Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
I was reading on the world wide web yesterday about Russian President Vladimir Putin banning western grown produce and pork products. Seems old Vlad probably hates broccoli and bacon. As a consequence the average Russian citizen will go without, the Russian Oligarchs will get what they want and there'll be more for the rest of us.
Today's post is about Brassica oleracea italica - broccoli. Dating all the way back to Roman times the broccoli cultivar you are most familiar with comes to us via Italy. The stalks that constitute a 'head of broccoli' are the plant's flower. If you don't cut it off and eat it - it will in short order bloom into a lovely yellow flower arrangement.
Sometimes maligned - broccoli is one of those foods that is chock-full of goodness. It's packed with vitamin C, loaded with fiber and purportedly has anti-cancer properties. I simply like how it tastes and how versatile it is. It is really easy to grow too. So don't turn-up your nose at our green-colored friend.
Which is a roundabout way to getting to the friend part. Everyone likes my broccoli and fresh-picked broccoli is a terrific way to win friends and influence people. I am told that once it is picked the broccoli floret rapidly begins to lose its natural sugar content. Because much of our super market broc has spent days traveling by truck from somewhere else it has lost a significant portion of its natural sweetness by the time the truck arrives at a Milwaukee terminal. From there it has to be distributed by smaller trucks to the grocers. Keep it on display in the produce department for a few more days and...blech. You get the picture.
Because my broccoli finds its way to the table within a day or less from picking it's a real sweet deal. Which would explain why it is in such high demand.
It doesn't hurt that this has been the best year I've ever had for raising a pile of my cruciferous friend. The cooler weather this summer has been the boost to the broccoli and bane of the tomatoes.
If you grow your own or get your hands on some really fresh stuff at the Tosa Farmers Market and you want to set any aside for a cold February day I have a simple way of freezing it. Break or cut the larger florets into smaller pieces. Soak for a couple of hours in salt water to drive out any bugs hiding there. In small quantities plunge your florets into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove immediately and plunge them into a sink full of icy-cold tap water. Once all your florets have chilled, transfer them to a strainer to drain. Then arrange them on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Put the sheet in the freezer until the florets are frozen solid. Like this...
Package them in whatever portions you prefer using a FoodSaver and freeze until use. At some future date you are going to get an itch for broccoli as a side, in a casserole, in a cheesy soup or as a pizza topping. Fresh-picked, flash-frozen broc will help you scratch that itch.
Vlad probably isn't making any friends. Me? I'm feeling the love baby.