Love or Loathe

I could be writing about the recent death of Margaret Thatcher couldn’t I? She has managed to divide opinion in life and in death. But this isn’t a political blog, life on the Promenade  is about gardening, growing and eating great food and here’s the parallel, my last post All about Brussels – not the sizeable Belgian City but the vegetable sprouting kind also polarised opinion. From reading the comments left here on the Promenade – you either love or loathe them.

It seems that many of us have suffered the long slow killing of Brussels Sprouts by interminable boiling. Boiling them to the point where they turned a greyish-green, soft and soggy, waterlogged and unpalatable, cooked to the point where they have given up on the will to live. I know my Granny cooked them like that and I bet there are a few of you who can relate to my memories. Why is it that someone can bake the most perfect pastry and pies willingly and knowingly murdered vegetables?

I won’t celebrate the death of anyone, regardless of who they are or what they did. I will however celebrate a life well lived, if that is what I think. So while there are some people holding parties and dancing to “The Witch is Dead” and others are eulogising her, I leave you with the fact that nor will I celebrate boiled to buggery Brussels Sprouts!

Me and Brussels Sprouts have come a long way since then; lightly steamed, sliced and quickly stir-frying them with slivers of ginger, or roasting them in olive oil – but never boiled to a miserable grey soggy death. And of course don’t forget the tops – a meal in themselves – Tip Top Stir Fried Gingery Brussels Sprouts. I realise that not everyone will or can grow Brussels Sprouts but we can cook and eat them, are you prepared to give them another chance?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday! “Brussels Sprouts, Apple and Cheddar Salad  is a great example of thinking outside the box, no boiling Brussels here, just fresh crunchy vegetables that still retain their colour and taste.  It’s not the first thing I think of when growing and preparing Brussels Sprouts, but having made a salad I’m convinced it should be much higher up in your thoughts too. You need very fresh, very young and very small Brussels Sprouts for this salad, I realise that’s a lot of very’s but as “Fearnley-Whittinstall says ” fresh young Brussels, sliced thinly and served raw can be a revelation – crisp, earthy and not bitter at all.”

Before I go onto the recipe I’d like to share these words with you –

 “Top of the list – greens for the winter, …. Those are sprouts, savoy cabbages, broccoli. Men may come and men may go, but sprouts go on forever; that’s how one feels like after three months of them. Very useful things, sprouts.”

from the delightful book  “How to grow food – a wartime guide by Doreen Wallace

Brussel Sprouts_05_01_13 (3)

“Men may come and go, but sprouts go on forever……”

Brussels Sprout, Apple and Cheese Salad

Ingredients –

  • 50g hazelnuts, pecans or almonds (roasted)
  • 150g very fresh small Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and sliced thinly
  • A Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • A spring of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 crisp, tart apple, cored,  quartered
  • 35g Cheddar or a nice strong cheese, crumbed
  • salt and pepper to season

Method –

  • Toast or roast the nuts and add them to a bowl, Slice the sprouts and add them to the bowl, squeeze lemon juice onto them along with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Slice the apple directly into the bowl and then add the crumbled cheese. Toss and serve.


Post Script and Hello!

I’d like to say a collective sorry – Life has been busy and I haven’t been around in blogland for a while. I realise that I have so much to catch up on, all the wonderful comments left on my blog need responding to and of course I need to make some time to come and visit you – actually need is the wrong word, I WANT to. I LOATHE not having the time to respond to comments or catch up on your worlds, but I do get there eventually and when I do I LOVE it!  You know how it is, sometimes life gets in the way – but you know that don’t you! TTFN 🙂



  • Funny enough, I was just having a conversation about Brussels sprouts (thank you for spelling it correctly!) with a neighbour. I adore them sliced in half and stir fried with garlic and oyster sauce, but I’ll be buggered if I can get any of my men to come within a bull’s roar of them.. 😉

  • Long as you’re only busy, and not gone, we’ll see you when you get out from under that mountain of Life Stuff!
    I love this recipe – we make slaws and salads with full-sized cabbages, why haven’t we ever thought of doing it with sprouts? Go, Fern – you rock!

  • I often shred up some Brussels for last minute addition to soupy-stews. Nice bit of crunch, and because they’re cooked for just a few minutes ’til warm, their colour turns emerald tone.

  • Fully understand life getting in the way sometimes Claire. Always look forward to your posts though, when they do come! Agree, nothing worse than boiled to buggery brussels sprouts (or anything really)! Love the sound of this salad, with all that crunchy texture and goodness. Have never eaten sprouts raw, but I can imagine they’re excellent. Cabbage is so much better raw, and they’re not dissimilar veggies.

    • The jiggly-juggly conundrum of life eh?!
      The sprouts were good raw, and as you say they are related to cabbages so why not 🙂 Wishing you a super day

  • they are delcious when homegrown and fresh picked … i am sure your recipes will be reproduced here in winter claire!

    • I hope you get to try them raw Christine, I’m in full on planting mode now Spring seems to have arrived here so it’s odd thinking about winter just when it’s finished, but that’s a gardeners life for you 🙂

  • Oh those school dinner days when mushy sprouts were on the menu (and Maggie was in power…) …. yuk! But I love them young and slightly undercooked, and can even get my man to eat them if sprinkled with garlic oil and parmesan! 😉 I must try them raw one day, if I find some nice young ones.

    • It’s funny how the news has taken me back, to when she was in power, when she resigned – it’s like we can map our lives alongside hers – no matter what you think of her!
      And boo hiss to school dinners – true hit and miss affairs

  • With the weather cooling here Down Under the Brussels will soon begin appearing: i love salads around the year and yours will be the first to try 🙂 ! Maggie T and I could not have been further apart in politics but she was an icon of her era and come next Wednesday I’ll certainly stay up half the night here to see her Ceremonial Farewell . . . at the moment it ill behoves anyone to party methinks . . .

  • Right, maybe this is the way to get my hubby to eat Brussels – he loves apples and cheese so reckon I should give it a whirl, although I may just have a few Brussels thrown my way – no matter, all the more for me to enjoy.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  • I am waiting patiently for mine to mature – my first attempt to grow them. So far, so good! Looking forward to trying the recipe.

  • I keep trying, but Brussells sprouts just don’t sell well at my house. Not to worry about not being fully attentive to blogland. That sometimes takes hours we don’t have.

  • Sounds like a lovely salad! Brussels sprouts are a fresh, cheap, crisp and green vegetable – one of the very few – on our winter market’s shelves, so I use them regularly. Cut in half, at least – but even better thinly sliced – so that their folds grab up the flavors they are cooked with, they are a taste of summer in the middle of a long winter! Thanks, Claire!

  • Claire, it is spring. We are all up to our eyeballs in it, and well, other things too! We love your posts, and enjoy your comments and visits when you are able. 😉

    As for Brussels Sprouts, most times it is the bitterness that everyone complains about, and that happens, as you said, when you cook them to death. I am still working on Bob to get him to eat some now and again, but I mostly make them for myself!

    By the way, I learned several years ago, that it was believed that to release all the vitamins out of your veggies you needed to cook them till they were mushy! And although they *knew it was bad practice in 1920, it was still a common belief even up to the 1950s! Hence, we baby boomers grew up on mushy veg. Sadly, most people cook the way mom used to do it and never learn differently. I find it is an encouraging thought that there are so many ‘foodies’ out there who are paving the way to delicious meals that feature veggies cooked properly!

    I am afraid I have become quite wordy this morning! I hope you don’t mind… (!!!)

    (ref: )

  • Nice to read these last Brussel Sprouts posts from you and you’re right: people are rarely neutral about BS!

    It’s hard to catch-up on favorite blogs when life directs our attention and energy elsewhere. While I was laying around feeling crappy last month, I wondered how you and other cyberfriends were doing. Now that I’m mostly back to normal, I’ve rather liked reading 3 or 4 (or more!) consecutive posts from everyone. Hard to explain why, but I think “binge-reading” allows a better understanding of the blogger and their choice of content.

    Glad you’ve had time to check back in….I look forward to the first Spring 2013 photos from your allotment!

    • Hi there, great to hear you are back up and about, and I know what you mean about reading a few posts by bloggers one after another, like a sequel or a reading a book and you press onto the next chapter to see what happens! and I’m looking forward to seeing Spring in your Florida garden. we had some sun the last two days – warm for us after the horrid winter we’ve had between 13 and 15 degrees – which I realise is probably cold for you 🙂

  • The only way i know how to do brussel sprouts is with loads of lardons. butter and pepper. So actually this is quite a revelation!

  • As much as you’re missed when you don’t come around, Claire, I think it gives us all a little bit of permission to acknowledge that sometimes it’s just not possible to give the blogging all we would like! I agree with you, also, about not celebrating someone’s death–and I would much rather discuss my love of Brussel’s Sprouts. I love them roasted with onions and garlic, turnips and carrots. I have never had them in a salad, and can’t wait to try this recipe! Yummy!

  • Blogging, Claire, is a part of one’s life and sometimes has to take a back seat. I’ll keep a candle in a window for you and will look forward to your return. In the meantime, please pass the sprouts. 🙂

  • Don’t apologise for getting on with your real life! I’m in the not so keen camp when it comes ot sprouts but I think I’d enjoy this salad 🙂

  • I grew up with my Mom boiling brussel sprouts—yuck…how could anything so cute taste so bad!
    But as I’ve aged, of coarse these I loathed as a kid…now love!
    So I’m printing your recipe! Because it sounds delicious!

  • I am a Brussels Sprouts lover, though I usually wait until fall to eat them when they are in season. You are putting me so in the mood, though, that I may just need to go out and get some anyway… (BTW, I feel behind on things right now too!)

  • Broiled in olive oil sounds very interesting. I’ll have to try that. Too bad you didn’t write about Thatcher. That would have been interesting…

    • I’m not sure what I would have written Shimon, without it ending up in a full scale rant – or maybe I was too scared to write in case it came out as a rant.
      The woman has left an appalling legacy, it really does make me angry, nor do I see why I as a tax payer should pay for a millionaires funeral. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She really did divide this country further into the haves and the have nots, the marginalised are still marginalised.
      I still won’t celebrate the death of someone, whether it’s Bin laden or Thatcher, I won’t be going to the parties, but I do feel the need somehow to demonstrate – to show my feelings. She was a public figure and I believe I have the right to speak as I find, and not enshrine her in some hazy rose tinted history. I have a feeling some people are trying to re-write history in terms of her impact.
      There have been some excellent articles on her, many in the Guardian newspaper (it’s left leaning) which I’m sure you would find interesting. But I guess it’s the personal point of view which interests you most.
      I’m also not sure my blog is the right place for me to vent my feelings on politics, but maybe I should take a leap of faith…..

  • Hi Claire, do you grow your own Brussels Sprouts? Do you start them directly in the ground or in seed beds? I bought seeds with great intentions, but am so intimidated by needing to start them in seed beds before actually planting them. And I’m so delighted because even my kids love them! Thanks for any words of wisdom you have 🙂 Dana

    • Hi there, yes I do grow my own from seed. I start them off in trays or modules and when big enough, but not too big (maybe a couple of inches high) I transplant them out. This year I’m trying a seed bed approach too, I’m finding I have to make sure the slugs are kept at bay, but the watering is easier in a seed bed as I find pots can dry out very easily.
      Give them a go! Oh and my previous post showed you how to prepare the ground for the Brussels 🙂

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