Sprout Me Up

September 15, 2010 at 12:05 am (Uncategorized)

I have finally done almost as much as I can do about clearing out the files – what remains is finishing off my tax returns of the last two years (yes, as a matter of fact I did abandon this task months ago at the halfway mark, thanks for asking), and figuring out exactly where to house one archive box and my portfolios of published work, which are too big for the cupboards that run across the bottom of the book unit (yes, not only is there a void, but there’s a bank of storage too).  Everything else is Llew’s to go through – a couple of boxes from his parents’ place that may well head straight back there at this rate. It’s been truly exhausting sorting through it all. One would think it a rather mindless task, and not tiring at all, but personally I’ve found the opposite is true. I am so glad to be nearly out from underneath it.

I have kept the court documents, but for purely practical purposes (the retired researcher in me, no doubt). There’s a chance – slim but undeniable – that I may one day wish to write something about that particular experience, and in that event, these records will be worth their weight and bulk. On that basis, a stay of execution was in order.

I have a pile of articles and literary supplements sitting to my right that were saved for later, only later never came. All that’s about to change, though, as on Friday Llew and I start our Babymoon Staycation. This coming Sunday marks the sixth month of the pregnancy, as well as my 38th birthday, so it seemed a good time to stop, catch our breath, and grab some much-needed r & r & r (rest, relaxation, and reading) time together before we start the downhill run.  I’m yet to fix on my fiction choices, but plan to spend quite a bit of time with my feet up and a book in my hand. I’ll probably take a blogging break, too, but that’s a decision for another day. Let’s hope the weather improves – yesterday was vile.

I also wanted to mention last night’s unexpected culinary success. As I said, the weather was putrid, so I didn’t at all fancy heading off to shop for any ingredients not already to hand. This brought me to the broad beans and brussels sprouts we bought at the weekend farmers’ market, patiently, greenly sitting in the crisper while I tried to figure out what to do with them. You should understand these were the very first brussels sprouts I’d ever purchased. I have avoided them throughout my adult life, having been too scarred by childhood memories of them boiled to the point of no return. They used to make me gag. Then our friend R served them at a roast beef lunch last year – his special recipe – and for the first time I began to believe the persistent rumours that sprouts didn’t have to be spew. R’s were very tasty – I might have even had seconds. This was a major turning point.

When we saw the sprouts at the markets – and they were very fetching little numbers – we both thought the same thing. Maybe if they were nice once, they could be good again. Maybe we should reach out to the much maligned brussels sprout and invite a bag home. Maybe we could be foodie friends after all. It was worth a shot.

Because this was to be a pantry/crisper special, it quickly became obvious I’d be doing my sprouts in pasta, whereas R served his as a side accompaniment with the roast beef and Yorkshire puds (yes, he made Yorkshire puddings from scratch – how good is that?!). And after taking an internet recipe as my starting point, here’s what I did:

Boiled a big pot of water for the penne pasta.

Peeled the outer leaves of the sprouts and trimmed the stems, then sliced them.

Sliced a bulb of garlic. Yes, a bulb – a small bulb, but still, why muck around?

Shelled my broad beans.

Grated my Romano cheese

Beat two free-range eggs, which I then mixed with about two-thirds of the cheese.

Juiced a lime.

I also used olive oil, chilli flakes, salt and pepper, and light sour cream.

After putting the penne in the pot to cook, I heated some olive oil in the wok before adding the garlic and a whack of chilli flakes. Once that started smelling delicious and sizzling away, I added the sliced sprouts and broad beans. I liberally seasoned this mix, then after a couple of minutes, I added the lime-juice. I still wanted the beans and sprouts to have some crunch, so I turned off the heat once the sprout slices had wilted.

Once my penne was cooked and drained, I stirred through a decent spoonful of light sour cream to coat the pasta. I do this because I’ve found in the past – with carbonara, primarily – that it’s simply too hot for the egg and cheese mixture otherwise, which promptly curdles. This little trick works extremely well – you don’t need much, and it cools it down just enough so that when you do add the egg and cheese, which is the very next step, all is well. Once that was really well mixed through, I added my sprout, bean and garlic combo and gave it all a good stir. Then I served it, adding just a little more seasoning and sprinkling the reserved cheese on top. And I have to say, it tasted absolutely beaut. Llew kept exclaiming, “Yum! This is fucking delicious!” right throughout the meal, and neither one of us could quite get over it. It was true, and that made for a very pleasant surprise indeed.



  1. litlove said,

    Sounds wonderful! Bacon, crisped, makes a very good, simple accompaniment to sprouts. And yorkshire puds are easy – you could do them no trouble at all. It’s simply batter, and make sure the fat is really hot before you pour it into the tin/tray/whatever.

    Six months already! Wow, how that time has shot by. I definitely encourage you towards some quiet Llew time before the baby arrives. If I had my time over, I’d have thrashed out with Mister Litlove lots of things about how we were going to parent our baby. A conversation in the lovely, quiet, sweet anticipation of birth would have been much better than in the chaos that comes after it! But just enjoying your last bit of time as a couple before beooming a family is a very precious thing.

    • doctordi said,

      Maybe it’s shot by for you, LL, but I can assure you that the pace is positively excruciating from where I’m sitting – I’m finding this forty week countdown INTERMINABLE!!! You know, I wonder what sort of thrashing you can really do before what is to me a completely unimaginable event. I really want to enjoy just being a couple with Llew before we become three, but that’s about all I want out of our time off.

      Parenting pledges seem mighty contingent from here, so I don’t think either of us plans to bother much with them – I can see that during the chaos we may look back longingly at this period right now and rue not laying ground rules or whatever, but that’s the whole trouble with hindsight. It’s such a dirty tease.

  2. doctordi said,

    And yes, I wondered about bacon. If I’d had any swine handy I would have thrown it in for sure!

  3. Norwichrocks said,

    Now, that’s the kind of recipe I can get behind. Salivating over here… and I, too, have always-up-til-recently hated brussel sprouts.

    • doctordi said,

      It’s super tasty, Woo. I couldn’t believe it. Actually, I think the revolting sprouts of my (our?) childhood were straight out of the Colonial Cookbook Australians were certainly still suffering under in the 1970s. I suspect boiling the shit out of vegetables was one of the longest lasting legacies of the British Empire. So glad everyone’s moved on.

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    Brussel sprouts are tricky–good when good and awful when not!

    • doctordi said,

      BLOODY AWFUL when they’re bad, Lilian, let’s face it – really foul tasting! I think erring on undercooking rather than even risking overcooking is the lesson I’m taking away from all this!

  5. Pete said,

    Sounds delicious but from my current vantage point (supper at 5.30pm followed by brunch the next morning at 11am – yes, it is that insane) I can only wave and say “wonderful, enjoy”. And happy birthday and a rejuvenating r&r&r! As for the six months so does this mean that Baby J will be making an appearance in December? (You can reply when you’re back.)

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