Saturday, October 1, 2016

Of Halloween, Football, and Brussel Sprouts

Today is Saturday and it is the first day,officially, of Halloween. Okay, it is the first day of October, but I am a total Horror junkie. Books, movies, stories, and the Monster Mash. You name it. My life long love affair with all things spooky began long ago. Watching the Friday Night Frights on channel 17. I remember being super excited when The House of Frankenstein was going to be shown. It was going to be awesome! It had all the great monsters in it! The fact The House of Frankenstein was not very good, and I gave up in complete disappointment before it was through, did not diminish my love of Horror.

The temperatures outside have dropped considerably and night time carries that hint of something more than just cool coming. The leaves have begun to turn and fall in an undeniable fashion if not quite in earnest yet. Soon the mountains north of here will burst into cool flame. The sorghum has already come in and we have laid in our supply for the year. We didn't forget the honey either, we are well supplied with local grown, raw sourwood gold from North Georgia. It won't be very long now until it is cool enough for burning and the air is going to be filled with the smell of burning leaves.

For all these things and more I am glad to see October 1st. Of course, fall also means football. Yes, football really started a while back. In the summer. While that is football, it really isn't football. For one thing I never watch exhibition games. What's the point? Nothing is at stake and a lot of the players you see then won't make the cut. Besides, as far as I am concerned, other than the Falcons, pro football just isn't that exciting until the wild card games begin. Wild card games are always the best of the year. It typically goes down hill from there until you finally get to the Stupor Bowl. I do love college football. Especially those games that have real meaning regardless of rankings. Ohio vs. Ohio State. Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. For me, football really begins when the night time air gets really cool, almost crisp. Maybe that is because so many of my best memories of high school come from going to cold games, wearing fall clothes, feeling the swirl of cold wind. Or playing tag football with friends with the crunch of leaves under foot. That, to me, is football.

One other thing Fall means to me is food. When cooler weather comes it is time to say goodbye to summer eats. Time to savor the last of the local grown tomatoes, banana peppers, and other fresh veggies. It is time to start thinking about squashes, pumpkin pie, chili, soups, and all those things best eaten piping hot on cold days. Time to start thinking comfort food.

So, now we finally get to brussel sprouts. From time to time I make up my own recipes, usually based upon things I have seen. I throw things together and see what happens. This is one of those times. It really does look and smell delicious. What you see here is the trial batch. We have an upcoming spaghetti dinner at my in laws house. I intend to make this in a larger version for the occasion. It is a very special occasion for me. I get to see my step grandson for the very first time. For this reason, plus the fact I love my in laws very much, I want to make something unique, something special, something that is my own creation.
If you are interested in trying this, here is the recipe.
  • About two dozen brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed, and halved
  • 6 to 8 artichoke hearts, canned or fresh, halved
  • One dozen or so roasted garlic cloves
  • A generous amount of salt
  • Balsamic honey glaze
  • Grated parmesan cheese
I arranged the artichoke hearts around a 12" pie pan, then filled with the brussel sprouts. Scatter the roasted garlic over the top, salt generously, then pore the glaze over everything. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or so. Make sure the sprout get done. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. The balsamic glaze is about 1/ 2 cup of vinegar, 1/8 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup of honey. Mix and simmer over low heat until reduced in volume by half.
You can reduce the baking time by parboiling the sprouts for five minutes or so before hand.
The roasted garlic is also easy to make and is really delicious by itself. I separated the cloves, pealed the paper like shell off, sealed in aluminum foil with olive oil. Bake at 350° to 400° for about 30 minutes. After they cool off the shell is easily pealed off. Eat whole or use in other dishes whole or crushed. The garlic does caramelize and has a sweet and smokey taste.

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