It’s no secret that I love social media. I believe it can be, and have seen it be, a force for positive change. It brings people together in a way previously unknown to the world. My passion for local food has been nurtured and encouraged by it to the point where I can officially say that social media is a now a passion of mine unto itself. I’m sure it’s been there a while, but I have only just recently come to recognize it.
It all began with a #
Well, actually it all began with whomever in this great big world decided to first stuff kale into a blender with other ingredients to make a smoothie. That then became a series of mocking posts on Twitter, which became the hashtag #waronkale. Much more derisive conversation ensued. Banter on both sides, with an ever increasing number of participants taking jabs at or a stand for the blending of kale into drinks, and for the green stuff in general. And then it happened… Someone mentioned a kale themed potluck.
Kaleapalooza was born
I was surprised by how many people got behind the idea of participating in a potluck based on an equally maligned and trendy leafy green vegetable, with a group of strangers. This is one of the reasons that I love social media. The banter, the shared passions, the coming together of people who otherwise may never cross paths, let alone socialize. Almost immediately a lovely (and brave) couple stepped up and offered to open their brand new home to this assorted group of kale lovers, kale haters and the curious who were largely indifferent about kale, but moved by the opportunity to gather with a group of local foodies to share a meal. It was decided. We were going to have a kale potluck.
So much variety
Who would have thought that so many dishes could feature kale? There was such a variety. Dips, pies, tortas, roulades, stews, chili, curry (my contribution), and even kale kombucha and kale desserts. We were spoiled for choice, and none of it of the typical “potluck” quality. It was all excellent food. Not all dishes featured kale, as we had some omnivores in attendance who fell firmly on the meat loving side of things, including my husband. He was blown away by the mac & cheese, set out by our lovely hostess, Joanne.
1 pound cavatappi (spiral tube-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons butter
2 TB all purpose flour
3 cups of milk or cream (use any level of fat you want, I’ve made it with both full fat cream and skim milk and both are good – it just depends on how rich you want it)
3.5 cups grated cheese (use any combination of sharp cheese you want, I use aged Balderson’s white cheddar and either Asiago or Parmigiano Reggiano)
100 grams mild blue cheese
1 tsp dry mustard
1 lb. bacon and/or ham, chopped, cooked and drained
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Drain.
Heat milk until hot, but not scalded.
Make a roux: melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour. Whisk and cook about 3 minutes, whisking constantly (do not allow to brown).
Gradually whisk heated milk into roux. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, whisking occasionally, about 5 – 10 minutes. Add mustard powder. Remove from heat. Add the blue cheese and 3 cups of grated cheese (reserve a half cup for topping). Whisk until cheese melts. Season sauce to taste with cracked pepper.
Add cooked pasta to sauce; stir to coat. Stir in bacon, if using. Pour in a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Bake until sauce begins to bubble, about 25 minutes. To brown the top, either increase the temp to 400F on convection or put under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chives (or kale) and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
I could write an essay on my feelings about gathering around food and the historical importance of eating together and our need as humans to connect over shared passions. But this is just a blog post. Come to a random food-themed potluck some time and we can discuss it. In the meantime, I am grateful for the opportunity to connect “in real life” with so many amazing people. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you all.