Great story ["Le Kale" by Rebecca Sodergren, Food & Flavor, Feb. 21].
My appreciation for kale started in college. I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to college in Oakland. I worked for years at a Syrian restaurant in Oakland (you may even know it, Ali Baba's) that used kale back in the 1990s for various dishes, the most popular being "sleek," a mixture of kale and black-eyed peas.
Since that time my appreciation for kale has grown, in no small part due to the nutritional and potentially amazing health benefits of the simple, and (used to be) very cheap, green.
I moved to Chicago and in a small city yard there I grew kale for years. It is the easiest thing ever to grow and it starts early and dies late making for a very long season of sleek; kale and bean and chorizo soup; juicing; and raw right out of the garden. (That said, until I read your article, I had no idea it grew so trendy, but it certainly explains the pricing changes I've seen over the years for kale.)
Anyhow, I have ended up here in Malaysia. And to my great surprise, there is no kale here. As you describe in Paris, here they don't know what it is, and there is no name for it. I eventually found "Chinese kale," aka "Chinese broccoli," which is actually not kale but something called kai lan. It is a relative of the broccoli family, with small flowers that look like miniature unformed broccoli florets. Turns out it is actually a kai lan/broccoli cross that we know in the U.S. as broccolini. It took me a while to actually come to the realization that I wasn't just missing kale in this store or that store. I finally met someone working in a produce section here that had spent some time in the States. He enlightened me that no store in Malaysia will have it.
I have often thought about the farmers at the markets here. They all sell the same stuff. I have thought if just one farmer would grow and sell kale at the market, there are enough ex-pats here who would buy it right up.
This all is why your story immediately attracted my attention. The article is not only intriguing, but it also is confirming, and a bit inspiring. I will have to do some more thinking on how to get it going here in Malaysia. I'll have to start with figuring out how to get some seeds -- they don't have them here either!
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thank you, Elizabeth Downer, for your column on the American Wine Society ["Society delivers on wine education" in Tastings, Food & Flavor, March 7]. It became the talk among AWS members such as myself (I'm on the AWS board) at the Eastern Winery Expo in Lancaster. I'm glad you had a great experience with our folks in Pittsburgh. The AWS is fortunate to have such a strong presence there.
This is an exciting time in the AWS. Our national community of wine appreciators experienced double-digit growth over the last two years and have added new chapters at a rate of one every three weeks -- from Springfield, Mass., and Miami, Fla., to Oahu, Hawaii. We continue to expand services to members and local chapters, with plans to expand our Tasting Case Program and a digital database of wine information and presentation materials.
I hope you can join us for our 46th annual conference, within driving distance, in Sandusky, Ohio, Nov. 7 through 9. You will find it one of the best wine events in U.S. and once you attend one, you won't miss another.
I enjoyed your article in today's paper about freezing home-prepared food for later use ["Freezing forecast" by Rebecca Sodergren, Food & Flavor, Feb. 28]. I am so glad the new generation is being exposed to something that I have doing since I was a little girl.
My dad had a vegetable garden and he and my mother would freeze what he grew. My mom was always making more than we needed for dinner and packaging what was left for the freezer.
There was a period of time when my mother, two brothers and I were all working and did not come home until after 6. If we would cook from scratch we would not get out of the kitchen until 8. When you go to bed at 9 that does not give you much of an evening. So my mother and I would cook up our dinners on the weekend and freeze them. So when we got home we would either pop one in the oven or the microwave. Mom would have every available cooking source going on Saturday and by dinner time Saturday we were set. For the longest time we owned an institutional-size freezer.
To this day, with just my brother and I at home, I make enough for the freezer. I start stockpiling for the winter in October. That way if a snow storm hits, I am not running to the store with everyone else. My mother taught me this and it is just part of my nature. When I was a kid and we would all go up to my grandparents' cottage in Erie, my mother would cook ahead of time, stick the food in the freezer stored in milk cartons (this was before milk jugs) and would take up all these milk cartons. It was her vacation, too, so she wasn't about to spend her time cooking. So open a milk carton, pour it out and heat it up. One pot, and dinner is served.
Yep, cooking extra and freezing the leftovers is a great way to eat summer in the winter and to have a backup plan all in one place.
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