This is my Gram.
She was a total fox, right?
She was full of snap and sparkle. She had a sharp tongue and quick wit. She lived a wild life before leaving this world at the ripe age of 91. In her younger years, she smooched plenty of cute boys, danced until dawn with a young Merv Griffin, Aaron Spelling, and Errol Flynn in San Francisco during WWII. She survived a near fatal car accident that resulted in a broken back, and a million other crazy things that would amaze you. In her later years, Gram kicked a life-long addiction to alcohol, became the belle of her church singles group when she was in her 70’s after my grandfather passed away, and loved riding on the back of her church friends’ motorcycles in her leather Harley vest and boots. She was a complicated, outspoken, generous and amazing lady. I loved Gram then, and I love her still, brambles and all.
Gram was a devoted veggie lover. I’ve actually never seen anyone eat more vegetables without juicing them. She ate a big salad for lunch every single day, and always ate salad at dinner, too. And then she ate more veggies on the side. She obsessed over vegetables, and salads in particular. I’m certain her consumption of vegetables will be remembered for decades to come.
A few years ago, I found myself preparing a meal for most of my extended family for a small reception after Gram’s memorial service. And since salad was her very favorite food group, I had to honor her, right?
Since 90% of the prep had to be done the night before, I needed to find something that could withstand overnight storage. I needed to pull it out of the fridge and get it on the table in 10 minutes. It also had to be something that I could eat and that my family would want to eat. (Sometimes, we don’t always like the same things. Shocking, I know.)
Kale definitely fit the bill. I knew that my mom would really like it, since she is my Gram’s daughter. I knew my brother would probably try it, even though he really dislikes kale, just because he trusts my cooking. I also have a previous track record of helping him overcome aversions to certain foods, like brussels sprouts. My dad is ridiculously easy to please. My cousin and his wife are mostly vegetarian, and are fairly food-adventurous. As for the rest of the family, they would either try it to be nice, or discreetly move on to the chicken salad and veggie tray.
But all those reasons aside, I knew Gram would love this dish and enjoy every bite. I hummed her favorite 40’s songs while I prepped, and smiled when I served it in her favorite wooden salad bowl.
2 bunches of kale, de-stemmed and cut into ribbons
2 cruncy apples, sliced into little quarter-moon pieces (I prefer honey crisp or pink lady)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened blueberries or currants
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp (heaping) stone ground mustard
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp basalmic vinegar
1/2 small lemon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
black pepper to taste
- In a VERY LARGE BOWL, place your prepared kale, apples, mustard, vinegars, mustard and lemon juice then mix well.
- Add dried blueberries, pine nuts and nutmeg
- Mix everything together using your hands and gently squeeze until kale starts to reduce slightly in volume.
- Taste it. What does it need? Pepper? More nutmeg? More baslamic vinegar? Add it.
- Transfer to a sealed container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Making food that connects me to the people I love long after they’ve passed is a way for me to actively keep who they were to me alive and tangible, even through a dish as simple as a salad. The power of food is incredible. Thank you for letting me share it with you.
Veggie Lover for Life,