Yesterday, as you probably already noticed, was an officially winter day. The light was sharp, as if to better illuminate the dead bleakness of everything (except kale plants). It was weather designed for hearths which is to say, it was so cold that it seemed a physical imperative that I bake something before my fingers froze off.
The library is a great place to start looking for food to make and ways to make it. Cooking and baking isn’t scary, it’s just another skill learned by practice, and why not start now before some of you go off to college and have your kitchen and relatives-full-of-mental-recipes access taken away from you? Dan, another library employee, just posted on our Eleventh Stack blog about the wonders of being able to check out cookbooks from the library. The library even has programs where you can learn to make actual food – check out the Cook’s Cupboard photos from CLP – Hill District!
However, I’m the first to admit that a book full of recipes can be intimidating. Especially long recipes. Especially this week when faced with such a longstanding food tradition type holiday such as Thanksgiving, where there seems to be so much pressure to do things the Traditional Way.
So I’m going to give you two of my favorite, easiest things to make and share (or not) when the weather does its cruel about face in November. There’s one savory and one sweet.
First: Brussels Sprouts.
Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. After broccoli, it’s probably the most cited green thing that children won’t eat. This could be because… are people still boiling these vegetables? Steaming them to be healthy? Either way, stop it. You’re making Brussels Sprouts look bad. They’re not bad! They’re really cool. They are tiny cabbabges that grow on stalks and as a tiny version of something, it is inherently cute. (Technically, the Brussels Sprout is “the ‘bud’ or small cabbage-like head which grows in the axils of each leaf [of the plant].” – Douglas E. Sanders, UNC)
Just one sprout has 22% of your daily Vitamin C. Which means only 5 sprouts have OVER 100% of your daily Vitamin C. But who cares how many vitamins it has if it doesn’t taste good? I can tell you that they taste good.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Cut sprouts into halves or quarters depending on your personal preferences and time
3. Place in ovenproof pan. This could be a casserole dish or brownie pan.
4. Splash olive oil over the sprouts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Roast for an hour, or until they look like this:
They will be crispy on the outside, tender all the way through, caramely but not sweet.
Are you against olive oil and/or roasting? Do you have a food processor or sharp knife and patience? Then cut them up raw into tiny slivers, cut a tart apple up, squeeze lemon over it, and eat (optional: cheddar cheese and thyme and a little olive oil.)
I got this 2nd option from a cookbook I took out from the library and highly recommend:
Second: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
File baking under Another Thing You Don’t Need to Be Afraid Of. Most basic cookie recipes are this: Mix butter and sugar together. Put in other wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Combine. Bake. The ratios of the ingredients are what makes a chewy, crispy, or cakey cookie.
This one is no exception. It produces cookies that are more like tiny fluffy cakes. I use this recipe from The Food Network, but I use: a little less sugar, a little less chocolate, and a little more pumpkin.
You could put marshmallows into these cookies, and substitute canned sweet potato for pumpkin!
You could also make them vegan!
You could put in dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate!
Yours In Food,
-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty