Each holiday that my grandmother comes over to my parents’ house I stand in the kitchen with her and my mom and listen to her regale my mother with all the ways she screwed up the meal. “You made too much,” “you made too little,” “why would you add PASTE to the GRAVY,” “you packed the breadcrumb too tightly” and so on and so forth. “You know, this isn’t the way I taught you to make it.” Sure, part of me feels bad for my mom enduring this litany of things she supposedly messed up, but for the most part I’m chuckling in the corner because that’s exactly the same thing she was telling me earlier that day when I was making the food. It’s the circle of life and it ruins us all. (Unless you’re out in the living room just sitting around watching television and asking when are we going to eat.
After living alone for a few years and cooking for myself, I came to realize that I make things better than my mother does. There are just certain things I do better. In the same way that parents always want their children to do better than them financially, I do food better than my mother does it. The holidays kind of highlight this for me. She makes food and I just sit at the table thinking, I coulda done it better! If only I were allowed to touch things unsupervised in the kitchen!
Exhibit A: Brussel Sprouts.
My entire life I thought I hated brussel sprouts. I thought they were disgusting balls of mushy, gross tasting leaves that were either over or undercooked and never appetizing. Then I moved out and looked at magazines and recipes and tried roasting the brussel sprouts. I skipped my mom’s pervasive “just boil it” slogan when it came to vegetables and HOLY SHIT THEY WERE DELICIOUS. I told my mom how I had made brussel sprouts and they’d tasted delicious and her first question was, “did you boil them?” “No. Nothing was boiled.” “But you HAVE to boil them.” “No, mom, turns out you don’t have to boil them.”
Turns out, yes, it might take longer (in inactive time, mind you) but you can roast them in the oven. Set it and forget it, if you will, and guess what? They’re amazing. They’re delicious. You peel apart the leaves and bake them with a little olive oil and salt and they get crunchy like potato chips and it’s just, “Whoa, this is tasty!” And not some insanely unhealthy dish, either, mind you. I’ll even eat them without the added bacon, although let’s be honest the bacon makes it that much more amazing.
So this Thanksgiving, just make sure your brussel sprouts are sliced thinly. Or peel the leaves apart. Add a little olive oil. Add some salt. Bake the shit out of those and you’ll be eating delicious, crunchy green veggies everyone can get behind.