Kale Chips Sans Tediousness

Kale chips are addictive. I’ll take them any day over regular chips. In fact, during our juice fast, I craved the light crunch of them over any other crappy-for-you crunchy food, which was at the time, for me, really weird. But they’re kind of a pain in the ass, too.


The problem with kale chips is three-fold:

  1. They’re a hassle to make. If you’re using large kale leaves, you have to individually slice out the thick center stem, because baking that with the leaf causes uneven bakeage (get on that word, Webster!). That stem also holds a lot of moisture, so the steam from it keeps the chips from crisping up as quickly. 
  2. Store-bought is ex-pen-sive! And not nearly as delicious. In fact, I think most of them taste pretty gross. They come in all these weird flavors and some of them have weird additives and flavor powders that just don’t improve on the basics: EVOO (or ghee, butter, or other healthy oil), salt, maybe a ‘lil garlic powder or lemon zest.
  3. They are gone in a flash. I can easily down a full head of kale in chip-form in a single sitting. So after all that work, by the time you’re ready to sit down and chow on it you get a snack that’s all but picked away by your husband who can’t keep his hands off the stuff (coming soon: Kale Chip Eau de Toilette … by Debbie).

Solving this problem took a little experimentation, and the end result was what I deem a great success: Easy peasy homemade kale chips. Here’s the how-to, but do keep in mind that you could very well tweak this and end up with an even better result (that you should then share here in this open-source kitchen lab webspace):

STEP 1: Get the right kind of kale. Unless you want to “de-vein” each leaf by hand, you’ll want to use baby kale. Costco sells big ‘ol bags of organic baby kale that are perfect here. Other than that you’ll need salt, and a healthy oil (Avocado, EVOO, or ghee give great flavor).


STEP 2: Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Find your biggest mixing bowl and fill that baby with baby kale. Add about 1 TBSP of oil for every four cups of kale (not packed). Make sure your hands are clean and go ahead and mix it all up. Hands are far more effective than a spatula here. Once the oil is evenly distributed on the leaves …


STEP 3: Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pile the kale about 3-4 inches high and evenly onto the tray. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of that, and with a same-size baking sheet, press it down, making a baking sheet/parchment paper kale sandwich. Mmmmmm! Resist the urge to bite into it.


You can actually pile on more than this!

STEP 4: Grab your weights! It’s time to work out. Just kidding. It’s time to pile oven-safe heavy things atop your top baking sheet. I used a large cake pan and filled that with stacked glass pie plates. When you place that in the oven, it will perma-squash that kale, giving you flat, sturdier kale chips.

STEP 5: Bake it, sandwiched and weighted-down, for 20 minutes.

STEP 6: Remove everything from the oven, taking care not to burn yourself or your counters on any of the hot “weights.” Remove the top layer of parchment and salt lightly. Turn the oven down to 350.


STEP 7: With a pizza cutter or large, non-serrated knife, slice your kale chips into the size and shape you desire.


STEP 8: Place the tray back into the oven for 10-20 minutes. No top-parchment, tray, or weights this time! We need to bake off the steam and let the center-chips crisp. Time varies depending on how thickly you layered the kale, so check out readiness after 10 minutes and go from there.

The kale chips are ready when they are stiff and crisp but not brown, and can be easily lifted off the parchment without bending. Take them off the hot tray (you can actually just move the parchment to a cleared counter space) and let them cool for a few.


Such an easy way to get a ton of greens in! There’s a lot less crumble here than with your average crinkly kale chip. Make them thick enough and they’re dippable!

Belated Honeymoon

In the past two weeks, this happened:

  • My last day at work.
  • Andy defended his thesis and became a doctor of philosophy in micro-nano manipulation and extreme nose-to-grindstoned-edness.
  • We moved.

Andy flew back to Denver to work this week, but flies into Chicago tonight, and tomorrow we begin this:

  • Singapore
  • Bali
  • Xi’an
  • Guilin
  • Beijing

I will take it. I may or may not document these adventures here, depending on how motivated I’m feeling and how much downtime we have. We did get a fancy new camera, however, that may need to debut its work. Pay no heed to the quality of the photo compositions. The idiot behind the camera doesn’t know what she’s doing.

One of the perks of crazy amounts of the nonstop travel I did a couple years back for a previous IT consulting job was a growing stockpile of mileage and hotel points. Observe the before and after.






My favorite part is the advert pointing out that we could have saved miles by simply paying $20,126.00 out of pocket.

Our goal was to drain my hotel and mileage points and spend little out-of-pocket, and we’ve successfully met that goal THANKYOUITCONSULTING. There are some overnights and flights not covered by the points that we booked separately on cheapo Chinese domestic airlines and other such sites. And we couldn’t resist the upgrade to first class from Beijing to Chicago (with a stopover in Japan), as it was only a few hundred dollars total. Completely worth it, if you ask me.

More later, but for now, it’s back to packing and prepping my sister for extreme catladyness as she takes on our two cats in addition to her own for the next several weeks. So far I’ve purchased for her a crochet hook, ten bottles of nailpolish, and Instagram. Okay, I didn’t purchase anything because I already had all that myself. Cat ladies think alike.

More later from the other side of the world, where they drink coffee made from cat poo. Mmmmmm!!!

Let’s Do That.

Not to brag, as I know your Thanksgivings are all as exciting as mine has been, but I bet yours didn’t include the following conversation:

Sister: Have you ever taken those online tests that tell you how fast you can type?

Me: Yes.

Sister: Let’s do that tonight.

We’re pretty excited for it.

So here is to you this Thanksgiving, whether your living room is strewn with passed out family members, or you’re in line at Best Buy waiting to brawl Black-Friday-Style, or you Googled “chicago thanksgiving dinner restaurants 2012” and ended up at Ann Sather meeting some pretty sweet strangers (by the way, our sweet strangers – Jerry and Julia – are pictured below).

Be thankful. Be Giving. Be well!

p.s. Yeah, I did wear that sweater again!



In Which I Covertly Donate Porn (ACCIDENTALLY!)

You should probably read this if only for the WTH-you’re-KIDDING-me surprise super-twist at the end. Yes, this is for real. Yes, it was my porn. But I didn’t even have the chance to watch it, you see. A bachelorette party gift from a friend who shall not be named, I totally forgot I even had this in my possession. It sat in its original packaging (NIB!) in a bright pink and black bag adorned with bachelorette-y things I had received at my bachelorette party over two years ago.

I’ve never been a good porn-handler. That’s what you can take from all of this, but I should back up a bit. As you may know, Andy and I are in the process of moving. Chicago to Denver, specifically, but that’s a whole other post. For now you’re wondering if I’ll get to the porn part already, and to you I say “keep your pants on.” I fancy myself a storyteller, and all good tales have character development and compelling plotlines building up to the crux of it all. Porn especially. I’m just trying to make this worth your while.

Where was I? Oh, right. We’re moving.

I have been left alone in Chicago to pack up our apartment while A is already in Denver at the new job (don’t worry, he’ll make up for it). Me left alone with mountains of organizational work feed into my somewhat OCD personality like the sun on pale flesh. This time I am trying my darndest to be extremely liberal with the “donate” pile. It’s a mountain of boxes, bags, furniture; the sheer will it has taken to place certain loved-but-unused items into it has really taken it out of me. It leaves me thinking what every good human thinks when being truly charitable with their time and effort: I hope I get something out of this. I got more than I bargained for, you’ll see.

I scheduled a pick-up with the Salvation Army. Pick-up? Yup. Already winning. So Monday comes and the truck arrives and I am so excited to finally be rid of this mountain that’s been growing in our landing for days and days. I tell the guys, I say, I’ll be right back, I have to toss the cats in a separate room. I come back and the following conversation takes place:

SA man: Ma’am? You say you have pets?

Ma’am: Yes, but I just put them in a closed-off room, so you don’t have to worry about them.

SA man: Ma’am?

Ma’am: Yes?

SA man: We aren’t allowed to accept anything from households with pets.

Whoa. Whoa, now. WHAT?!

They could have mentioned something on the website, or when I called to schedule the pick-up and they have you itemize the number and sizes of boxes, bags, and pieces you plan to donate, or when they offer a generous pick-up window of “between 8am and 4pm” on the day of your scheduled pickup.

But these guys, kind as they were (and apologetic – I’m sure they get this all the time), couldn’t do anything about it. When I asked them how I would have known something like this, they gave me a slip of paper they hand to people with checkboxes for why they couldn’t take the pick-up. Here’s the one he said covers households with pets: “The items offered are not environmentally safe.”

Okay so that side-story was completely irrelevant to the main plot, because ALSO a part of any good story are side-plots. See how I’m super good at telling stories and you’re not at all annoyed at what this has become? WHAT ABOUT THE PORN, you’re asking. I can feel it. To wrap up this chapter, Salvation Army sucks. Not really, I’m sure they’re good people, but come ON.

I called my bff Macky to whine about the pile of shiz that remained in my keeping. She suggested I try the Craigslist free section. I whined some more. I didn’t want people coming to my house at night when I’m alone. A friend of mine was tragically lost to a monster who used Craigslist as a trap, and I am extremely cautious about using it in general, especially alone.

So I came up with a plan to put everything on the walkway on the side of the house, post it on Craigslist, and leave the front gate unlocked for just a couple of hours. Here’s what happened:
1. I post the ad.
2. I hauled my ass up and down stairs with boxes and bags and a gigantic double-storage ottoman for 15 minutes straight. It was easily a Shred workout’s worth.
3. I wrote “FREE” on a couple pieces of paper and taped them up, then I opened the gate.
It was dark. It was creepy.

How dark and creepy? This:

So I went inside and waited and spied. This worked out well because I got the added benefit of seeing the excitement on the faces of the Craigslist scavengers. Less than 1.5 hours from when I posted the ad, everything was gone. All of it.

Two groups of people came to pick up all of it (spying is fun). First was a family, kids and all, and man, they filled that minivan. Next was another minivan, this time full of three 20-something girls. THEY are the ones that ended up with the bachelorette kit a la porno. Mind you, I still hadn’t realized it was even in there until after they were long gone. It is my hope that this “The Office”-inspired porno goes on to become something of a tradition, passed on to bachelorettes for years to come, perhaps never once leaving its jacket of plastic as a sort of ode to how much girls couldn’t give a crap about porn.

Oh! Also in that pink and black bag: Candy nipple tassels. I won’t name names, but that little treat came from one of my three sisters. Why didn’t I use those babies? Oh, I will tell you; This episode of 1,000 Ways to Die is why. (Warning: This clip, or anything on Spike TV, really, is neither appropriate for children nor safe for work … as if your work hasn’t already blocked this page.) So now I steer clear of sexual encounters involving candy of any kind.

(NOTE: You are about to read the final side-story before I get to the twist-ending. I swear!) Like I said, I am not good at handling porn or inappropriate things in any manner. I cannot be trusted to be discreet about it. Case in point: High school, Junior Year, my 17th birthday. I had this big party and a couple friends gave me a Playgirl. I tucked it between the folded clothes in my laundry basket during the party, and the next morning I stealthily snuck it up to my bedroom and tossed it in a desk drawer. A day or two later, my dear mother hauled my folded laundry up two flights of stairs and knocked on my door.

Mom: I have your laundry.

Me: Oh, thanks! Please just drop it off. I’m kind of busy with boys and make-up and boys and talking on the phone and boys.

Mom: Sure thing! But I did want to check something with you real quick. [pulls out slip of paper from between folded clothes] … Did you want to renew, or …?

I may have taken some liberties paraphrasing there, as I was only sometimes so rudely dismissive of my parents, but that last line is exactly what she said, with just the level of smirk you’d expect from a devout Catholic woman raising her fourth teenager.

Now for that twist. Because all good storytellers tell you exactly how and when to expect a surprise ending, especially right before. Is that how it works? This is also great because any of you who know me on the FB and have seen a recent post of mine already knows what the twist is. So that’s the real surprise: IT’S NOT A SURPRISE! For some of you, anyhow. I should also be clear that if you DON’T already know the surprise, I don’t know how this ending is going to go over. It might be awkward and uncomfortable for all of us, because I’m not sure I can find a clever way to segue after that. I’m just gonna drop it and I’m out, okay? Consider yourself warned.

This morning I went to meet a co-worker for coffee. When I stepped outside I saw a box on our front stoop that wasn’t one of my donated items. I could tell by the graphic photo of a naked woman and man on the box. What the … ? So I walk up to it. Right there in one of my empty boxes still labeled with a giant sign reading “FREE” in my handwriting, was now a “Door Jam Sex Sling” in its original packaging.

Of note for all you Holiday shoppers: This is “perfect for travel”! My God, what do the neighbors think of me now?

Is this someone one-upping my free nipple tassels and adult DVD or WHAT? Just when I thought I couldn’t miss this city any more, here comes another thing to add to my upcoming “Chicago Will Steal Your Heart” goodbye post.

From the Depths of My Weird Heart

Going through years of hoarded memories during this move has been an enthralling and enriching experience. Did I mention we’re moving? That Andy’s already gone? That I get to pack up the two-bedroom apartment we’ve lived in four years and it’s scary how many receipts I’ve managed to save over that period of time and yet whenever I need a receipt to return something it is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND? Hey, self. Why didn’t you check behind the stove? There’s TONS of room for receipts back there!

Something I did find: An album of senior photos of my high school friends, each with a written message on the back. Direct quote from one of my biggest-ever crushes in the history of Debbie’s millions of pretty big crushes:

“You’re definitely one of the weirdest people I’ve met.”

From the depths of my weird, weird heart, that made me laugh hard and feel so proud of that girl for letting her weirdness be what it was, even around the boys she tried to impress. You know who you are (no you don’t).

Message to the little ladies and gents: Be who you are. It will always be your best bet.

p.s. The guy who wrote that? Totally wanted to do me. Just sayin’.

Cat Hoarding 101

Along the journey to retrieve a much beloved magnetic measuring spoon I knocked behind the stove, I unveiled this most shocking discovery:

Besides the general SIIIIIIICK that dwells in this place … Hooraaaaay! It’s Barley’s hoarding spot! Only since he’s a cat, he is too adorably stupid to realize the possessions he “hides” here can never be retrieved.

After cleaning up the nastiness, I reintroduced B to his favorite toy and most menacing enemy fo life: The Dollar Tree Fish Toy. Nothing, I repeat, nothing gets him going as much as this thing. He goes wild for it and immediately starts breathing heavily when he sees this obviously intimidating chunk of cotton-stuffed burlap. Le Kitteh is le happeh once again.

Halloween cat says “Hi!”

The other one just puked inside my shoe. What’s with that, other one? He’s not much of a puker, but when he does, he really makes it count.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

30 Days of Juice: All Our Data Are Belong To You

It’s a free-for-all!

Use this information wisely, not because it will necessarily benefit you, but because it is me posting my weight on a public forum and somehow I feel like that’s really dangerous. Like, someday down the road when I’m 106 I’ll be happily rocking on the front porch with my Hendrick’s and tonic and one of my great, great grandchildren will phone me from his arm or ear lobe or wherever they’re embedding phones those days (if phones even exist. More likely he’ll ring me up with his BRAIN ALONE), and he’ll be all “Grandma, I’m writing a research paper on ancient caveman wall scribbles they called “blogs,” and turns out you weighed 208 lbs?!? That’s not even legal. How did you manage to smuggle so much butter? I heard McDonald’s used to be one of the greatest offenders of human health and longevity, but I assumed you lived well after the banning of sugar, oil, and artificial dyes. So I’m going to have to take you in.” And then I’ll just die. And my sweet, innocent 5-year-old grandson will take a puff of his joint, pull out his pocket laser and vaporize my body on the spot. I should just erase this entire blog right now.

This sucker has pretty much all of our data from the juice fast, minus cost calculations (which I DO have – just not in the spreadsheet … yet).

A quick preview below, or click here for the actual document.

Custom Recipes

Performance Tracker

Weight Tracker

you didn't see nuthin'

30 Days of Juice: A Follow-Up

Time flies when you’re eating real food. Today marks one whole week of solid food after our 30 day juice fast. I thought I would check in to let you know what’s what nowadays. Very soon I’ll be sharing our entire tracker, which includes our daily juice intake (quantity, frequency, type), grocery lists for every week, weight tracker, ALL of our custom juice and nut milk recipes, and other stuff, too.

But first …

  • I miss juice. My friend Steve says I’m Stockholming, which is probably right. There is a sort of simplicity to juice, and once you’re back out in the big, bad world of “real” food, there is so much variety it can be overwhelming. And overeating is entirely too easy. It’s a little scary, to be honest. So we’ve still been juicing from time to time. We’ve juiced at least five or six meals since the fast ended, and it always feels and tastes so good.
  • Breaking the Fast: We stayed up until midnight to celebrate and break our fast. We were in Colorado, so as my mom pointed out to me a few days later, we could have actually broken fast at 11pm, being in Mountain Time and all. Oops. Had I made that connection, I could have saved myself the excruciating pork and bacon food specials on the travel channel, which is what I chose to watch in the hour leading up to midnight. Btw, did you know about chocolate-dipped bacon or half-bacon half-beef burgers? They’re so hot right now.  Anyways, back to the breaking of the fast. At midnight, we pulled out some leftover appetizers from my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday party earlier that day, and together we took our first bites. Mine was (drumroll) … fruit! Soon followed by a baguette cracker with smoked salmon, a little cream cheese and a honey-dill sauce. Pretty dang tasty. We ate a few more bites of party apps, and then felt full and called it a night. A thrilling, accomplished night.
  • The Transition: We weren’t as careful as everyone warned us to be, and it all went fine. Our first day back we made homemade kale chips with soft-boiled eggs for breakfast – one of our most favorite meals in the world. For lunch we were up in the mountains and we stopped at our favorite little deli in Frisco, where we each ordered a 6″ sub. Between the two of us, we finished half of one sandwich and were super full. Every meal out since has ended with a lot of doggy bags in the fridge, so sooner or later we should learn to just stop ordering a full meal each. We’ve gone right back to eating meat, but smaller portions of it. Overall we are eating a lot healthier. Fewer carbs, more veggies (and fruits!), little oil and butter. I just don’t crave what I used to (What’s that? It WORKED?!).
  • Looking Ahead: We had both been greatly anticipating a good workout routine, but were holding off until we finished the fast and got our feet back on solid (food) ground again. Andy has been on a pretty intense push-up/sit-up regimen since our first day off the fast, and yesterday we did our first real workout: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30. It is no easy thing and I wanted to puke and die after the first five minutes. OMGsofun!!! Today I’m sore, but I feel great. Let the ripping/burning/othergymrattermsforexercis-ing continue!

Juicing Day 30: THE LAST DAY

This is it. The final day of our 30-day juice cleanse. Solid “real” food awaits us on the other side of today, and we are pretty dang excited about it.

We flew to Denver yesterday to surprise Andy’s mother for her 60th birthday (Edna screamed a lot. It was precious). Luckily, they own a juicer, so we’ve been able to keep up the gig to the very end, EVEN through the open house birthday party today with cake (which didn’t draw me in, shockingly), candy (also no craving there), and some extremely tasty-looking appetizers, some of which involved smoked salmon (now those I wanted to pounce on).

Tonight we will break our fast at midnight if we can manage to stay up that late, and tomorrow Andy and I are driving into the Rocky Mountains to picnic, lolligag, and experience extreme mountain happiness. I’m smiling just typing that.

For now, I leave you with this photo of our final juiced meals – three of our favorites to end it on a high note:

Meals for the final day: pure apple, sweet heirloom tomato (heirloom tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, chili peppers, cilantro), and pure strawberry