Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

June 19, 2011

The joy of brussels sprouts #eqnz

Tonight’s brussels sprouts cook-off was planned even before Kim and I watched “Julie & Julia” last night.

They’re a love them or hate them vegetable, no apologies for that. We both love them. They’re in season. It was a now or never moment and so a bag of the little darlings came home with me when I shopped as if for the apocalypse today.

It’s not the way I used to shop. When St Martins New World existed at the end of the street, I’d visit at least four times a week (and the kids would often sneak out after dinner if it wasn’t to their taste and do the same). Since February that supermarket is now a begin-again work in progress. Supermarket shopping which used to be so easy is now very limited. I have my own self imposed car park issues. We are mostly a one car family, so I won’t use car park buildings until I’m certain our car is not going to get trapped in one. That usually rules out Countdown on Colombo, and leaves me with the Countdown on Moorhouse or New World South City. (I’ve discovered New World at Northwood too, handy if I go for a run at McLeans, which is now my substitute for a run from my back door up through Rapaki Track to the Summit Road – all off limits at the moment – rock fall I’m over you we want our hills back.

I have to plan our meals. Sometimes menus are done on a weekly basis. This time I’ve done the big catchup that involves dried and tinned foods and cleaning stuff because my diary tells me the next fortnight will offer zero time for shopping. Two weeks where everything comes at once. Council, CCHL, Community Board, Central City Plan, briefings, filming, recording, teleconferences, family, friends, dog, exercise – and based on what I’m reading in the media I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get some announcements in the next week or two that could take what’s in my diary and throw it out the window. There is no such thing as a steady state anymore.

As supermarket shopping has become a rare event, the  Sunday night family dinner has become more routine. Tonight was roast chicken, crispy roast potatoes, carrots, and two kinds of brussels sprouts for the brassica grand prix.

Kim’s sprouts were lightly broiled, then sauteed in what has come to be known as “buttery goodness”, with lashings of salt to add health giving properties. Mine were steamed (Kim alleges irradiated) in the microwave, with fresh lemon juice, black pepper – and significant quantities of healthy tasty cheese on top.

We were five at the table. The deciding vote on whose sprouts were superior belonged to my son Nick. His loyalty was unswerving. He preferred mine. (It was at that point I counted what was on his plate and discovered he’d tried neither batch.) My honesty prevailed – although mine were exceptional, Kim’s were quite simply magical. I was beaten by butter – and the better cook.

Thank heavens for the 12 k run today and the salsa class tomorrow night – and there is now  a thought of joining a gym this week or the sudden surge of winter comfort eating is going to end with me discovering where I left all that weight I lost at the start of the year. No matter how amazing the Phantom Billstickers poetry launch was on Friday night or how energizing the council papers I read during the weekend, there’s a very simple law of biochemics which says if you eat more than you burn, your clothes shrink in the wardrobe. And Kim’s brussels sprouts were so full of buttery goodness and tender loving care I can hear my posh frock downsizing from here.



  1. Have you not tried the joy that is roasted brussels sprouts?? Toss them in a pan in a hot oven for 20minutes, with a bit of olive oil thrown on top, then turn them and roast for other 10 minutes or so. Delicious nutty goodness not ever resembling nan’s mushy brussells sprouts. Trust me. And enjoy with a bit of salt tossed on top.

    Comment by Annie Lillian-Siegrist — June 19, 2011 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  2. I read somewhere recently that loathing of brussels sprouts is hereditary – about 25% of us have a gene which results in them tasting extra bitter (which explains why those who loathe can’t understand how we can love something that tastes so foul). Fortunately our family loves them (Mr 4 isn’t quite convinced yet, although he generally likes his veges).

    Comment by Richard Grevers — June 20, 2011 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

  3. Well I’m sad to report that Kim’s recipe did not go down w

    Comment by rachel_a — June 20, 2011 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  4. Sue, when you try Annie’s recipe add almond slices……yum!

    Comment by Martin Fraser-Allen — June 20, 2011 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  5. Well I’m sad to report that Kim’s “buttery goodness” recipe did not go down well with tonight’s dinner guest (who shall remain nameless) and he has now proclaimed publicly that “brussels sprouts are the work of the devil”

    Comment by rachel_a — June 20, 2011 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

    • Kim is mortified that his impeccable recipe has clearly been given a rough do. Did you, he enquires only slightly pedantically, trim and boil the little darlings until soft? Plunge them into ice water to cool and maintain their colour? Halve them lengthways and sautée quickly in buttery goodness, seasoning with ground pepper and salt while cooking before serving them immediately with a glass of Riesling and a kiss for your dinner companion? He would welcome the opportunity to exorcise the ill held beliefs of your clearly deluded dinner guest. 🙂

      Comment by Sue Wells — June 20, 2011 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

      • I’d say fairly close to all of the above – and I hand selected the smallest sprouts. Personally, I thought they were delicious. Perhaps there is truth in the theory of heredity? Or simply no accounting for taste

        Comment by rachel_a — June 21, 2011 @ 1:23 am

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