Thursday, August 27, 2015

Food for Sanity

I've found myself in the weirdest Groundhog Day cycle yet: walk kids to school, walk home, make tea, eat, work, work, work, hurry up and shower, hurry up and eat lunch (at 2pm), pick kids up. The end.

I can feel my social skills slipping, as Howard has proven himself to be a loyal companion and top-notch leg warmer, but I'm still not a cat person and he still doesn't laugh at any of my jokes.

On the flip-side, I've been cooking a lot. As a result, my house currently smells like bacon, I made my first (not last) batch of basil simple syrup, I have a pot of from-scratch pizza sauce simmering, I've boiled over a saucepan of milk twice in three days, and I walked around most of yesterday afternoon with a splash of pickled red cabbage juice on my chin. (I swear it looked like a beauty mark. Only purple.)

Ah, I've missed my kitchen. (And you.)

The good news is, I have a Shannan-tested, Cory-approved, healthy and delicious recipe for you. The bad news is, it's Brussels sprouts. Again.

It's always, always Brussels sprouts.
And here's why: remember that rumor about Coke and McDonald's french fries containing trace amounts of cocaine to keep people duly obsessed and unashamed? It might also be in the Brussels. Somehow. I haven't bothered myself with the science yet.

All I can tell you is that the more I eat them, the more I want them. And I know it sounds like I'm just being cute or ridiculous, but I can't stress how dead serious I am.

Case in point: my homegirl Lauren met me at a park for lunch back in the Spring. She brought Chipotle from the city, along with a tiny vase of flowers (SO Bread and Jam for Frances - I loved it!) and parting gifts of fancy popcorn and...a container of Whole Foods Brussels sprout and kale salad.

The salad was gone later that evening. Finding more became my singular life's work. Only trouble was, the nearest Whole Foods is 45 minutes away...

I thought about it literally every day. The crunch. The chew. The tang. The sweetness. The nuttiness. Thelemonthedressingthecheeseohmyworrrrd.

When I could no longer curb my cravings, I checked myself into rehab.

And when they told me Brussels sprout addiction isn't on the DSM-5 yet and my insurance probably wouldn't cover it anyway, I found a way to recreate the salad myself.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 large fistfuls of chopped kale, stems removed (about 4 cups) (I usually by pre-chopped from Aldi and cut the big stems off. It doesn't take that long.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the bottoms off your sprouts, then thinly slice (shave) them. I usually cut some horizontally and some perpendicularly for texture, but that might just point back to something unresolved and deeply seated in my psyche. It's not exactly necessary.

Slice your celery, de-stem the kale, mince the garlic, zest and juice the lemons. (This is one of my most used cooking tools.)  The prep-work isn't rocket science and is guaranteed to make you feel more fully human or your money back!

Whisk together your dressing. Lick the whisk, because vinegar + lemon juice? YES PLEASE. Note:
I often double the recipe for the dressing, because 1) What if there's extra kale left when it's all said and done? And 2) My brain is unable to process the concept of "too much of a good thing." Nope. Impossible.

Now, toss it all together. (Start with half the vinaigrette if you doubled it like a good student, and add more from there. I like mine really well-coated.) Give it a stir, and be sure to use plenty of cheese.
It tastes best if you let it sit for a while in the fridge so the veggies can soak up all the flavor. Delish!

Give it a go and I'll love you forever!

I'm hoping to write up a list of some other things that are keeping me sane in this twisty, tumultuous season.

Until then!

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