Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Am Thankful For....

Top part of the beautiful plant-looks like cabbage

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 and the meal that we are about to enjoy on this Thursday the 24th day of November.

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  this time of year. They are in season so are at their peak.

I grew some for the first time this year. They were planted to late in the growing season so they are to immature to be eaten. However watching them grow was something I appreciated. They are a beautiful plant.  About 6 inches tall 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.

The stalk that grows out of the ground

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  we appreciate food much more when we know where it comes from. 
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 has meaning to me. Hence, I take better care in it's preparation. I have a respect because I know the grower. There is a human attached to it.

Even though my Brussel Sprouts will not be adorning the Thanksgiving table I will use the leaves as garnish around my Turkey. Also part of the top can be used in a floral arrangement. I love combining flowers with vegetables.

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.

little cabbage like sprouts grow along the spine

Brussel sprouts 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 this Thanksgiving 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.

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the US

mother earth

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