Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Borekole Recipe (Dutch Kale, or Stamppot)

Red Russian Kale
My parents were landed immigrants. Yup. It's true! They moved to Canada in the mid-1950's from Holland. There was not much going on in Holland after the war. The country had been demolished by six long years of fighting and the thousands of bombs dropped from on high. It was a pretty trying time, and since Canada had liberated the Dutch and set fire to the imaginations of impressionable youngsters like my parents, when Canada was seeking immigrants to populate its vast expanse and offered the Dutch free passage and $50 (the equivalent of about $500 today) to come and live with them, they jumped at the chance. One of the things they took along with them was their penchant for Borekole, or Stamppot, or simply "Kale" as we children knew it. I have to laugh when I think of all the men - my dad and uncles - who have walked into the house after a day's work, smelled the stamppot cooking, and with a hearty bellow expressed their approval, "Mmmmm, borekole!" It has to come deep from within your diaphragm to achieve the proper manliness effect.  

Rotterdam after German Bombing
You have to understand the times to understand the attachment to borekole. My family came from Friesland, a northern farming province of Holland. Compared to the rest of the Netherlands, they were relatively well off. My dad, for example, was able to forage for wild eggs and catch eels in the canals and my mom told me they were never reduced to eating tulip bulbs during the "starvation years." However, when I attended university, one of my professors was also a Dutch Immigrant of the same generation, and he told me that while growing up in Rotterdam during the war, he remembers going into the alley to pull the lids off of garbage cans, run his finger around the rim, and lick it clean just to get the flavour of food. In fact, after the war ended, those same children were billeted out enmasse to the farmlands of regions like Friesland for a few months to "fatten them up." It was in this way that my mom gained a younger foster brother who had been orphaned during the war. 

Needless to say, borekole was one of the foods that "got them through it." It is easy to grow, simple to make, and sticks to your belly, making you feel "full." Did I mention it's healthy for you too? They ate a lot of it, although the recipe I am showing you today includes some variations, like mayonaise and farmer's sausage. Back then, they used vinegar and had no meat - even after the war, "meat" was a once a week thing. You didn't miss dinner on "meat night."

So, since I am growing kale on the balcony, I invited my mother over to show me how to make kale "the Dutch Way." I felt kinda bad inviting my mom over to dinner and asking her to cook, but I felt even worse when she brought along the potatoes and the farmer's sausage. Ah! Moms! What would we do without them, eh? There she is, giving the cook's salute!
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The Chef & The Ingredients
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So, anyway, onto our recipe for Dutch Kale.

Here are the ingredients and directions for the recipe we used (Serves 3-4):

6-7 Potatoes
2 x Farmer Sausage
1/4lb Butter
Gravy Mix
2 Bunches of Kale (a bunch of kale is approximately 130grams, or 4.5 ounces - and has 33 calories per 67 grams, making each bunch around 64 calories)

Step One - Peel the potatoes and put them into a large pot.
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Step Two - Add the kale on top of the potatoes
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Step Three - Add the sausage on top of the kale - be sure to poke some holes in the sausage so it doesn't burst.
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Step Four - Add water and bring to a boil over high heat. Let it cook for around 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
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Step Five - Remove the sausages and drain the water, then add the butter and gravy.
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Step Six - Mash it all up! Did you really need to ask why it is nicknamed "stamppot"?  Ah, the Dutch. They're a pretty industrious people - but they suck at making up names. 
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"Stamp da pot, jonge! Stamp! Stamp! Stamp! In dat pot over der! Nowwa, what-a shoulda we call-a dis ting? Hmmmm... wait a minute... I got it... how 'bout Stamp-Pot!?!"
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"Eet Smakelijk" (Pronounced "Ate Smack-a-lick," which means "Eat Heartily" in Dutch - it's something you wish to the others around the table after you've finished saying grace).
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As you can see, the son of a landed immigrant now adds copious amounts of mayonnaise to the dish, although in the old days - and for those watching their calories - sprinkling vinegar on top is the traditional way to season it to taste.

So there you have it. It's easy to grow, easy to make, and as an added bonus, you've cooked it all in one pot so it's easy to clean up afterwards too. This was probably considered "fast food" before the invention of the microwave. 

For those of you preppers out there, this is a great recipe to file away. It helped many of the Dutch get through some pretty dire times, after all.

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Related Posts:
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Tips for Growing Kale
Man With A Pan Recipe List 
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