Yes, this is a post.
No, I haven’t written anything since the beginning of 2016.
Why? Because posting pictures with smart-ass one-liner captions are SO MUCH EASIER than actually stringing 700 coherent, semi-related words together (especially when said words are glued together with two hours of glaze-eyed blank stares at the computer screen in a vain attempt to assemble them).
In retrospect, it’s amazing I was able to cobble a column together on a weekly basis back in River Falls. Was most of it alcohol-infused garbage? Absolutely. But they had impeccable grammar and punctuation, and most of them were either mildly humorous or cheekily-inflammatory. Hell, the President of the United States can’t even pull off that feat in 140 CHARACTERS.
But if Guns ‘n Roses can stage a miraculous comeback tour, so can I. Here’s a brief recap: I am now middle-aged, living in my suburban utopia with my wife and two children. I seriously consider going to bed at 9 pm virtually every night. Whenever I exercise for more than 30 minutes, my left knee feels like jellied cranberries for four days. I complain incessantly about millennials and other people who don’t know how to use a wrench. I wear ear protection when I cut the grass.
I also cook a lot, and take a distorted amount of pride and joy in doing so. I force it upon the people around me, like an empty-nest mother who has all of her children coming home for the holidays. I take well-lit pictures of my creations, and force it upon the Internet and your Facebook feed. I revel in the fact that I’m probably better at it than most of you. In some (many) ways, cooking has replaced writing as my humblebrag – my aspirations of Gonzo Journalism have been traded in for good extra-virgin olive oil and a go-to homemade brownie recipe.
Which brings us to our recipe: on the surface, kale, much like me, seems super-lame and not worthy of your time (after all, you don’t win friends with salad). But, if the kitchen has taught me only one thing, it’s that ANY vegetable can be saved with the right amount of bacon and garlic.
Additionally, it’s super-easy. It took, like, literally 12 minutes to come together. Side note: I hate (HATE) when people use “like” as a verbal pause, and the word “literally” has infested our lexicon like nothing else this side of “ironic”. I used to love “literally”; now, like Fredo Corleone, it’s dead to me. But I digress – here’s a “salad” recipe, mostly made of things that are good for you, covered with just enough of the things that are bad for you to be delicious.
All of the vegetables in this dish came from our CSA, which I only mention because it seems like the sort of unintentionally-douchey statement a good cook needs to make. Here’s to the first leg of the reunion tour. Hashtag blessed.
Kale. Bacon. Almonds. Other Shit.
Serves 2 as a main dish; 4 as a side dish
3 strips of good bacon
2 bunches of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely diced white onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 small carrots, shredded
1/4 cup salted almonds, roughly chopped
3 tbsp shredded Parmesan (use more if you want to)
Freshly-ground black pepper
Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Set aside, and chop into 1/2″ pieces when it’s not so hot that it burns the ever-living shit out of your fingers. Reserve 1 tbsp of the bacon grease in the pan and keep that pan on the stove.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, let the almonds cook. Really doesn’t matter how long; few minutes maybe? I don’t know. Let’s say 6 minutes.
In the reserved bacon grease, saute the onion over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the kale and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender-crisp. Don’t overcook it; nobody likes mushy vegetables. If you want mushy vegetables, eat a can of peas. Just saying. Add the carrots and cook 1 additional minute.
Add the almonds to the kale mix, add Parmesan and pepper, and toss. Serve in a bowl that’s ethereal enough to show people you appreciate hand-crafted artisan craft work, but fancy enough to show people you’re way better with money than they are.