Monday, October 22, 2007

Recipe and Life: In Review

When I was a kid I was vegetable-adverse, especially not a fan of the cruciferous vegetables and in particular cabbage and anything that resembles cabbage.

In 1980, I begged my parents to let me go to a Southern Baptist Vacation Bible School Sleep Away Camp for two weeks. Not because I loved Jesus, but because I loved horses. My parents waffled--my father is atheist, my mother was raised Lutheran, and we certainly weren't regulars at any religious institution. The Southern Baptist Church is pretty radical but I didn't know any of this at the age of eight. All I knew was that I was in love with the bay-colored colt in the four-foot tall poster above my bed.

Service every morning and bible study in the afternoons? Check. Wednesday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning service? Okay. Memorizing the books of the Old and New Testament? No problem. Horseback riding? Sign me up! That's right, the Southern Baptist Church lured me to Jesus with horseback riding.

The rest of my daily camp experience outside of the 10 minutes leading up to horseback riding and the 30 minutes of horseback riding was drudgery, including the food (the horseback riding wasn't that magical, either, it was more like a 30 minute tug of war with a horse hell-bent on eating every sliver of grass in sight). In my house, I was given the freedom to make my own food choices. At Southern Baptist Vacation Bible School Sleep Away Camp, you had to a) take a little of everything, with "a little" defined by the hair-netted woman wielding the spoon and b) clean your plate before you were allowed to leave the table.

So it was that I found myself alone in the cafeteria of Southern Baptist Vacation Bible School Sleep Away Camp, staring down a pile of boiled cabbage through watery eyes. I think I was a pretty dutiful child, and I remember feeling infuriated that I was being forced to do something against my will. I had three options before me: eat the cabbage, no, no, two options, efforts at eating the cabbage had already resulted in violent gagging. So I had two options before me: sit there indefinitely or stuff the cabbage surreptitiously into my empty milk carton. Not wanting to compromise my moral fiber, I tried the first for what seemed like an eternity, thinking I could wait it out. Awed by my sense of conviction, the Southern Baptist cafeteria ladies would acquiesce to letting me leave the table and my cabbage.

Not so. Eventually, I chewed bites of cabbage and spit them into my empty milk carton during faked sips. I hated to do it, but I hated the act of eating boiled cabbage even more. When I finally got to tell this story of injustice to my family, naturally, they responded with side-splitting laughter and overwhelming support by offering to serve boiled cabbage at every meal. To this day, they
still think this is an excellent joke.

It appears that the experience had a narrow area of impact, limited only to boiled vegetables. These days, I will enjoy a quality cole slaw, broccoli or cauliflower in anything, and have even forayed into brussels sprouts which are essentially baby cabbages. I'm also a sucker for anything caramelized; onions, shallots, garlic, it doesn't matter. I think adding these ingredients to any dish lends an earthy sophistication.

I made the recipe below last night for dinner and it was, as Jon said, "definitely a keeper!" I modified the recipe slightly, cutting down on the added butter and oil (the original called for 6 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons oil). Photo and recipe courtesy of Con Poulos and Bon Apetit, respectively.

Brussels Sprout Hash with Carmelized Shallots

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 cup water

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add
shallots; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until
soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until
brown and glazed, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl or plate. Do not
clean skillet.

Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch)
slices. Add 1 tablespoon butter to shallot skillet and heat over
medium-high heat. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté
until brown at edges, 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon
butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender
but still bright green, 3 minutes. Add shallots; season with salt and


Anonymous said...

Do you eat regular cabbage now or just brussel sprouts? I never served brussel sprouts at home, as I hate

jer said...

at 34, brussel sprouts still taste how farts smell.

ever seen the leave it to beaver where the beav refuses to eat his brussel sprouts?, that beaver is a rebel i tell you, starting the revolution one brussel sprout at a time. viva la sprout revolution.

goodgreekgirl said...

i heart brussel sprouts and this dish sounds delish. thank you for sharing. i will pick up the ingredients on my next grocery trip. have you tried stuffing cabbage yet? i made a fantastic peanut butter chicken last week with udon noodles and sauteed broccoli. the change in seasons always makes me extra hungry! xoxo

Kate said...

I don't eat cooked cabbage (yet?), but I do like raw cabbage in small amounts.

Jer, your farts must smell awfully sweet.

ggg, I need a recipe for stuffed cabbage and that peanut butter chicken dish sounds great. Send it all my way!

jer said...

don't you know it.