Right now, Ankur is on a 10-day trip to India, and I am staying with Kishmish and Pista to brave the end of summer, the start of their 1st grade year, and — oh! — the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Which, I totally had forgotten, had to be commemorated on the second day of school. Which means they had to be taught about it at school. I was caught off guard, having planned to avoid conversations about 9/11 at least for a few more months.
In a way, I have it easy: I can talk about 9/11 with them in terms of my own experience, and leave the politics out of the description for now. I can’t stand simplifying, much less oversimplifying, and this is problematic when it comes to explaining, well, everything to 5-year-olds. Since I was working in Chinatown and living in Brooklyn on 9/11/01, I saw the attacks, witnessed the collapse of both buildings, and walked home to Brooklyn with my colleagues. It was scary and unexpected, but I learned things. We can kind of leave it there.
At any rate, I was glad when Pista built this bivouac in the play room and suggested we eat dinner there.
Actually, she suggested that she serve dinner out of the side of it (sort of like a food truck?), and we sit on the floor and eat the food. I convinced her to let us all three get in the fort. That seemed a fitting and media-less way to bond and share a meal on this anniversary that means basically nothing to the two of them. Plus, I got to use the word “bivouac” and remember this scene from Flight of the Conchords, my favorite show ever:
Meals are always fun when Ankur is out of town, or just planning to get home late. First up, he rarely does either of those things, and eating dinner together is important to us. So dinnertime with just me and the girls is rare and kind of sweet. I play it up big time: “Papa is not here, so we can eat all kinds of things he hates! Isn’t this exciting?” We break out the broccoli, kale, fancy/stinky cheese, and lately — thanks to Ankur’s self-diagnosed bread aversion (just bread, but not red velvet cake?) — the good bread. Sometimes we eat boiled eggs — straight, or in egg salad — or macaroni and cheese. A few squares of super-dark chocolate are a great ending. It’s pretty funny.
Roasted kale is an important part of any sans-Papa dinner because Ankur is totally kale-phobic. Pista and Kishmish, on the other hand, are just picky, and they insist on kale prepared so that it’s crispy like chips, without being burnt. I think there are two important steps: using parchment paper, and spreading out the kale so that the pieces don’t touch each other much while baking.
Other than that, there is no precise chopping or critical measuring involved, so it’s also a great thing to make with kids.
And of course assembling the salads is a good task for a 5-year-old with an eye for such things.
I don’t know. . . maybe food truck proprietor is in someone’s future after all…
Roasted Kale and Avocado Salad
Makes 3 substantial salads.
- 1 bunch of green kale (not lacinato)
- about 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- kalamata olives – as many as you want
- 1 tsp chili powder
- a few crumbles of Stilton (optional)
- a few scoops of egg salad (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a large baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Wash the kale and cut it into large pieces. Remove the really tough parts of the stalks. Toss the kale pieces with the olive oil and salt, then spread on the papered pan. Use more/less oil and salt, to get a taste you like, but remember that the kale will shrink a lot when roasting, and you don’t want it too salty and oily.
Bake the kale in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it! It goes from uncooked to burnt rather fast.
Divide the kale between plates. Place a few slices of avocado on each bed of kale, add some olives, and dust with a bit of chili powder. We all had our salads with some egg salad on the side, and I added some Stilton too.