Monday, April 14, 2008

Kale 'n Eggs

Last night, as the just-returned-from-Mexico Michelle and Tata and Jamey and Melanie and I sat in the balcony of the Roseland watching the lovely if slightly nuts Cat Power slink across the stage in her skinny jeans, crooning her beautiful songs to a largely hypnotized audience (except for the guy in the back row who looked like Napoleon Dynamite--that guy was doing a full-blown microbrew-induced Slither & Lurch--which I thought was MY patented dance move), I leaned over and told Michelle that this week I was going to recommit to one of my long-forgotten (as they almost always are) New Year's Resolutions, Be Less Fat!. Smoothies! Scads of Vegetables! Lean Protein! A Strictly Enforced Ban on Dark Chocolate! With a little self-discipline, I would be able to buy a pair of skinny jeans like Cat Power's by Sunday. Michelle's response to my admirable revelation was to burp on me, which was phenomenally disgusting and sometimes I can't even believe we are sisters. "I wish you would have STAYED in Mexico FOREVER!" I yelled, but she wasn't listening, she was too busy interestedly watching Cat Power and her skinny jeans hiding behind a stage pillar, which Cat Power inexplicably did a few times over the course of the night. Like I said, slightly nuts.

My new motto for the week (Be Less Fat!) echoed in my head when I awoke this cold faux-Spring morning, and even though I really wanted to make chocolate chip and Nutella crepes, instead, I dutifully opened the crisper and pulled out the kale I bought at Farmer's Market Saturday. Fantastically dark green, I could practically see the anti-oxidants oozing from its leaves and stalk, and I swear the swirling patterns in its curly leaves formed the image of a pair of skinny jeans that looked just like Cat Power's! I felt hopeful, and inspired. Maybe THIS time, I could keep my New Year's Resolution (Be Less Fat!) for more than 12 hours!

Here is a nice little recipe I devised this morning so that you, like me, can saute some super healthy kale for breakfast, instead of making chocolate chip and Nutella crepes LIKE YOU REALLY WANT TO.


A bunch of kale from Portland Farmer's Market
1/4 tsp salt (or more if you LOVE SALT)
A smattering of either a)red chili pepper flakes or b)ground cumin. this morning I chose red chili pepper flakes because although I love cumin, I sometimes feel that it smells of underarms, and I'm just not in the mood for that this morning.
A half a lemon
Shavings of parmesan
Olive oil

Pour the olive oil in the pan, and heat it on high for a moment, while you frantically chop your kale into ribbons before your hot oil gets too frisky and starts to splatter all over your laptop because you should have chopped the kale up before you turned the gas on.

Saute the kale until it's cooked down to a tenderness that suits you.

Sprinkle it with salt and some sort of aromatic spice, preferably one that does not smell of underarms if, like me, you're just not in the mood for that this morning. Spray it with the juice of a half a lemon.

Mound it on a plate, and shave parmesan over it with a vegetable peeler.

Now you would think I'd be done here. But no, one cannot survive on kale alone. I needed some eggs too. If you read the blog, you might recall that I cannot poach eggs. Up until this point in my life, I'd simply resigned myself to the fact and enjoyed Eggs Benedict and Salad Lyonnaise (the two predominant reasons to poach eggs, I think) whilst dining out. But for some reason, today I decided I must conquer the poaching of an egg.

I needed help, so I pulled out my kitchen bible, The Joy of Cooking.

I love The Joy of Cooking. Even though the recipes can be tedious, it always has the answer to my kitchen questions, and often the authors, Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, employ very creative language when supplying their explanations and instructions, such as "swirl the water into a mad vortex." Let me explain.

I turn to page 221, in the "Egg Dishes" chapter, to the "Poached Eggs" section.

"Grease the bottom of a 6- to 8-inch pot," it says. So I rub some butter on the bottom of my favorite saucepot.

"Put in enough slightly salted water to fill to twice the depth of an egg," it says. Okay. Easy enough.

"While the water is coming to a boil, break into a small bowl: 1 egg," it reads. I break my egg into a small bowl, but the water is barely burbling yet, so I go listen to some Cat Power songs on her myspace page. She is so skinny! And a little crazy!

Now here is what I mean about Irma and Marion adding a little red chili pepper flakes and cumin to their cooking diction.

"Swirl the water into a mad vortex with a wooden spoon."

Swirl my water into a mad vortex! This egg-poaching business is beginning to get fun! I swirl away, creating mad vortexes galore with my trusty wooden spoon from Ikea! (Only 39 cents!) I am not very good at creating mad vortexes, it turns out, and soon salty boiling water is all over the kitchen, but I'm sure it's killing foodborne pathogens so I'm not concerned. The laptop begins to wail softly, so I move it to high ground. It is likely recalling the unfortunate roasted root vegetable incident I think, in which it was liberally coated with a fine spray of olive oil. It is still very shiny, but quite functional.

"Drop the egg into the well formed in the center of the pot," command Irma and Marion. "The swirling water should round the egg." I do, and it does, and I watch anxiously as my egg plunges beneath the swirling, murky mad vortex and immediately begins to put off thin white streamers. My heart sinks. This is the point at which in the past, my poached eggs have somehow simply dissolved. Irma and Marion don't mention this possibility.

"Reduce the heat," says Irma and Marion, so I turn the gas down and continue to watch my hapless egg do somersaults in the gently boiling water. The mad vortex subsides slightly as I turn the heat down.

The steam clears and to my GREAT SURPRISE, floating serenely in the foggy, white tendril-strewn pot, is what looks to be a beautiful, firm, plump poached egg! I am so astonished, I drop my 39-cent Ikea wooden spoon right on the ground, where it is immediately swarmed by the angry foodborne pathogens whose family members were slaughtered by my renegade mad vortex water. I quickly pick it up and toss it in the sink, to be scoured at a later date, such as June 9. I hate doing dishes!

"Simmer 4 to 5 minutes. By this time the white should be firm and the yolk soft." They are! This is some sort of faux-Spring miracle! "Remove with a skimmer and drain well."

I gently place my perfect poached egg in a bowl so it can rest while I poach another one. More mad vortexes! Another gorgeous poached egg! I have been liberated from the oppressive yolk (haha) of an Egg-Poaching Deficiency!

I blissfully crown my sauteed kale with these two jewel-like poached eggs, and sprinkle them lightly with freshly ground pepper.

I am so happy, I do not even care if I can fit into skinny jeans like Cat Power by Sunday. I have poached an egg. Two eggs, actually. I deserve something incredible for this accomplishment. Like a dish-washing lemur. But since that would be cruel, I decide I will settle for some chocolate chip and Nutella crepes. To be continued...



  1. Sis-

    I cannot believe you didn't know how to poach an egg! Skinny jeans are ugly!!


  2. Table for 12 recommendation: The reviews are awesome and a colleague recommended the set menu option. Cheers! G

  3. We thought the term "mad vortex" was so funny we turned it into a blog! I love Irma Rombauer's writing!