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Posted on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Signs of Spring: Paczki and kale

By Kim Bayer


Winter kale.

Contributor | Kim Bayer

Over at Zingerman's, it's time to make the donuts as Fat Tuesday leisurely approaches. I heard from Amy Emberling, managing partner at the Bakehouse, that this year for the first time, they're taking orders for paczki — those delicious Polish deep fried dough balls. They'll be filled with flavors including traditional plum and rose hip (mmm!), and also raspberry, vanilla pastry cream and cream cheese.

Of course Copernicus Deli in South Main Market will have paczki too — they bring in thousands, usually from a bakery in Hamtramck. But since it is a religious holiday being observed, I say, we should consider the path of virtue and the many reasons to eat our crucifers.

Crucifer, a name for the cross-shape of their four-petaled flowers, is an older label for the brassicas — which contain the mustard and cabbage family: radishes, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, kohlrabi, cauliflower, rutabaga, arugula and kale. All those things that are so good for you are also among the vegetables that last the longest through the winter (Emily at Eat Close to Home just did a great post on root cellaring), and that show their sweetest nature during the coldest months.

I heard Jeremy Moghtader of the MSU Student Organic Farm say that plants like Brussels sprouts and kale concentrate sugars in their cells during cold weather as a survival strategy. That's why they are best harvested after a frost.

In the fall it has to compete with too many other things, but fresh winter kale, that lonely arctic warrior, makes me ridiculously happy in the coldest months. I do love kale, but I'm no match for my friend (dietician, author and now farmer) Diana Dyer, an incomparable devotee, with her blog called 365 Days of Kale.

In addition to the greens we get in our winter CSA, I love the challenge of getting to the winter farmers' market hoping to be in time for even more hoop house-grown kale. Jonathan Goetz told me that, at Goetz Farm, they grow an especially curly variety in the winter — he thinks that all the additional surface area gives the leaves a better chance at soaking up whatever appears of the winter sun.

In late fall I love making kale chips out of the large strong leaves. Just wash a big bunch, cut into palm-sized pieces, coat with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a tiny bit of salt, then bake in a single layer until crispy, but not brown. This is a better snack than potato chips. And I looooooove potato chips.


Eggs from Community Farm of Ann Arbor.

Contributor | Kim Bayer

But wintertime hoop house kale is smaller and much more tender than any other. I've been eating it for breakfast under a soft fried egg. Lightly sauteed with with a piece of toast on the side, I'm convinced there's nothing better to start the day, or the year.

Now that the days are getting longer it's clear that spring is on its way. Mandy over at Dragonwood Farm says at their place for the past three years, spring has started with three signs: on the same day the maple sap starts flowing and their hens start laying, and soon after the indoor seeds start sprouting. For many of us, Paczki Day is spring's first milestone.

Fat Tuesday is the gateway to spring, and even if you get a paczki, you can also choose the path of sweetness and virtue with a side of kale.

Last Night As I Was Cooking

by Carla Borelli

Last night as I was cooking, I burnt — marvelous error! —
a handful of kale here inside my pan.

I said: Along which secret path, Oh kale, are you coming to me,

kale of a new face that my lips have never touched?

Last night as I was cooking, I burnt — marvelous error! —  

leafy green Brassica inside my pan

And the organosulfur compounds were making sweet

crunchy snacks from my old failures.

Last night as I was eating, I saw — marvelous error! —
That a fiery sun was giving light inside my gut.

It was fiery because I felt warmth as from a hearth,

and sun because it gave light to a new taste that brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I cooked,

I created — marvelous error — a bit of heaven inside my pan.

Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Reach her at


Rex Roof

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

paczki at Copernicus come from windsor. not that it matters. I trust those polish ladies to bring in the best paczki in town. I'm intrigued by the amadeus one, though.


Sat, Feb 26, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

So what are paczki are Zingerman's? $100/dz? Of course, if you want free-range organic paczki, where else are you gonna go? Outsized, overhyped jelly doughnuts, people.


Sat, Feb 26, 2011 : 2:20 a.m.

"Fat Tuesday is the gateway to spring"...what about in 2012 when Fat Tues is February 21st or in 2013 when is occurs on February 10th? Isn't St., Patrick's Day [only 3 days before spring] with green beer and the onslaught of drunken debauchery on the streets of A2 more a sign of spring? This in general was a nice little piece of fluff writing, but still....please don't make statements that are not based in fact, as fact. Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnvial, Fasching and so on, is not now nor ever has been a religious holiday...except to those kneeling at the altar of sugar over-indulgence...jeez loueez...


Sat, Feb 26, 2011 : 3:16 a.m.

Ouch. Maybe step off the high horse and eat a donut.


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

I'm not sure what religious holiday is observed on Tuesday. My grandmother made paczkis for us as our last big splurge before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I do know that my Grams made hers so full they weighed well over a half pound filled with her homade prune, plum and raspberry jams...only thing better was the nalesnikis with fruit and cream cheese on Easter Sunday


Sat, Feb 26, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

@epengar...sorry you didn't see my sarcasm. I was trying to challenge the writer's statement about celebrating a religious holiday I was never aware of. I fully understand Fat Tuesday, and as a Catholic Pole I am cognizant of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, not Tuesday and ends on Holy Thursday according to many.... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

The day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent is widely known as &quot;Fat Tuesday&quot; (Mardi Gras means the same thing) and lots of European cultures (and their descendants) have a feast on that day, or on the days leading up to it (Carnival!) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

'homemade' sorry


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

Dom's Bakery in Ypsilanti (24-hour bakery!!) has some of the best paczki's in town. They are located off of Washtenaw near EMU's campus. They never run out of them.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

A kale-filled Paczki -- what a horrible thought.

Diana Dyer

Sat, Feb 26, 2011 : 2:10 a.m.

Haha! Even I agree with that thought! Diana at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

There is a bakery down in Wyandotte that has some of the best around.


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

Ah, paczki!! I have to agree, it's the first sign of spring! I always get a couple for myself every year. Packed with calories, but it's a once a year treat. So, come on, and bring on Spring! I'm ready for it!

Edward Vielmetti

Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

Arborwiki's Packzi page is more comprehensive than I remember it <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and I wrote a story last year about where to go <a href=""></a> which I am certain will get another go-around this year with the details that have changed.


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Yikes! Zingerman's Bakehouse says they are maxed out and can't take anymore preorders for paczki on Fat Tuesday. Does anyone reccommend other paczki in town or is Copernicus my best bet?


Sat, Feb 26, 2011 : 4:47 a.m.

Dimo's Deli and Donuts, on W. Stadium, across from the post office. Their paczki, sandwiches...sheer gluttony!


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

Amadeus might be of some help.


Fri, Feb 25, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

One food good for the body, the other good for the soul.