How to Cook Kalettes

Out of all the vegetables I never thought I would appreciate – the Brussel sprout is number one. Television taught me that this vegetable was discusting. Maybe that has to do with a generation of cooks that boiled them to death, so that not only did it taste like death, but made the entire house smell like death. It wasn’t eating one that turned me off to them as I had no memories whatsoever of even trying one (or maybe it was so bad, my mind blocked it out). Kale is another vegetable on this list, mainly because of my lack of knowledge of it’s existence for most of my life. So I could borrow a DeLoren from Doc Brown and travel back to meet my younger self and tell him that a day will come when I (or you) will be geedy with excitement for a vegetable that is combination of kale and Brussel sprouts, my younger self would be completely confused. Trust me, my present and future self will always be excited whenever Kalettes are on the table for dinner.

How to Cook Kalettes

What is a Kalette?

A Kalette is a trademarked name for a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. It is used by multiple growers/shippers including 4Earth Farms, Classic Salads, Mann packing, Ocean Mist farms (the ones I recently bought), Southern Specialties, and WP Raw. I have heard them called Kale sprouts, which is the term I most often use. I also heard lollipop kale or flower sprouts in the UK. They grow just like Brussels sprouts – on a stalk. Instead of producing tight little green balls, the plant produces open leaves that look just like baby kale.

How to Cook Kalettes

What Does a Kalette taste like?

It has the tenderness you expect from a Brussel sprout yet with the flavor of kale without being too bitter. Kalettes are are sweet and nutty. If you like either of these vegetables, then this is a must try for you.

Are Kalettes GMO?

They were created through cross-breeding. They were not genetically engineered in a laboratory, by doing something with the DNA of the plant. The majority of plants that people consider GMO are created to resist the application of a pesticide. Kalettes were created through traditional breeding methods where you take one plant, cross it with another until you get the results you are looking for.

How to Cook Kalettes

How to Cook Kalettes

I have been cooking these for a couple years now. My favorite method has been a simple sautee. Heat some oil in the bottom of a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the Kalettes. Cook until softened. You can add a little water to the bottom of the pan and cover them to help steam them a bit to make them more tender. Pull before their color starts to turn duller. They should be firm, but not crunchy. It only takes 5-8 minutes to cook them this way. I like to add a squirt of lemon juice at the end (would be best with Meyer lemons or the new Lemonade lemon). You can sautee them with some fresh garlic and freshly cracked black pepper as well. Roasting them is another great option – this method will bring out the sweetness of the vegetable. Roast them at 450 degrees until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle them with oil and season with salt and pepper. They really don’t need a lot of seasoning to be good.

You may find them in a microwavable bag. I really don’t like this method though. You can’t caramelize them in a microwave. It is the quickest way to do it. Your better off having the patience to use one of the methods I mentioned above. The microwave option would be for lunch break at work when you only have a microwave and want to make your co-workers jealous that you are eating the latest in vegetables.

How to Cook Kalettes

Where to Find Kalettes

Good news everyone! Kalettes are becoming more and more popular. I have them at Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s (as Kale Sprouts), Meijer, and the Andersons market. Where have you found them? Leave a comment below telling us where you buy Kalettes or Kale Sprouts.

The Lemonade Lemon

in Fruit & Vegetables

Lemonade Lemon Fruit

I like many, love a good cup of lemonade – freshly squeezed lemons of course. The tartness and flavor of the lemon, mixed with some sugar ad water, simple and comforting. At times I thought wouldn’t it be nice if we could peel and eat a lemon just like an orange. Enjoy that same flavor without the added sugar. When I learned about the miracle berry, which changes what you eat from sour to sweet – I thought there was my chance to eat a lemon. You can even buy the berry now in tablet form. That is until I discovered there was such a thing as lemon, sweet enough to eat on it’s own. Who needs to pay $25 for 10 tablets, when I can just buy this lemon. Only problem was now I had to actually find this lemon. It took a year, but finally, last month I found my first ever “lemonade lemon” at Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Lemonade Lemon Fruit

What is the Lemonade Lemon?
The lemonade lemon also called simply the lemonade fruit or some call it the “Unlemon” lemon is a cross between a lemon and a Navel orange or a mandarin. I found websites saying one, and some saying the other. I feel like it’s with a mandarin just because of the way the skin feels and that you can peel like a mandarin, although I think slicing them into wedges is more effective. The Lemonade lemon originated in Australia, but has made it’s way to the United States. It is now being grown by Ripe to You, a marketing name for Rising C Ranches located in the rich San Joaquin Valley of central California. They are one of my absolutely favorite citrus growers. They have introduced me to so many varieties of citrus – Heirloom Navels, Variegated pink lemons, Shasta Gold mandarins, Yukon Gold mandarins, Tahoe Gold mandarins, etc. I love all the variety they sell and the quality is top of the line for the industry. I feel confident when I see one of their sticks on a piece of fruit that I am going to get the very best. The Lemonade lemon is no exception.

My Thoughts on the Fruit
I asked them over a year ago about the lemon. My concern was there were going to be like sweet limes, which a yellow lime variety that has no acidity and is really bland yet somehow refreshing. I was reassured that these lemons were not like that. I had no problem just biting into my first slice, knowing that I wasn’t going to experience lip puckering or remarkable blandness. And sure enough I easily could eat them. Tastes like lemonade. Still tart but with enough sweetness to make them palpable. They do contains seeds but the seeds are pretty easy to manage and they are too numerous. I found some segments to have membranes that were a bit tough, which I why I recommend slicing into wedge and sucking out the juice.

Uses for the Lemonade Lemon
You can enjoy them right out of your hand. It’s fun to have at a get together, see which of your guests willingly to try them out and not think you are trying to pull a fast one on them – like giving them unsweetened chocolate. They have many great uses as well. I have used them to keep apples from browning. What I like is because they had sweetness in them, they don’t cause the apples to have a sour taste to them. Also works for keeping guacamole greener, with again not having to add too much sour taste. For leftover guac, squeeze the juice on top without mixing it, cover, and refrigerate. Mix it in when you are ready to serve. Of course you can try making lemonade with them with way less sugar. I haven’t tried yet, but I can imagine how good it would be on top of some fish! Don’t forget to use the zest too.

Season for Lemonade Lemons
In the US, except them to be available starting in January, and lastly through the winter months. They are a newer commercial crop, so they probably will be hard to come by. If they catch on, except to see more. Whole Foods is the first place I saw them. I heard they have been available at farmer’s markets in California. Check any store wherever you see Ripe to You citrus. Ask the store’s produce manager or buyer. If they don’t know, you can get them into the know, maybe even direct them to this blog post (cheap plug!)

How to Cook Boneless Top Loin Pork Chops from Costco

in Cuts of Pork

Costco Boneless Pork Top Loin Chops

I just recently got my first ever Costco membership in part so that I could write more about the popular warehouse store. This month I took a trip there with my oldest daughter. After enjoying a snack of a hot dog and a churro, I walked around the store looking for inspiration as well as some great deals. Then I came upon this sign:

Costco Pork Sale Sign

Save $3 off a package of top loin pork chops sound pretty good to me considered the chops started at $2.79/lb.

Costco Boneless Pork Top Loin Chops

That coupon brought my package down to $10.31 or $2.16/lb. Not bad at all. I picked out the smallest package they had. Often time when something is sold by the pound I end up picking the cheapest choice to help with portion control and to save a little bit of money.

How to Cook Boneless Top Loin Pork Chops from Costco
The first thing to know is that they pork chops are on the lean side. This is because pigs are a lot leaner now then they were fifty years ago (check out this article to learn more about how pigs have gotten leaner). While that might be better for our health, the problem is lean meat tends to dry out real fast without the extra fat. That is why your best bet is to brine. Not only does this flavor the meat, it also leads to more moist meat as long as you don’t overcook it.

Costco Boneless Pork Top Loin Chops

How to Brine
Most important ingredient to a brine is salt – I always use kosher salt for this. Allowing the pork to soak in a salty solution will add flavor to the inside of meat, where as just salting on the surface, only salts the surface of the meat. Your solution must taste salty but it won’t make the meat too salty. For liquid, you can use just water or chicken or vegetable stock. The stock will add more flavor than just water. If you don’t have any on hand or do want to spend the extra money to buy some or time to make your own, you can still have good results with just water. I like to add some whole peppercorns, brown sugar, and whatever other herbs and spices I have on hand to add flavor.

To make the brine, you need to dissolve the salt. Heat up your brine in a pot until the salt is dissolve and add some ice to it or allow it to completely cool before adding to your pork. I like to do this in a gallon sized plastic bag. Poor the liquid in and seal it up. I place in in another container in case the bag leaks. Place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, no more than 4. Remove and pat dry when you are ready to cook.

Breaded Panko Ramen Pork Chops

How to Cook Them
Two methods that I like is to either bread them or grill them. I have a recipe which I will be sharing soon for breaded pork chops with a Panko/Ramen noodle breading. Super crispy! You can check out this recipe from the blog “An Italian In My Kitchen” for Italian Breaded Pork Chops. Or if you want a good a laugh, you can check out one of my very early posts with a recipe for breaded pork chops. While the post and picture are pretty bad, just learning the ropes at that time, the recipe will still give you a tasty meal.

Now onto the grill option. You can grill them outside on the grill or inside on a nice cast iron grill pan (I like the one Lodge makes). Check out my recipe for Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops.

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops

What if I Don’t Want to Brine
If you don’t want to brine your pork chops then I would recommend using them in a slow cooker application or something with a nice gravy. You can still try to use the methods I mentioned above, but it’s so easy for the pork to dry out that I wouldn’t do it. One of my favorite “wet” pork recipes is Tyler Florence’s Smothered Pork Chops. These chops are served with a buttermilk gravy that has a bit of spice to it. This recipe has a special place in my heart as I cooked it for my grandma at her house the last time I saw her alive. This was just when I was beginning to really learn how to cook.

What Store Brands are Recalled Dole Salads

in FAQ

Store Brand Recalled Salads ALDI Kroger Walmart

I am sure by now most of you have heard about the big Dole salad recall due to an outbreak of Listeria (see the official CDC report). One person has reported died while 12 more have gotten sick as far as what has been recorded. What you might not realize is that this recall goes beyond just what says “Dole” on the packaging. There are store brands that are actually processed by Dole, which you might never know by just looking at the package. For example, the salads Whole Foods says under their “365” or “Whole Foods Market” label are actually most Earthbound salads or in some cases Organic Girl. I have witnessed Trader Joe brand salads come out of an Earthbound box. This is why you need to pay attention to the entire list, even if what is in your fridge doesn’t say Dole.

What Store Brands are Recalled Dole Salads
First when looking at any package see if it was produced at the Dole processing plant in Springfield, Ohio. The manufacturing code will begin with the letter “A” (most likely located underneath the date). I would toss out anything that says it’s from Springfield, Ohio. The brand name also effected besides the Dole name include (this list is accurate to the best of my knowledge, if you are in doubt, throw it out):

Fresh Selections
Simple Truth
Marketside
The Little Salad Bar
President’s Choice Organics

So what stores carry these brands?

Kroger (carries Fresh Selections and Simple Truth)
Walmart (carries Marketside)
ALDI (carries the Little Salad Bar brand)

Check your fridge if you have purchased any packaged salads from these stores. These store don’t produce these brands themselves, they are done for them by Dole, so this isn’t a reason to blame the stores themselves or be concerned about other products they sell. You can still shop there (although these 3 stores are probably where I spend the least amount of my grocery dollars, but that’s me!)

Various Spartan stores carries Spartan Fresh Selections, but I am not sure if that is the same as the Kroger one. Again look for the Springfield, Ohio processing plant listed on the package or that letter “A” for the manufacturing code.

President’s Choice Organics is a Canadian brand available at various stores in Canada.

How Worried Should You Be?
It’s unfortunate that these things happen. And they make big news when they do. Still not to take anything lightly the odds of you getting sick eating something you bought into the grocery store are much lower than the odds of being injured in a car accident on the way to the grocery store. So I don’t think there is a reason to be super paranoid. Whenever I see a recall like this, if I have any product (never buy Dole salad myself) then I will throw it out. I can understand if people are scared. No one wants to get sick from salad or anything else they bought at a store. When we buy that food we trust that it will be safe for us. I still believe nearly all of the time it is. These cases happen from time to time, but only make up a small portion of all the things that are sold in stores across the country every single day. If you still uneasy I understand. It’s another reason for growing your own food. For peace of mind, you watched it grow, you harvested it, you were a part of the entire process from seed to harvest. Salad greens are easy to grow in the milder weather of spring and fall. Or look into a good local source where you can even visit their farm and see for yourself. Without piece of mind it makes it hard to eat a piece of anything. Do what you need to get that.

Nothing is 100% safe, but I don’t believe we have to live in fear.

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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