Sometimes we write recipes, and sometimes recipes just write themselves. This is one of those recipes.
It was October 30th, the day after Hurricane Sandy hit, and I was at my wits end. My home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn had power, my family was out of harms way, but I was still having a hard time coping. My toddler was spiking a fever and my older kids were at each other’s throat. It was their third consecutive day home from school and they’d played their fill of iPod matching games, drawn enough pictures to cover the refrigerator, and baked enough cupcakes to feed all the kids in the neighborhood. With several snack breaks, our supplies were running scarce and I stared into the refrigerator wondering what on earth to make for dinner.
Rummaging through the half-empty shelves, I spotted the lonely package of brussel sprouts that I had purchased days before. It had been relegated to the back of the fridge with a bag of red grapes, also past their prime.
Without much ado, I sorted through the grapes and sprouts, picking out the best of the bunch. I chopped them up, not giving much thought as to what I was doing. I drizzled some olive oil, hit it with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and topped it all off with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. I had no idea how my dish would turn out and I had no intention of writing about it. Until it came out of the oven. I sampled a bite, the caramelized grapes dancing on my tongue. The sprouts were even better, their crunchy leaves coated in a sweet glaze.
I knew I had to blog about this afterthought-turned-brussel-sprout-euphoria, so I pulled out my green leaf dish (to complement the green leafy sprouts) and grabbed for my camera. I looked outside my window for light but all there was, was gloom. Tray in hand, I walked out my back door to see wet, sodden leaves covering every inch of my yard. I set my tray amongst the leaves, looking around at the beautiful bed of green, debris haphazardly strewn all around me. Here I was, wondering how to photograph my dish with dark stormy skies overhead, while mere miles away peoples’ homes had been washed away by flooding waters. How lucky I was to walk back into my warm, cozy home, with my sink full of dirty dishes and my playroom scattered with toys. How silly I was to complain about the endless hours of activities I’d had to plan, or how I couldn’t get my kids to stop fighting. My family was safe. Our home was spared. And we even had power.
I set my tray of brussel sprouts on the table, and sat down to dinner with my husband and children. We ate leftover chicken and freshly-cooked rice, passing around the sprouts for a healthy side of nontraditional greens. Not surprisingly, my kids passed them up, but I relished each and every bite. We talked about the storm, and the devastation it caused to so many. We shared how thankful we felt to be together, safe and sound, relatively untouched by the destruction surrounding us.
It wasn’t thanksgiving, but we had so much to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving Brussel Sprouts
1 lb. brussel sprouts, outer leaves removed, stems trimmed, quartered
10 oz. (about 2 cups) seedless red grapes, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sprouts and grapes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat. Roast for approximately 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized.
Variation: for a festive flair, add fresh herbs and/or chopped nuts.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Chanie Apfelbaum runs the popular kosher cooking blog BusyinBrooklyn. When she’s not busy caring for her little ones, Chanie blogs about her cooking, crafting and coping adventures. She combines her love of writing, photography and design to bring you original dishes and crafts that your whole family will enjoy