Monday Musings…. Steaming revelations!

Another Monday, but a Monday off! life is a good! For some reason this morning as I “dressed” I had to laugh at myself. You see getting dressed for the day means transitioning from Pj’s to yoga pants. If I go out I may switch to jeans, but I might not. Even if I was going to work I would be wearing scrubs! What this has to do with cooking, or steaming revelations? I have no idea except that I have spent the majority of my life in pretty comfy clothes. Just don’t ask me to go out too fancy due to my limited wardrobe lol 🙂

Let’s try this transition…  Doing my Rouxbe on-line cooking school has really been interesting. I watched videos this weekend on steaming, parboiling and poaching. It made  me think back to when I took home economics in school. Simple, learning the basics, and being comfortable in the kitchen… (notice “the comfortable” connection) okay I tried!

I realize I might be showing my age referencing home economics, as I am not sure they even teach home ec. or the valuable skills some of us learned in said class. I think my niece Zoe told me they teach some watered down crammed class and call it life skills.  I realized that by not teaching some of these basic skills to the younger generation, it’s no wonder we have an increasingly sick society, or one that has no idea how to boil water, roast, or pick out fresh veggies and fruits. No one knows how to even prepare simple real foods. I never considered myself a baker or cook, but I still have my final project from class in which we had to prepare a whole meal. We had to show shopping list, the cost break down and a picture of the table… Yes, I still have it, crazy I know, and no I don’t have hoarding issues :), except with pictures, and maybe cookbooks! While my enjoyment factor in the kitchen actually grew later in life and I will admit to not knowing the vast bounty of veggies until I became a veg head, some of what I learned in home ec. stuck. Add in there a Mom who cooked up real food at home and I had a better education on real food than most. So it was cool to get back to some of the basics this weekend. I am enjoying this aspect of this class. It’s the building blocks, of cooking, from setting up the kitchen to knowing the difference between steaming, boiling, poaching… learning the fine line to coaks out beautiful color and flavor of veggies.

One of my task was steaming Kale. I know, Kale again, yes Kale again. I know I don’t need to expound, again the wonders of Kale, but have you ever considered steaming it? I have to admit as stated in the video, steaming veggies is often associated with bland cafeteria veggies, over cooked and under seasoned. Or better yet, dieting. Neither path I really want to wonder down. This was homework, and I had to do it, but would I eat it? Yes, because I like Kale, and even if it wasn’t great I wouldn’t waste it… but would I like it? In my mind I was already contemplating what I would do with said Kale if I didn’t like it, could I mask it in a smoothie?

So I stripped off some leaves from the bounty of kale, but not too much in case it wasn’t that great, but enough to say I did the assignment.


Then I dug out my steamer pan. Honestly I haven’t used this little pan in said way too often. Thanks Todd and Sue for the long ago gift of this little set! Dig around you all might have one in your pantry too!

Steamer pan
Steamer pan

If you don’t have a pan like this, you might have one of those inexpensive steamer baskets, or you may have a colander with slots that will fit in another pan you can use that. The key is having a vessel that you can put a safe amount of water in the bottom that won’t touch the food, a slotted vessel for the veggies, and a tight-fitting lid.

Next to get the water rolling a little, then placing the top pan with kale already in it on and covering with the lid. I then melted a little coconut oil, about a teaspoon (the recipe called for butter/ earthbalance vegan butter, but I don’t use it) and I also toasted up some pine nuts, just because, you could use whatever nuts you want or none! I honestly don’t know how long I steamed, but I would say less than 5 minutes. I tested, as suggested in my teaching early and often as to not over cook. I took the kale out of the pan carefully, remember steam burns too! Tossed it up with the oil, added salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled on the nuts.

… and I tasted…

steamed kale
steamed kale

and I was pleasantly surprised. When I tasted during steaming, I liked the simplicity of the clean taste of the kale, adding a little salt and pepper plus the coconut oil only boosted the fresh earthy goodness of the Kale. Simply, simple dish packed with such awesome goodness! Yummo! 🙂 By the way, I had to make a second helping just to make sure this wasn’t a fluke. Nope the second bowl was just as tasty. Often people don’t like Kale because it is tough. I have made marinated Kale to change the texture, even added it to stir fries and  soups, but steaming… never really thought about it. I feared that it would be wilted, and bitter-tasting or lack flavor at all, I was wrong… big time! Seriously this took less than 5 minutes and would be such a refreshing addition to any meal, even if you aren’t vegan! The color itself is so inviting, bright green goodness looking up at you… saying eat me, I will give you all your body is craving!

So there you have it, my journey into steaming things up this weekend!  If you have never steamed veggies, I encourage you to add it to your repertoire! I know I will be adding it in more now that I understand the process. Some ideas and tips: Add your seasoning after steaming. Toss veggies with fresh herbs, lemon juice, a little flavored nut oil and you have a fresh dish. Steaming veggies retains many of their nutritional goodness! Check the veggies for doneness early, they should give just enough to have that good “bite feel” no mushiness! Use steaming for reheating foods too. It’s better than using a microwave as it adds a little moisture whereas microwaving often dries food up. I tried this too with some leftover quinoa and was pleased with the result. I had to use a little piece of parchment paper that I cut slits in so the quinoa wouldn’t fall into the holes, and easy peasy, almost like I had just made it, and revived with just enough moistness!

I hope you will give steaming a chance, if nothing else just for another way to try out king Kale!

I would be remiss this close to Valentines to not include a little chocolate decadence. While I can’t say I really “celebrate” this holiday, I will find any excuse to eat some good chocolate, or make chocomole. Today I am sharing from a couple of my favorite vegan chefs sites. So steam up the kitchen with some veggie goodness, add in a chocolate treat and show your Valentine that you not only love them, but you really do care about their heart!


Chocolate Tart with raspberry sorbet Chef Chad Sarno

Orange Chocolate Pudding chef Dreena Burton

Orange Chocolate Pudding (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, raw, oil-free, nut-free)






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