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Lomi Lomi Kale


Chef Amber Michelle

Kale and Onions awaiting spa treatment

Lomi Lomi Kale

Remember when I said Arugula is the new Kale? And then I said Pepper Cress is the new Arugula? Well, now I have come full circle, right back to Kale. Why? Because it has made a resurgence at the Aztec Farmers Market. I got there at 4:45 p.m., and everything was selling out quickly. Didn't I advise you to go early? Townsend Farms had kale and onions and I bought both. Cheryl and Jim Woods farm, Townsend Farms, in addition to Aztec, also sell their produce at Farmington growers market and their own farm stand, where they also resell produce and other items.

I haven't used kale in a while, but I like to buy from each farmer. My favorite is Laccinato kale, but since no one has any available right now, I took what I could get. The kale from Townsend Farms is delicious and nutritious; you just need to know how to prepare it. On this, Cheryl and I agree. Kale often gets a bad rap because of the texture. It's very fibrous, even waxy, and people just aren't used to chewing that much, which by the way, is unfortunate. Kale also takes a little work to extract the flavor and nutrients. Its bio-availability is compromised if eaten raw. In fact many health blogs suggest it's actually harmful to your thyroid production because of its inherent or attracted thallium, a heavy metal that is supposedly detrimental to your health. Personally, I think kale, a member of the Brassica family (like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower), is great for you; you just need to know how to deal with it. When I lived in Hawaii, I learned the art of lomi lomi. It means massage, and is applied to everything from salmon on your table to the manipulation of your body. As a chef, this is how I tenderize nearly any protein and also how I treat kale. Through the art of lomi lomi, you "open and release" just as when you receive a body massage. So, you can "cook" your kale through the Hawaiian method of lomi lomi, using salt as both an abrasive for eliminating the waxy epidermis and releasing any toxicity, by purification (of salt) and manipulation, without compromising nutrients. The fibers are de-natured to make the kale more approachable and enjoyable. It's a wonderful way to infuse your own intention of health by touching and feeling your food. I use Real Salt, an American pink salt from Utah. It's rich with trace minerals. I add a scant amount, because I don't rinse it out. Massage the kale and let it sit for a while. Taste it. If it's too salty, rinse it. I chop it into an Asian-styled slaw, or toss it with Champagne vinegar, fresh cherries, grated carrots and jicama, and those crisp spring onions. Add a dash of walnut oil and you have a healthy, not quite as chewy, salad that wreaks of health. Served atop grilled vegetables and new potatoes, it makes a satisfying vegetarian meal.

Townsend Farms has a lot of kale right now, at Aztec, Farmington, and now, at their own farm stand, two miles north of Aztec on Highway 550. At this point, the farm stand is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the hours are still a little vague but they try to be there by 11:00 a.m. Try it again, give kale another chance. Talk to your farmers. They are rich with information, ideas and recipes. Check out information updates and photos of Townsend Farms on Facebook.

Chef Amber Michelle is a CIA educated chef, cultural explorer, and the cook, cleaner and bottle washer of Holly Ester's Tasty Toffeebread, a wholesale cookie company, and gruvitacos, a seasonal taco trailer, in Navajo Dam.

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