As an easily distracted person, I usually have many ‘in-progress’ things on the go which take ages to get finished because other things keep catching my attention. A few weeks ago I moved from Sydney to Melbourne, and I now live in a big old house where there is so much to do. Not in a bad, “obligatory” way at all, just in a new and exciting way. Apart from the distraction of generally having a lot more space to live in, I’m mostly distracted by my garden. Which is why I found myself last weekend at 1:30pm, still in my PJs, out in the garden pulling off dead parts of the passion-fruit vine that covers our white brick garage wall. I believe real gardeners call this “pruning”. While I was doing this, as the skin on my hands was getting more and more cracked and chapped, I suddenly realised that I was pruning with probably an unnaturally high amount fervour and gusto. Equally as much as my dog, Saffy, was intent on testing each branch I pulled down for chewability. And then it occurred to me that I was really, really enjoying myself!
If genes have anything to do with it, I should be a really good gardener. My Nan grows the most amazing, big roses; my Nanna Nina had an amazing nack to grow the biggest, most beautiful cyclamens I’ve ever seen in her tiny flat; and it’s impossible for anyone visiting my Mum and Dad’s place to not comment on how amazing and flourishing Mum’s courtyard garden is. While I always loved playing in the garden with my little brother, I never had much of an interest in actual gardening growing up. My first real memory of gardening was when I was in primary school. After my weekly piano lessons I would wait in the front garden of my piano teacher’s house, and I would pick out the weeds and pile them into little weed clumps until Mum arrived to pick me up. Bit weird? I guess so! But I continued this habit week after week until Brownies distracted me and I stopped piano lessons. During high school I developed a nasty bout of contact dermatitis on my finger-tips which was particularly aggravated by dust and dirt, so gardening was out for me. And it wasn’t until I found myself living in a 3rd floor apartment with a small balcony with a pretty constant salty ocean breeze, that I started wishing I had a garden.
Now that I’m more mindful of where my food comes from, and in particular, trying to minimise the distance it needs to travel to get to me, I can’t wait to start my own proper vege patch in the My Little Vege Patch Co crate in my front garden, so I can (try to!) grow the veges I use regularly – in particular, kale, which often makes it to my plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner. (If you’re interested to find out more about just how good kale is, there’s a great article here.)
Here’s my version of kale chips, which I developed to combat a handful of really bland kale chips recipes I’ve tried. Hopefully once my vege patch come to life I’ll be able to post some “home grown” vege recipes, (and also come summer perhaps a home grown passion-fruit souffle recipe…).
- 1/2 bunch of kale (I find Tuscan / Cavalo nero works best for chips as they’re more robust than the curly/red kale) – inner ribs removed and torn up into large-ish pieces (they will shrink a little in the oven)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp tahini
- 1 Tbsp parmesan – grated very finely (if you’re no diary/vegan, then substitute this for nutritional yeast)
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Preheat low oven to 90° C.
- Combine lime juice, oil, tahini, parmesan/yeast, chilli flakes and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine well.
- Tip the kale into the mixing bowl and massage all the leaves with your finger tips until each is well-coated in the mixture
- Line a baking tray with baking paper
- Transfer the kale into the baking tray in a single layer (I usually need to do a few batches/trays)
- Place them in the oven and start checking at half an hour. Depending on your oven it may take up to an hour. You’ll know they’re ready once they are all crispy and dry.
These will store in airtight jars / containers / tins for up to a month.