painting of kale salad

Kale Salad. 8″ x8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

When I started a blog called “The Kale Chronicles,” I liked the alliteration and I felt like I was perpetually struggling with kale: Riverdog Farm put in my vegetable box frequently and I had found no truly satisfying way to eat it in three years. Then I went to Mabel Dodge Luhan House in New Mexico this November and Jane Garrett served a kale salad. I ate some. Then I went up for seconds. Then I asked for the recipe.

Jane obliged and I have made this salad twice since returning home. Every time I make it, I eat big bowls full of it and I eat it everyday until it is gone. I made it again tonight and just ate a flat soup bowl full of it.

Why do I like it so much? It could be the dressing: Meyer lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, tahini, tamari and a little bit of honey — I might eat that on shoe leather, although I doubt it. I might like it because you blanch the kale before attempting to eat it. I just like it.

I’ll give you Jane’s version as she wrote it and then I’ll explain how and why I altered it.

Jane Garrett’s Kale Salad

Blanch two bunches of kale*.

Add what you like: grated carrots, radishes, dried cherries, almonds, red potatoes, feta, mint.

Toss with the following dressing:

1/2 cup lemon juice with zest

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp tahini

2 Tbsp Braggs’  OR 1 Tbsp tamari

3 cloves garlic (I pressed mine)

1/4 tsp agave OR  1/4 tsp honey

*If you are going to eat kale, you need to remove the stems and ribs. Jane didn’t tell you this because she thinks everyone knows it. So, before you blanch the kale, remove the stems and ribs and compost them.

My alterations: I don’t have any Braggs’, which I believe is Braggs’ amino acid, or some such thing, and I haven’t been inclined to go out and get any. I deduced that it was contributing the salty flavor, so I substituted 1 Tbsp tamari for the 2 Tbsp of Braggs’. I used Meyer lemons because we have them growing in our front yard — they are sweeter and less sharp than Eureka lemons, the ones you usually find in the supermarket. I used 1/4 tsp honey for the agave because, once again, I don’t keep agave in the house — I don’t object to it or its flavor — it’s just not something I have around the house. Lastly, I don’t measure my olive oil: take Jane’s measurement if you want to be precise — I just dress the kale with some olive oil, mix together the other ingredients and toss the salad.

I haven’t been adventuresome in mixing things into this yet because I actually like the taste of the kale smothered in this dressing. I did put in half a handful of dried sour cherries tonight, but I couldn’t really taste them — the dressing is pretty powerful.

What I hope is that this salad helps some of you eat kale who have found it hard to enjoy in other preparations, especially those of you who are at your wits’ end when kale shows up in your farm box (Someone removed a bunch of kale from his box today and set it on top of the stack for someone else to take home!). It works for me.

Now, the award: Jen aka Zestybeandog kindly awarded me The Versatile Blogger Award. This pleases me because 1) Who doesn’t like an award and some recognition 2) Versatility in the kitchen is one of the hallmarks of my cooking style and 3) I get to pass the award on to several other bloggers whose blogs I enjoy. I am also to reveal seven things about myself

1) I love to sing. I sang in school choirs and church choirs. I have one CD, “Paris,” featuring traditional ballads, original songs and covers.

2) I started a ballad-singing group in Berkeley many years ago. It’s still going.

3) Besides painting food subjects I like to paint flowers, song illustrations and occasional landscapes. Animal portraits have been creeping in lately…

4) I used to work as a Recreation Leader in a program that brought together children with disabilities and able-bodied, neurotypical children.

5) I used to be a psychotherapist (MFT)

6) I love open-water swimming and swim in the Berkeley Marina, weather-permitting, from May through October.

7) I sell paintings. Just thought I’d throw that in because I do sell my original watercolors. I am happy to sell them. I am working on developing related products, including cards, trivets, canvas bags, etc. with images from “The Kale Chronicles.” If you want something, please ask.

Where to start? I have just been in the blogosphere for a little over four months, In that time I have come to enjoy the following blogs:

Bitsandbreadcrumbs by Betsy — Betsy cooks stuff I want to cook myself.

Kitchen Inspirations by Eva Taylor. Can’t tell you why exactly — that’s the nature of inspiration — I just like Eva’s blog.

Angry Cherry – the baking blog with personality and many original ideas. She makes things I want to try someday.

JustaSmidgen — lovely photos and some stunning recipes: malted milk meringues anybody? Or pomegranate salad?

From the Bartolini Kitchens — John chronicles his family’s Italian recipes, tells great stories and is one of the kindest people in the blogosphere that I have run across

Lauren is baking her way around the world, making things from every country she can think of. She is particularly honest, which makes her fun to read.

Linda, at Savoring Every Bite makes lovely cheesecakes, attends to decor as much as to food, is generous with her comments and posts a variety of recipes. Pumpkin fans must subscribe to her blog in the fall.

Bewitching Kitchen. Sally has a not-so-secret love of baking bread. In this, we are sisters. She just posted a wonderful-sounding caramelized carrot soup.

SmittenKitchen. This is a big, well-known blog. You may already read it. If you don’t, go there now: Deb has it all: recipes, photos, stories.

As you can see, those are food blogs.

I also read art blogs, or art and food blogs.

The first art and food blog I found was Jane Robinson’s Art Epicurean. Jane paints lovely abstracts and publishes a wide variety of recipes

My latest food and art blog discovery is The Hungry Artist by Melissa. I look forward to seeing more of her work (she just posted some wonderfully-shaped fig cookies on FoodBuzz)

And, somewhere in between, I found Dichotomyof. She makes colorful patchwork cushions, raises children and cooks, too.

For pure art (without food), go to

Bees ATC. Nancy posts a drawing everyday around midnight central time. They are usually colored pencil drawings.

Saltworkstudio: Suzanne has developed quite a following for her abstract acrylic work and collages. She teaches in Sonoma County, but she has gone to Rome for the holidays. I’m sure she’ll have stories to tell when she gets back

And, last, but not least, there is Donna Louise, neither a food nor art blog, but a modern serial by a funny, offbeat writer who shall remain nameless for the time being (at the writer’s request).