I came late to the kale game. I've always cooked collard greens, and over the years I've cooked and enjoyed turnip greens and mustard greens. I've been growing collard and mustard greens for years in our garden in Saint-Aignan. Now I'm growing two kinds of kale.
It started in North Carolina a few years ago, when I saw a big bag of curly kale leaves for sale in the Piggly Wiggly supermarket in Beaufort. The price: 50 cents. I thought it was time I tried it. I cooked it the way I usually cook collard greens — long and slow, with some bacon or salt pork and a good pinch (or more) of hot red pepper flakes. I also add some white wine, and I like to cook greens in chicken broth too.
I thought it was good and I grew some curly kale here in France over the 2013-2014 winter. The plants were pretty, but they couldn't compare to the red Russian kale I'm growing this summer. Besides, the curly kale leaves collect a lot of dirt, grit, and bugs, and it's a lot of trouble to wash them thoroughly.
The Red Russian or Siberian variety you see here has smooth, delicate leaves and, despite its name, it doesn't seem to need Siberian weather in order to thrive. I got the seeds in North Carolina last spring, and I hope I can find more of them when I go back the next time. I have to get out there and cut some more leaves this week. It's good blanched and then sautéed with garlic or onion.
I haven't yet tried adding some of the youngest, tenderest leaves to salads, but I will do so. I read on a web site this morning that kale is more beneficial health-wise after the leaves have been steamed than it is eaten raw. So that's also a plan. Above is a photo of the back yard and jardin potager, where we also have Swiss chard and Tuscan kale growing, seen from out at the end of the path yesterday morning.
When I opened the back gate to go out walking with Callie the collie, a big gray heron lifted off out of the pond, where it must have been feeding, or at least getting a drink. I snapped a photo as quickly as I could. When such a big bird suddenly takes to flight so close to you, it's startling. I've seen this one at least twice over the past week.