|Gram O'Brien and me in the kitchen in St. Louis, circa 1972|
Years ago, before the great sadness, the O'Brien side of my family would gather in St. Louis at my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving. The stories are many and far away, like the time I got stuck in a tree or the horrific drive from Ohio to Missouri in a Pinto during a blinding snow storm or the steaming bowls of chili and buttery garlic bread that inevitably awaited us on the other side of the Gateway Arch on Wednesday night. But this post isn't about any of that.
It's about broccoli stems and Gram O'Brien and me.
"That's the secret," she said, peering at me from over her glasses. "And then you have to marinate them."
She took out a bottle of Wish-Bone Italian salad dressing and poured off most of the oil.
"I don't like that part," she said and pointed to the vinegar portion of the concoction. "This is where the flavor is." Then she doused the peeled cubes and discs with the hacked dressing. "Now you have to wait." I was completely transfixed by all of it.
|Humble hostess as budding cook|
I suppose you could marinate the cubes in just about anything. I made them over the weekend, using my regular salad dressing (Good Seasons You make it fresh! Garlic and Herb--do not judge).
I hadn't made this simple dish I love so much for the longest time. I'd nearly forgotten about it. I usually just toss the peeled bits in to steam with the lush florets, but the florets were all I needed for Saturday's fondue party. I cleaned those and put them aside, and there were those stems, begging a use. I suppose that's when Gram's ghost tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, why don't you marinate them?
Man, they were good Sunday morning with the leftovers from the fondue dinner.
* * *