Wednesday, December 19, 2012
(Alexi's childhood home in Nova Scotia)
In the dusky light as I drove the boys to school, I passed a biker with a colorful strand of old fashioned, large-bulbed Christmas lights wrapped around his crossbar. I wondered how he got them to light up without being plugged in – batteries? Mostly, I was glad for the unexpected cheer. On my way home, I noticed a tiny patch of snow on the hood of a passing car; someone else’s remnant of the snow we didn’t get in our neighborhood. For a while, I followed a pickup truck pulling a trailer that carried his and hers jet skis labeled ‘T-bone’ and ‘Misty'. Snow closure signs were propped at the ready at the top, middle and bottom of hills.
Back at home, as I thought about these sightings a memory from my college days surfaced. One ordinary spring evening, like so many others, I was out walking in the West Village of Manhattan, where I lived, with my roommate Lucinda and her boyfriend, Chris. I don’t remember our purpose. The night air was warm and it felt good to be out. We passed a gorgeous restaurant with its windows flung open wide, and there was a perfect little patio adjacent to it, completely full of diners. The tables were lit with tea lights, and the twinkly music was punctuated by the low murmurs of conversation and laughter and the quiet clanking of utensils. The scent of garlic wafted out to us on the sidewalk. Chris remarked about the pleasure that must come with being able to eat at a place like that on a Tuesday night, but it was enough just to pause and take it all in.
Back at home this evening, we're daydreaming about snow, and cooking memories into existence. Brussels sprouts are the perfect thing to eat when you’re hoping for colder weather, or dreaming about upcoming holidays, or anytime they’re available and looking good.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
Good Brussels sprouts should feel firm and have tight, shiny-edged leaves. The flavor is best when they’re around an inch in diameter or smaller. I love this method of preparation; the combination of sautéing and roasting creates a tender interior and a crisp exterior, maximizing the flavor of the vegetable.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
5 cloves garlic, peeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Heat the oven to 450F. Put the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, arrange the sprouts in one layer, cut side down. Toss in the garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cook, undisturbed, until the sprouts begin to brown, about 3 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, stir, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings