs in blanket and Rumaki.

Remember a time when cocktails were office supplies and cigarettes were a fashion accessory.

I am looking forward to exploring some of these recipes and the lifestyle that swirls aound the swell 60’s.


Savoring the Last Days of Summer

watermelon vodka cocktail

This is what happens when you get an unusually hot and muggy day at the end of a Midwest summer, you have a large watermelon on your kitchen counter, mint in your garden, and an almost full bottle of vodka in the freezer:

Accidental Watermelon and Vodka Fruit cocktails!


Chop enough watermelon to fill a Martini glass
add 1 shot of Vodka
squeeze lime to taste
garnish with mint
grab the nearest spoon and dig in!


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