Sunday, January 27, 2013

Grand Canyon Provisions

My two Friends-For-Life, sisters Wendy and Cricket, hike in the Grand Canyon every year. Sometimes they go twice a year. They go by themselves with nothing but 20+ years of experience and fifty-pound packs on their backs to find the adventure, serenity and beauty that only the Canyon seems to give them.

In between hikes, they love reveling in all that equipment; the packs, the tents, the cookstoves, the hiking boots. They love researching and evaluating all this gear, deciding finally on the very best stuff regardless of price. They know their lives may depend on each piece of equipment they take with them. On one of their trips, they shared their tent with a young man who had hiked into the canyon without proper gear for rain and cold - he might actually have perished if he hadn't had them to bail him out.

Everything they carry down there, from butt wipes to paperback books to mattresses no thicker than a yoga mat, must be brought back out, so they have become obsessive about the weight of everything they take. They bake biscotti and dehydrate foods for the trip. They weigh the value of a full tube of toothpaste vs. saving a few ounces. Because they go for two weeks at a time, the weight of every item really matters.

So, when I made kale chips for the first time last week (the last food blogger in the world to do so), I immediately thought of Wendy and Cricket. Nothing could be lighter than kale chips, and they would provide much-needed greens to their diet, plus the bonus of salt to replenish that lost through sweating. They do a lot of sweating down there.

I made mine with lacinato kale, that darkly green, wrinkly kind that looks like it came off the hide of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. In fact, I made two kinds, one with sea salt and one with garlic salt; both were inhaled. My Beloved and I enjoyed them very much so I served them to a guest and she liked them, too. 

Making kale chips is a little time consuming, as you must use your fingers to spread the olive oil evenly all over the chips, but once you get the feel of it, you don't really even have to look at the work - you can tell just by texture if every little pocket and cranny has found its coating of oil.  Then lightly sprinkle with salt, or flavored salts, and into the oven for a few minutes.  The leaves emerge even darker green and crisp, lighter than a feather.

Another important tip is to be sure you have thoroughly dried the leaves before oiling, or they won't crisp up as well and likely won't keep as well, either. They are very crumbly; I put mine gently into a dish and put the dish into a plastic bag to keep them crisp - Cricket and Wendy will have the enjoyable task of researching the perfect container for their kale chips, one that protects them but doesn't add much to the weight of their packs.

Recipes for kale chips are so ubiquitous over the interwebs that I won't print one here. Just Google "kale chips" and stand back. 


Blogger Greg said...

Good for them! My idea of camping out is staying at the Motel 6. Uncle Sam provided me with a lifetime of camping out. My experience with kale chips was meh.May be some lightweight pork rinds as a sub? ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2013  
Blogger katiez said...

You are not the last person - I have never made kale chips - and am not likely too as I don't have kale LOL
They sound good, tho... And I am duly impressed by your friends... and a little envious!

Monday, January 28, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

I had kale chips at a party last year and now they are a stand by in my pantry. They aren't always as crips as I would like. I get impatient but your's sound like masterpieces of the chip world. Or would that be species?

Monday, January 28, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, like you, I have probably done all the camping I'm likely to do. The pork rinds are a good idea!

Katiez, yes, I have always wanted to go with them but you have to be in seriously good shape for such an adventure.

Nancy, not sure how to characterize them. They are good but I probably would purchase any in the future - it's a fair amount of fiddly work to make them oneself.

Monday, January 28, 2013  

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