|Making kraut and kale salad|
This time of year, it can be a challenge for many in Michigan to be able to make a local salad. I'm blessed to live in Ann Arbor, where we have one of the best farmer's markets around. It's a year round market and it's a producers-only market, which means that all of our wonderful items are grown, baked or crafted by the vendors who sell them. It used to be only a few of the farmers had hoop houses to be able to grow produce in the winter time...I can remember having to be at the market no later than 7 am just to be able to get a bag of Shannon Brines greens to make a local salad in the depths of winter. But now, thanks largely to a great group of people involved Four Season Farm Development Program, we have a lot more vendors that can provide salad fixings at the market, which is great!
I am a huge fan of sauerkraut, and in October, I made a big batch out of 2 giant heads of cabbage that I bought at the market from Todosciuk Farms which is just up the road (28 miles) from me in Howell. I fermented that cabbage myself, which is one of the easiest pickling projects ever. It's a good pickling project for the cold weather. We ate most of it at Thanksgiving, made the traditional Polish way and my brother and sister love kraut, too. My immediate family hasn't yet found the kraut love, so I am always on the lookout for other kraut recipes. Wild fermented kraut is loaded with "probiotics" that are great for your digestive health, and so when I heard about a kraut salad that is popular in Poland that uses uncooked kraut as a starting point, I was interested in adapting that idea for a recipe in my kitchen. Enter kraut and kale salad. Eager for more ways to include kale in my diet, as inspired by my friend Diana Dyer who is a huge kale fan - she writes a blog called 365daysofkale and sports an "Eat More Kale" bumper sticker on her car, I decided to add some raw kale to the salad that I got from Goetz Farm in Riga (55 miles), along with their tasty sweet hoophouse carrots. I think hoop house carrots taste sweeter than the ones grown in the summer. Also, there's onion from Tantre Farm in Chelsea (20 miles).
Making raw kale taste good can be a challenge, because it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, but I find destemming it and cutting the leaves in ribbons into a "chiffonade" style works well for a salad. When kale is mixed with wild fermented kraut, which has a natural, mild tangy taste that is different than vinegar, I find that it cancels out any of the bitterness of the kale, leaving the sweet taste. Carrots provide some more sweetness, and then the flavor is rounded out with grated onion and lots of fresh ground pepper. I find I can grate the carrots and onion and rinse off the box grater faster than hauling out the food processor. I save the food processor for big jobs
Kraut and Kale Salad
2 c. sauerkraut, undrained
1 c. kale, stemmed and sliced thin
1 c. grated carrots
1 onion, grated
1/4 c. olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Mix together - tastes better the next day
This recipe tastes better as it ages, so I made a big bowl that I plan on eating every day for lunch at work this week. After all, there's still more Christmas cookies and candy to be eaten and another potluck scheduled for Friday. That's when the last of us that are working until the bitter end of the work year gather together to feast in a conference room and wait for this guy that works somewhere in our building shows up in a kilt playing his bagpipe. He never says a word, he just comes by and plays Christmas carols on the bagpipes and leaves, unannounced. Now one knows who is is - we have over 2000 people in our building alone, so we don't know everyone. Every year I try to memorize his face so I can recognize him dressed in a shirt and tie or polo shirt in the hallway, as an engineer or project manager, but I never seem to see him except dressed in his kilt.
Once the bagpiper plays, we call it a day and a fitting end of another work year, because most people in automotive business have the time off between Christmas and New Years Day. We'll be thankful for a great year in a tough business and to spend some well deserved time with family and friends. The year ain't over until the bagpiper plays!