New year, new me, blah, blah, Brussels sprouts

Time to get re-revved. I’ve rejoined the YMCA after 6 years away. I can walk on the treadmill, do weight circuits, take water aerobics, spin and zumba classes, swim laps. If only it weren’t so much easier to lie in the recliner, read novels (ooh, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior) and eat leftover Christmas candy!

birthdays 030
Birthday girl and fairy godmother.

Christmas around here really isn’t over until our middle daughter’s Groundhog Day birthday. Between Christmas and then we have 3 others — Vlad the Plaid’s, Dora the Explorer’s and middle daughter’s daughter’s — so it seems like a six-week present spree. With presents, of course, come cake and ice cream.

Actually, the best birthday meal we’ve had in forever was Dora’s fairy godmother’s birthday supper for her and Vlad at New Town Bistro in Winston-Salem. This is a modestly priced, pleasant little place our dentist recommended (!) as his and his wife’s go-to restaurant.  The food is consistently good and imaginative (although we still can’t figure out why the apple-chicken sausage with Vlad’s pork tenderloin), and the menu changes just enough to give it an atmosphere of adventure. The desserts are OK, but the emphasis is on meats and fish and vegetables. The basil-sprinkled sweet corn,  thumb-fat stalks of roasted asparagus, tender spring-green slices of fried squash, sautéed mushrooms with the sweet tang of red wine, Brussels sprouts with walnuts.

Now my daughters and I belong to a small but loyal cadre of Brussels sprouts fans. We’ve loved them since before they were trendy, since my mother cooked them only until tender-crunchy and served them only with a dab of mustard and a squirt of lemon juice.

Love sprouts but not cilantro which is in original Food Network recipe. I omitted.
Love sprouts but not cilantro which is in original Food Network recipe. I omitted. Photo: Christopher Testani.

Even before New Town, He Who Does Not Like B.S.  brought in a bag of baby sprouts from his winter garden. They were a pretty jade and closed as tightly as a sleeping newborn’s fists. I X’d their tender stems, sliced them in half and soaked them in salt water to discourage hitchhiking insects, patted them dry and oven-roasted them, using this Food Network magazine recipe. Even He said they were “interesting.”

Roasted garlic Brussels sprouts

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; add 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon each cumin seeds and kosher salt and cook 2 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Toss with 1-1/4 pounds halved Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Roast at 450 ° until tender, 18 to 24 minutes. Toss every few minutes but not so often you don’t get the little crispy bits which are the best part of this dish.

I can’t tell you how many servings this makes because 3 of us polished it off with seconds. We like our sprouts!

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