I've been reading the memoir The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Have you read her stuff? Her first book, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry is one of my all-time favorite memoirs. When I first read it (and I've read it a lot), I was working for a small, struggling private school, and I had this epiphany to write a memoir about how this school came back from the brink. I was going to journal the whole year and bring all the amazing personalities of that place to the printed page. And then my astonishing success would bring untold riches to the school and pull it back from the brink. Well, that year didn't turn out at all like I expected. The little school is trucking along quite nicely, we're no longer there, and my dreams of a memoir died.
I still love the book. Who knows, maybe I'll still write a memoir someday. Writing like this, and taking pictures suits me just fine.
In Kitchen Counter Cooking School Flinn uses the skills she learned at Le Cordon Bleu to help average folk (like you and me!) learn their way around a kitchen. She teaches them shopping basics, knife skills and simple recipes to bring them away from processed and fast foods and back to good, simple, healthy cooking in the kitchen. I always like books that secretly make me want to be a better me. Self-help books not so much, but books that subtly show me a way to be. That's nice. Flinn's books are good like that. She talks about how differently the French shop from Americans, and I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Hitting the stores nearly every day. Smaller fridges. Fresher food, less meat. You know what I'm saying.
Honestly, I'd love to shop like this. I should shop like this, and there's no reason why I can't. I have flexibility and time (sort of). It's routine and laziness (I guess) that holds me back. I'm used to mapping out our meals for the week and doing a big weekend shop (Neel and Callum need a Saturday hoagie, you know.). It would take a major alteration of my system and routine to re-tool the way we eat, but I think I could do it. Couldn't I? How do you shop? Are any of you more successful at the small-stop shopping that I am? What are your tips? I have a lot to learn, but I'd love to try to learn how to do it. I guess I need to keep reading.
I've been doing better on the side dishes, as per my resolutions. Poor Callum hates brussels sprouts. Neel has always liked them, and I've just discovered that I do. I can't fault Cal, nor can I complain. He lists two items among those that he won't eat. Only two. Mushrooms and brussels. I have faith that he'll grow out of hating both. We'd been making brussels around here this fall, but very rarely. I think Remedial Eating had the first recipe I tried. Braised. With bacon. Bacon. How bad could they be?
My friend Seamane introduced us to her way of preparing brussels when we spent Thanksgiving with them, and it pretty much trumped mine. As simple as you can make them. Minus the bacon.
Halve your brussels or quarter the big ones and spray a cookie sheet with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pop 'em in an oven. I think I do it around 350 degrees for awhile. Until they turn brown and crispy. Crispy is important because who wants slimy brussels? That's the whole problem with brussels in the first place. Seamane serves them with balsalmic to dip and that's pretty awesome, but I'm thinking some bacon would be pretty awesome too.
One quick note. Many of you know and enjoy my friend Mark from his comments here on my blog. He and his partner Fred and their family mean the world to us and they have a very big day ahead of them today. If you have a second, please pop over to his blog and show him some support.