This Thanksgiving, Laura Bednarski was thankful for Brussel Sprouts.
By Laura Bednarski
I am thankful for……
So hard to finish this sentence because there is truly so much to be thankful for. Even though our country is in a recession and the news has not been the brightest worldwide.
Every end of November our thoughts go to turkey, pie, stuffing, football, whose house we are traveling to or not traveling to. Everything focuses on food.
We think back to the meals we grew up having and we remember funny things that happened in years past. Don’t even get my husband going on this one. He would be happy to talk about the year the tablecloth was set on fire by a relative who placed a bouquet of flowers down on the table next to the tapered candles.
Ah yes memories. We remember the meals from the past. Who could forget the canned cranberries that no one ate. The green bean casserole with the canned onions on top. The pumpkin pie that was a little rubbery. That was then this is now. Today I cook the meal. I do traditional foods with a gourmet twist.
I am thankful for Brussel sprouts. These beauties are a vegetable that I serve at this time of year. The main reason is they are in season so they are at their peak.
I grew some for the first time this year. They were planted too late and too immature to be eaten. However watching them grow was something I appreciated. They are a beautiful plant. They were about 6 inches when I planted them. With thick rubbery leaves that just got bigger as the summer progressed. As they grew the stalk got thicker and little sprouts started growing along the stalk as it protruded out of the ground. It looks like a spine to me with the sprouts being vertebrae.
I have many loves and two of my biggest are photography and cooking. So combining the two is a dream come true. When I photograph food, I get very personal with it. I look at what I am photographing and think about what makes it special. For me the light coming through the leaves was beautiful. The way it outlined the veins. When I pulled the plant from the ground it was spectacular. The weight of it and its purpose was apparent. It was not fragile in any way. Each little sprout was like a work of art. Each leaf resting on the next so tightly and compactly.
I think as home cooks when you appreciate food and where it comes from you are better at preparing it.
When you go to the store and get produce all sanitarily wrapped in plastic to me it has no feeling. When I pull a plant out of the ground or go to the farmers market that food means more to me. Hence, I take better care in preparation. I have a respect because I know the grower. There is a human attached to it.
Even though my Brussel Sprouts didn’t adorn the Thanksgiving table I used the leaves as garnish around my Turkey.
Cooking Brussel sprouts is not hard. For successful preparation first they need to be in season. Any vegetable that is not fresh will not be good no matter what you do to it. Next they tend to be tough. What I have learned is to make an “X” in the bottom of the stem with a sharp knife. Also trim off the end of the stem to open up the cells. This will insure even cooking. I like to steam my sprouts in a double boiler. If you have sprouts of different size obviously the smaller ones will cook quicker. Just do a knife test. I simply season with fresh salt and pepper.
A quick do ahead method is to steam them the day before serving. Place in a container covered in the refrigerator. When ready to serve. Cut in half and sauté with butter or extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Or try this recipe by Ina Garten one of my favorite chefs. I have been making her recipes for years and they work.
Be sure to think about where your food came from. It was grown with love by someone and we need to be Thankful to them for getting it to our table.