With Halloween this Saturday, many observe the spooky traditions enjoyed on this evening. One probably overlooked, however, involves a seasonal vegetable received often during the fall months: Kale.
Yes, this trendy salad green was used as a matchmaking tool in historic Scotland and Ireland. October 31 marks the last day of the ancient Celtic calendar. According to ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, the supernatural, including spirits, were free to roam the night and into the morning of November 1. This represented the blurring of lines between this world and the next. Celts believed the presence of these spirits allowed for the Celtic priests to better predict the future. During the festival to ward off bad spirits, the youth would participate in superstitious activities that they believed to bring good fortune and predict their marital statuses. One of these festivities, Pou (Pull) the Stalks, required the young, eligible men and women to uproot kale stalks while blindfolded. After choosing their respective stalks, each stalk would be analyzed to discern information about each participant’s future spouse.
Characteristics of the stalks revealed signs about their future partner. For example, a short and stunted stalk meant the participant’s future spouse would be just that, short and stalky. The flavor, as well, determined the disposition of the potential partner such as bitter or sweet. Moreover, the amount of dirt remaining on the stalk post determined the dowry size one was to expect from their future husband or wife’s family. If the root was clean, poverty was in store.
Today, kale is no longer viewed as a clairvoyant tool that could give websites like Eharmony a run for their money. If you would prefer to eat kale instead of utilizing its predictive powers, here’s a recipe for Colcannon , a traditional kale dish cooked on Hallows’Eve. Remember though, if someone finds a mysterious ring in her food, she will be the next to marry. However, beware of the thimble –this forecasts a life of loneliness. The safest bet may be just to stick with candy.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 25 min.
●4 russet potatoes
●2 Tbsp salt
● 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (extra butter needed for serving)
●3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale
●½ cup of minced green onions (about 3 green onions incl
uding their greens)
●1 cup of milk or cream
1.Place the potatoes in medium pot. Fill the pot with cold water so the potatoes are covered by at least an inch.
2.Add salt and bring to boil. Boil potatoes until tender (15 to 20 minutes.) Drain in the colander.
3. Set pot over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot, adding the greens once hot.
Cook the kale for 3-4 minutes. (The kale should be wilted and given off some of its
4.Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute longer.
5.Pour in the milk or cream and mix well.
6.Add the potatoes. Reduce heat to medium.
7.Mash potatoes with a fork or potato masher, mixing them with the kale.
8.Add more salt for taste if necessary. Serve hot with 1-2 Tbsp of butter in the middle.
Variation: Sub out half of the potatoes for parsnips. Add chives, leeks, or bacon too.
Story from Small Farm Central. This recipe was first published by Simple Recipes
Entitled “The Cromartie Fool”by Richard Waitt, this portrait depicts the jester of a
Scottish laird who presided over Halloween festivities. After men and
women pulled out the stalks of kale, they would make torches out of them by placing candles at the top. This portrait is displayed in the National Galleries of Scotland.