Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.”
Gabriel García MárquezMemories of My Melancholy Whores

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


my grandfather in the news!

I wish it didn't take Rihanna to give my grandfather a little publicity, because I think his talent and his paintings are extraordinary, but I am beyond proud. 

I bet Steve is sorry now he gave back his painting!! 

Gordon is in BBC news!!!!

By Simon Hunter

'Rihanna's tree' up for grabs in church sale

RihannaRihanna's controversial video was filmed in the field Gordon McKnight painted 30 years ago.
It seems a long time ago now but there was an age before the MTV European Music Awards descended on Belfast.
And in that pre-'Bieber hits Belfast' era, there were also huge entertainment stories.
The biggest of the bunch was the controversy caused by R&B star Rihanna filming her latest, raunchy video in a field near Bangor.
The story became a global phenomenon when farmer Alan Graham interrrupted filming of the video and told Rihanna to "cover up".
Now, the instantly recognisable tree from the 'We Found Love' video, which was also filmed in Belfast's New Lodge, is up for sale.
But this version of the tree comes from before the Barbadian popstar was even born.
It is a watercolour of the eye-catching tree as viewed from the main Belfast to Bangor carriageway. A view closely mirrored in the Rihanna video.
It was painted almost 30 years ago by Bangor man Gordon McKnight and it will be auctioned by Ballygilbert Church later this month to help raise funds.
The 92-year-old painted the tree in 1983 and never dreamt of the fuss it would be involved in come 2011.
Gordon McKnightGordon McKnight with his painting of the infamous 'Rihanna' tree.
"I am absolutely astounded at the level of interest in the tree painting," said Mr McKnight
"I initially painted it as I had always liked the view coming along the carriageway.
"When the Rihanna furore came about, I dug the painting out of the attic and offered it to the church for the exhibition."
It is hoped the watercolour will help raise thousands of pounds for the newly refurbished and extended church halls.
The painting will be auctioned alongside 200 other pieces at an exhibition in the church from 17 to 20 November.
Director of the exhibition, John Coote said: "We are very excited about Gordon's painting and indeed all the artists who have contributed to the exhibition.
"This year, with Gordon's contribution, we aim to open the exhibition to a bigger audience and want to thank him for donating the painting to us."
Who knows, there may even be a phone bidder from Barbados looking for something to display in her multi-million dollar home.
This is copied and pasted form the Bangor Spectator, the Northern Ireland newspaper where my relatives live. 

Church hopes ‘Rihanna tree’ will raise the roof

A SKETCH of Bangor’s globally famous ‘Rihanna tree’ goes on sale this month to help fund repairs to a nearby church.

The tree, chosen for its distinctive look and location, features in the video for the controversial pop megastar’s number one smash hit We Found Love.

It was flashed around the world in September when Rihanna, who brought the streets to a standstill when she arrived to shoot the video, was asked to stop filming by landowner and North Down alderman Alan Graham.

Upset by Rihanna’s raunchy moves, Mr Graham refused to let her carry on – though the video still shows the scantily clad superstar cavorting with a shirtless boy while the famous tree is framed in the background.

One man who spotted the tree’s star quality is ninety-something Gordon McKnight, who realised it was a special sight five years before Rihanna was even born.

A committed Christian, Mr McKnight now hopes that a sketch of the tree he put to canvas in 1983 will help raise some much-needed cash to repair the roof of nearby Ballygilbert Church.

The sketch, along with 200 other pieces, will be on display from November 17 to 20, after which all the works of art will be auctioned off to help the roof repairs fund.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"It is fatal to know too much at the outset: boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is overcertain of his plot." Paul Theroux, To the Ends of the Earth

Mum and Dad left today with two suitcases filled with the last of my belongings. One is for Dad to take to Ireland, and the other is my checked-in luggage. What didn't make the cut - what I'm still not ready to part ways with and what didn't fit into these two suitcases - was dropped off in our storage unit yesterday. There's nothing left here. All I have is a shoulder bag with enough clothes to dress me next weekend in DC, let alone the rest of the week here in Portsmouth. I'm not planning on bringing both suitcases to Australia, it's just that, and I don't know why, but I'd rather have the majority of my stuff in Ireland, as a somewhat stable "home-base," or in one place, rather than sitting in storage. Most of my clothes are there anyways, leftover from Italy as I only packed to come back to America for a month. Who knows where I'll end up, but somewhere inside of me, despite this vagabonding adventure I'm about to embark upon, is itching to have just one home where I can set up all my things, rather than it being here and there, making friends with mice in storage, and taking up space at John and Sheelagh's. (Maybe one day I'll have more than one home :) ) I consider myself to be a particularly good packer, but I wonder if I'll be able to pack for a trip across the world with just my backpacker bag. And I HATE over-packing, it makes me fidgetly-anxious and hot-flashed-claustrophobic. 
one year in this bag?

Packing for such a trip is hard. I try to think of all the things I packed for Italy and didn't wear (those red heels for dancing in Milanese clubs that were only worn for Halloween - the Colorno cobblestone, the Colorno everything were just not well-suited for such footwear). I guess once I figure out what I'll be doing over there, I'll be able to plan a little bit more accordingly. Until then, it's a lot of What If's and oooh-maybe-I'll-have-an-excuse-to-wear-this-headband-that-I-haven't-worn-in-5-years-again. 

But at least when I'm in Ireland, I'll have ample amounts of time to pack and unpack, pack and unpack, pack and unpack - one of my favorite stress-relieving late night activities.*

*Arina!! Who's going to make fun of me?! 

Bill Bryson's Australia - Watch Out.

I just finished reading Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country (yes, Sunburned, not Sunburnt) and here are some of the things I have to look forward to:

"It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures - the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish - are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. Pick up an innocuous cone shell form a Queensland beach, as innocent tourists are all too wont to do, and you will discover that the little fellow inside is not just astoundingly swift and testy but exceedingly venomous. If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It's a tough place." page 6. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naivete, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do." Steve Martin, Born Standing Up

Monday, November 7, 2011

A click of fate brought me to The Greatest Cheese Jokes In The World Facebook fan page. Copied and pasted, I must share, I take absolutely no credit...

A tornado destroyed a french cheese factory. All that was left was de Brie.

How do the Welsh eat their cheese? Caerphilly.

What cheese do you use to coax a bear from a tree? Camambert!

So I went to a party last night, and brought loads of cheese to share with everyone, but I don't understand why there is stiltons left?!

What cheese belongs in a psychiatric ward? Emental

Why did the greek woman stop eating cheese? Because she was getting Feta and Feta.

What did the cheese say when it looked in the mirror? Hallomi

What's the best cheese to hide a horse behind? Marscapone.

My girlfriend left me because she thought it was weird how much I love touching pasta. I’m feeling cannelloni right now.
Why does cheese look sane? Because everyone else on the plate is crackers.

A stone and a cheese were having a fight. The cheese was wining, but the roquefort back.

I hope you all have edam good day

what cheeses are good on a hot day? cooool bries

Someone threw milk and cheese in my face the other day..... I said how dairy!

what cheese is made backwards? edam

What did the quiet cheese say to the talkative cheese? Quit your chitter cheddar

What's the best cheese to hide a horse behind? Mascarpone. 

 what do you call a cheese that’s not yours? Nacho Cheese!

I went on a cheese diet in order to chedder a few pounds.

Three men are in a bar having a drink. When a gorgeous woman comes up to them and says Whoever can use the words ‘liver’ and ‘cheese’ in a creative sentence can date me for tonight.
The first man says "I love liver and cheese!" to which the woman replies "That’s not good enough!"
A second man gives it a shot "I hate liver and cheese!" and the woman says "That’s not creative!"
Finally, a third man says "Liver alone, cheese mine."

can we just start being a bit more mature?

all these cheese jokes go WHEY over my head but they are legendairy, Brieliant!

......and yes, I did click the thumbs-up Like button. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." John Steinback, Travels with Charley.

I woke up this morning to an email forwarded from Mum for a 20% discount at Barnes & Nobles. Overwhelmed from spending all day yesterday cooking soups and trying to use up farm produce in the fridge before they go bad - at least we now have a freezer full of end-of-season deliciousness - I decided to take advantage of a trip out of the house. I went with the intention of wanting to buy Yotam Ottolenghi's other cook book but no such luck. I stood and stared in the cookbook section for at least half an hour, my head tilted trying to read the vertical titles of the tightly packed shelves of books and trying to figure out how they were ordered. The labels said by author, but it seemed like by subject....anyways and actually, I wasn't really that impressed with their book selection. Some of the books I wanted to buy just as "staples" of good cookbooks, some I wanted to buy to write down the recipes at home then return but they are probably online anyways, and other than that I felt a little seen-that, done-that. I wandered away, not empty handed though - one cheese book I have since become infatuated with that I couldn't resist buying, 20% off yah!! and another one I cannot disclose in case a certain someone is reading this and might receive it as a gift.

So, as I clearly have enough food at home to not need any more stimulating recipe incentives, I reconfigured my (financial) priorities and dragged myself away from my usual B&N spot to the travel section. Quickly, a new sense of exhilaration came over me as I browsed these shelves and my arms filled up with books with titles like Living Abroad in Australia, Only Pack What You Can Carry, In A Sunburned Country, The Songlines, A Woman Alone, Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost, Wanderlust, Tales of a Female Nomad, Never Trust a Thin Chef (ok that one was about Italy)...I wanted to not only learn and be inspired by these books' trips and stories, but I had this intoxicating excitement that I too would be able to write and narrate my own, full of my own future trips and stories. I couldn't possibly afford all these, and why would you when there is such thing as a library? Off I went (cheese book and gift book in the bag) to the Portsmouth Library. Their collection wasn't quite as good as B&N but enough to get me started.

It's funny how 2 months can feel so far away, thinking about all the days in between that have to occur before that anticipated day arrives (regardless of all the little logistical things to do in between) but then standing in between stacks of bookshelves of endless stories makes you just wish time could slow down so that you could have enough time to read, learn, absorb, and be inspired by all that surrounds you? Wanting two impossible things at the same time is quite astounding.

I came across a book I had read over a year ago when I was in Portsmouth trying, again, to find where to go and what to do with my life. I guess with a year of travel experience and confidence behind me, the book, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, stuck out and seemed a bit more relevant. (Unfortunately the book about how to travel lightly did not resonate so well. For all those study trips and stages in Italy where I had a shoulder bag and everyone else lugged suitcases behind them, this information was just common-sense wordage on a page to me. I tried desperately to take reasonable notes in pre-trip preparation: passport copies, suitcase lock, int'l converters....ummmmm!) Luckily, the author of Vagabonding, Rolf Potts, seemed to read my mind and somewhat related and made sense of all the mumble-jumble in my head that I am trying to sort out and explain, even to justify, to others, and to myself.
Let me see if I can explain. I'm kinda paraphrasing from the book slash incorporating my own thoughts.

Travel, it says, should not be about an escape or boredom, (although those sound like pretty good motivators and I've thought about those justifying grounds myself, questioning my own excuses or reasons for wanting to go to Australia) but it's more about passion, curiosity, and adventure. It's not about making some rebellion against social norms and what I should be doing, but instead trying to make my own sense within this life. Traveling is a personal reflection upon one's own life and I think it's obvious that people get different things out of it (observation from 26 of us traveling/living together for a year). And at the same time, I am not at all making any judgements or thoughtswhatsoever about what anyone else is doing, or not doing. It's not a social wave hello/goodbye or some sort of high ground, it's purely personal that demands a complete reflection upon myself. This is my life and everyone needs to live their own, the way they have to or want to.  I noticed when I left for Italy, and throughout my travels, a lot of people would say how jealous they were and wish they could travel too and were living vicariously through my blog and my facebook pictures.  Everyone has their own life boxes to tick off their priorities, and everyone does what is prevalently, essentially the most important to them. Something led me here.

I don't think I'm being irresponsible or self-indulgent; clearly I openly admit I do not have the financial means to do much, but I have been making little sacrifices, adjustments, and more thoughtful moves and purchases as I walk through these last couple months in a more deliberate, prioritized way. Yes, I've frozen a lot of bread, I've made a lot of soup and stuck it in the freezer to last through these next couple weeks, I don't go out much, I even dyed my hair a boring-librarian color so I wouldn't have to pay for highlight touch-ups in the future. Sacrifices! This has nothing to do with anyone else but my individual feat to...I don't know...hopefully improve my life in relation to myself, not to others. So when I say my goal isn't to move up the corporate ladder, that doesn't mean anything towards you, it's just not me...maybe I can even say not my goal "yet." Who Knows.

Life is too short to passively wait around for unknown circumstances to decide our future. I have no idea what I want to do with my life, with my education, but I like the different stages I've created along the way, learning and experiencing new things, meeting new people, and hopefully they'll all lead to something great. The book says the hardest part is deciding to go at all. I don't know about that. It was pretty easy for me, I was pretty convinced, I think since the 3rd grade - those penguins are calling my name! HA. I've been moving around a lot since I graduated - two years in NYC, 13 months in Portsmouth, 1 year in Italy, 3 months in Ireland, and another 7 months in Portsmouth, I'm antsy for what's next and to be an adult not living at home (love you mum and dad). So, Why Not? Financial logistics and obligations are the hardest thing for me, but since I have decided to go, life starts now with the planning, the researching, the saving, the anticipation. The daring uncertainty, the promising promises, the welcomed enthusiasm, the potential opportunities, the prospective stories are just exhilarating. Embracing those good with the bad makes me feel alive. At the same time it's looking towards the future and what I'll learn abroad (will my Irish accent come out when I hear Australian ones?), cultivating new interests (how long did I linger in the B&N travel section and then on to the library? all in one day? and now I'm writing about it!) as well as facing fears (many) and changing habits (read sacrifices above) to make the future more accessible.

I don't have a plan. I'm down for whatever, I'll make it work. I think I have a starting destination, I hope I do because it would be great despite any unnecessary pressure. I am officially an Australian WWOOF member, so I can live/eat for free in exchange for work ^ Awesome ^ I am ok with not having a plan though. I kinda like the uncertainty, I like having the willingness to be able to improvise, and most importantly, I think I have the confidence to do so. As the book says, having a positive attitude is way more important than having a set itinerary. Agreed. I'm excited about doing something completely on my own, having to figure it out myself, to tick off those spots you must see before you die (I'm not buying that book), trying and seeing new things, and getting excited to do simple things like figuring out the bus  or buying fruit in a stumbled-upon market that are so commonplace but because you're in a new place and did it all by yourself, it'll be like a little kid doing it for the first time. But I'll be 28 and loving life.

So wherever life takes me, wherever Australia takes me, and for whatever reasons brought me there, I'm excited. "The sheer wealth of options may seem overwhelming" - YES but ultimately I hope to find what drove me there (literally, it wasn't a $2,200 custom made limited edition rickshaw bike from Anthropologie), to make the trip for myself and what I believe I must do for my own life, and all the challenges and reasons and obstacles and awesome Instagram photos along the way, I know it's going to be worth it. I'll find this personal growth, awareness, and sensitivity the book talks about.....and if not, I'll be back in a month and figure out something else :)

This is What SNOW in OCTOBER Looks Like.

 Downtown Portsmouth
Apparently our building is connected to Memorial Bridge's power source which is why we never (knockonwood) lose power, but so many people did, and are still without power. 
Large chunks of snow in my hair!

 Portsmouth from the Down Town Portsmouth Building
St John's Church

 Following footsteps.
That's right, snow in October is SCARY!

Here’s to all the places we went. And all the places we’ll go. And here’s to me, whispering again and again and again and again: iloveyou. An Abundance Of Katherines, John Green

Having Wednesday off and Mum being up for the week, we decided to take advantage and take a trip. After work on Tuesday, we left for Jackson, NH. If I could've left work any earlier, I would have, but we got a good amount of sight seeing on the way up North as the early Fall sun set earlier than we were used to. 

on the drive up! 

mum's summer martini and my winter cocktail = perfect for fall. 

so new england. 
Gulivers Travels Pumpkins

Mum waiting for me as I jump out and take pics hahah
an Oreo cow...

we hiked.
 with a stick.

Classic NH.

Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps

ARRRR Pirates Cove.

 a fall walk.
 happy anniversary!
is this Killyhooey?
 I wanna learn to surf. 
 I didn't spend nearly as much time at the beach as I thought I would since I've been back.
Hudson filtered. Icy cooooool.  
 the sky looks infuriated.
whipped cream or cake flavored vodka is way more disgusting than this picture. 

One Step Closer To Australia

Woot!!! I mean, WWOOF.

“You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Walter Hagen

Seasonal Job. Seasonally Over.

The End of the Season...Waste not Want not.

Fall has officially ascended upon the Seacoast. (I started writing this post a couple weeks ago when I felt as though I was getting sick as the seasons were changing and craved a warm soup to clear my congested asthmatic lungs and since then a Nor'easter has also cascaded the area with a thick layer of snow, covering trees that have not lost all of their leaves causing the heavy weight to drop branches upon power lines....before was October, Mother Nature, seriously?) But, within these last couple of weeks with the ending Farmers Markets and CSA season, I have taken home a good amount of food that I have desperately, and creatively, trying to make use of - since the point of taking it home was not to let it go to waste! 

So hence begins this blog post.

The other day I went to work early to organize and manage the CSA pick up. The employees at the mart were there setting up for the start of a busy day. They go through a lot of produce, some of it bought, some of it grown on the farm. People only want good looking food though. So, any spot, crack, blemish, bruise, or imperfection is generally, if not as a rule, removed. The compost goes to another local farm to feed their pigs. I don't know why the farm - sustainably - doesn't reuse it themselves. I also don't understand why they don't use these "bad" bits to make their own pies, jams, jellies, sauces, soups. But what about all the hungry people in the area that could be fed off this locally grown food? While in Italy, I joked about dumpster diving in my fridge to use up the food we had before we went on stages or weekend trips. But, my colleagues and I go through the compost bin daily and find "perfectly good" fruits and vegetables. It's infuriating. But, yesterday, I took home 6 large eggplants with some bruises, a couple bell peppers, a head of cauliflower, and a dozen or so tomatoes that were "unsellable" and going to be thrown out. Next to this box of stuff was another box with perfectly good bunches of celery that I didn't touch, because there was no way those could be thrown out, they were definitely still good. Later in the day, I saw them being thrown out. Unbelievable. As the day progressed, my ability to breathe lessened. I don't know if there was something in the air, but I couldn't grasp enough air into my lungs which decreased my energy levels. It was a beautiful fall day, but I could tell with the changing weather that I was getting sick. What to do other than sit on the couch and watch DVDs than to make soup. So I grabbed those perfectly good bunches of celery, some a-bit-soft-but-perfect-for-soup carrots and decided to make a vegetable broth. I added the bell pepper, mushroom, ripe-ready tomatoes, fresh ginger, onion and spices and was all set to cure my congested lungs with a spoonful of leftover-apparently-unwanted healthiness.

Vegetable Soup
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, halved
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 handfuls button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp black pepper corns
5 cups water
a pinch of dill and other herbs, optional

Heat some olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add onion, celery, pepper and carrot, tossing to coat and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and almost golden. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for about an hour or until the stock tastes rich and full. Strain stock to make a vegetable stock or blend all the ingredients to make a thicker soup, full of all the tasteful, nutritious ingredients.
Roasted Eggplant Lentil Soup
1 large eggplant, about 1 1/4 lb
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup Lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
Preheat the broiler. Place the eggplants in a foil-lined pan tray and prick them a couple times so they don't explode. Broil under they are deflated, about 1 hour. Let cool, then scrape out the flesh.
Meanwhile, place the lentils in a small sauce pan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 30 minutes, until tender. Then drain.
In a larger pot, heat up some olive oil and add the onions. Cook until they have soften and turn a golden yellow. Add the lentils and the eggplant and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then simmer. Remove from heat and Stir then blend with an immersion blender. Serve with a squirt of lemon juice or sherry vinegar. 
Marinated Eggplant
2 lbs eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a handful of fresh mint, torn
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler. Brush the eggplant with olive oil and place on a baking tray. Broil (or grill) for about 5minutes turning once until golden on both sides. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, mint, and remaining 1/2 cuop olive oil. Pour over the eggplant and season with pepper. Allow to sit for 30 minutes before indulging. 
Apparently, people don't like kale and Swiss chard, or they just don't know what to do with it. Another day, I took home an enormous amount of leftover-been-sitting-there-for-3-days-about-to-be-thrown-out braising greens that has enormous potential. 

Autumn Soup
3 medium carrots, or 6 small, peeled and quartered
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion and 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 butternut squash, peel, seeded cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
6 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil
10 cups (or more) of vegetable broth
2 bunches of finely chopped kale, washed and stmmed
3 thyme springs
2 rosemary springs
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place carrots, squash, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast vegetables until they are brown and tender, giving the pan a couple good shakes occasionally, about 30-40 minutes. When cool, cut the carrots into 1/2 inch pieces; set aside. Peel garlic cloves and place in food processor with tomatoes and onion; puree until almost smooth. Pour some broth onto the baking sheet to scrape up any browned bits stuck on the bottom. Scrape the vegetable puree into a large pot and add the broth in the food processor to get the rest of the puree on the walls. Add broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to boil then reduce the heat to simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 30 minutes. Add carrots and squash to soup. Simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
Kale, Potato and Roquefort Soup
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs starchy potatoes (such as Idaho potatoes), peeled, cut into small equal sized chunks
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each parsley and thyme, and a Parmesan rind
1 pound kale, stemmed and washed thoroughly, cut into thin strips
1/2 oz Roquefort or blue cheese, more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Heat some oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the potatoes, the bouquet garni and two quarts of water. Bring to a boil, add salt, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until the potatoes are falling apart. Remove the bouquet garni. When the potatoes have begun to fall apart,  blend the soup with an immersion blender. Stir the kale into the soup, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered until tender. Add the blue cheese and blend (or can leave chunky). Taste, adjust salt and add pepper. 

What to do with kale stalks when a recipe just wants the leaves? 

They are great and super healthy to munch on while cooking! I heated up some olive oil in a pan with some sliced garlic. When they became a bit softer, add the kale stalks and toss to coat. Cook for about 7 minutes until slighly tender then add some strips of red pepper,  a couple black olives, some red pepper flakes, and about a tablespoon of horseradish. Crunchy. Flavorful. Nothing wasted
Braised Greens with Olives and Goat Cheese
I made this one up with stuff I had...
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 bunches of braising greens (mix kale, Swiss chard, collared greens) washed, stems removed, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
a handful of green olives, halved
crumbled goat cheese
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft and translucent. Add the green stems and cook until softened then add the leaves. Toss to coat in the olive oil, adding some white wine or water for more moisture. Add the red pepper and cook until softened. Add the olives, toss to combine then transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese and red pepper flakes over and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. 
Curried Cauliflower Manchego Soup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs cauliflower florets
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
squirt of sriracha
1 tbsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup Manchego (or Cheddar) cheese
salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the cauliflower. Cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until tender and light golden brown. Add the onion and garlic and stir in to coat, then add the bay leaves and sirarcha. Stir again and cook for another 5 mintues. Add teh stock and bring to a boil then simmer for about 25 mintues, until the cauliflower is soft. Add some water to replace what has evaporated, add the cheese, and season to taste. Bring to a boil so that the cheese melts and simmer. Blend with an immersion blender. 

....and this was only a couple of the recipes that I made. Mum also made a tasty kale and white bean soup. Full disclosure: I'm really bad at following recipes. My absolute favorite is to read through cook books, but when it actually comes down to using them, I use the recipes as guidelines and kinda make it up as I go....IF you use any of these, I am sure they will be fantabulously delicious, but I trust your own instincts as you go.