Brussels Sprouts: Nay...or Yay?

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By Deb Quantock McCarey

Contributing reporter/Gardening blogger

I've heard that people either love or hate Brussels sprouts.

Until now, I hadn't been a fan of them, even though I had never tried to eat one.

Not liking Brussels sprouts, regardless if they are roasted, caramelized, grilled or whatever, just seemed like the right thing to do.  Probably forever, I assumed, even though many of my gardening friends glorified Brussels sprouts, especially homegrown ones.  They say they are not bitter or mushy -- or in any way nasty tasting. Instead, if picked punctually and prepared right they are sumptuously delicate in taste and texture.  They are also abundant in Vitamin C, low in sodium and fat content, naturally high in fiber and are said to contain sulforaphane, a chemical hat is thought to possess anti-cancer properties.   

That's probably why other foodies I don't know are saying that Brussels sprouts are one of the so-called "world's healthiest foods."

Really?  So what.  My mind was made up.

Brussels sprouts. Blech.

For me, the under-celebrated "little cabbage" was in the same league as the dreaded once-a-week liver I always drenched with catsup as a kid, just to eat it, and the stringy, slimy spinach my good-intentioned Mom poured out of a can and called dinner.

That stuff I never could slide past my tongue without a gag reflex.

All that fueled my disinterest for the veggie I knew so little about.

But then, in part because of this Oak Park urban farmer and his impressive backyard garden, I decided to grow Brussels sprouts this cool season, tucked away with the kale, beets and Swiss chard.

So this week, with the first frost behind me, these perky vegetables are the last of our seed-to-table produce to be harvested from my edible garden.

What I know now is that homegrown Brussels sprouts, if picked when young and small, and cooked while still fresh and tender, have a sweet, nutty flavor I do actually enjoy.

But, do I love 'em enough to navigate a new culinary tradition --a side dish that could take just left of center stage at Thanksgiving dinner?

Well, no.  We gobbled up all of our homegrown ones, and don't plan to buy more.

But good golly do I ever feel like a turkey for doing that, and not this:  a side dish called Bumped Up Brussels Sprouts.  I have never tried this one either, but it sure sounds and looks yummy.

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