Week 12 – The One With Free Food

The Guy I Married: What do you want for Mother’s Day?
Me: To catch up on my blog.
TGIM: And how can I help with that?
Me: Watch Squirrel.
TGIM: OK. (pause) Wait, for how long?
Me: (briskly walking away) Sorry, can’t hear you.

Freecycle is a beautiful thing for someone with hoarding tendencies and constant craft ideas, but absolutely no desire to go dumpster diving. After a fresh coat of paint, some bleach wipes, or a good scrubbing, pretty much anything can be new again, and the price is definitely right. The short list of things in my home I have procured via Freecycle includes: numerous Squirrel accoutrements, specifically her dresser, a ton of play clothes and shoes, and her much-loved Johnny Jump Up; a collection of various wooden frames that I will eventually paint and display; sample-size jugs of latex paint in four different colors; countless glass and clear plastic containers for storing crafting goodies and household whatnots; 11 boxes of vintage patterns; and some swiss chard from a backyard gardener who had an over-abundance. It’s that last Freecycle treasure that helped me accomplish my Pinventure on week 12…

Baked Kale Chips by smittenkitchen, click through for the Pin and the link

I had been wanting to make some kale chips for a while now, because transforming things that are very good for you into what looks like something that’s very bad for you is the key to getting things eaten in my household. I was certain The Guy I Married wouldn’t dare try them, but Squirrel would. Kid loves cooked spinach anyway, and kale chips seemed to be an easy way for her to give herself some greens utensil-free.

When I chanced upon the free swiss chard, I checked that the two were close enough in composition and flavor that I could make swiss chard chips instead. Thanks to Google for the confirmation!

swiss chard, not from Target

The recipe is simple enough: bunches of swiss chard, coarsely torn into chip-sized pieces, olive oil, and sea salt to taste. I used a combo of garlic salt and lemon pepper just for fun.

After you rip you dip (in the oil) and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with your seasoning, pop in the oven at 300°F for 15-20, and once they’ve browned they’re ready to go. For these veggies, brown is a good thing.

chard chips! nom.

That’s it, and it was easy! A little time consuming ripping the leaves apart, but easy. These were crispy but they were nothing like a chip – much too thin – and they were just a tad too greasy. You can see from the shine in the photos that I do need to work on my oil dip technique. For the batch I made I used maybe 15 of those big honkin’ leaves and filled four 9×13 cookie sheets. What Squirrel and I didn’t eat that day filled two lunchmeat-sized plastic containers and lasted another two days.

As for the rest of my free swiss chard, it was with us for almost two weeks and went into pasta sauces, green smoothies, and enchiladas before it was eventually fed to our compost bin. Not bad for something that cost me exactly zero dinero and was home grown to boot.

Moral of the Tutorial – Everything tastes better when it’s free, even if you use too much olive oil.

Another week down, just a few more to go! Thanks for reading!

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