Having recently harvested and eaten some of these tiny cabbages, I'm reading that brussels sprouts were named for their place of origin back when Brussels was part of ancient Rome, perhaps as early as the 1200s. Mike showed me the technique for harvesting them this time of year. You creep under the 3 or 4 foot tall umbelliferous top and standing there bent over, with your thumbs snap off the small heads which diminish in size as they swirl up and around the stout stalk. Taking off the shaggy outer leaves of each one before tossing it in, Mike only had about twice as many as I had in my bucket by the time we finished.
Sometimes you can buy an entire club with the sprouts still attached. In which case you can either play cave man or you get to figure out how to cook tiny sprouts no bigger than a ladybug with big ones the size of a super jawbreaker.
Now that we're cutting down on cheez kurls and oreos, a recent company meal at our house included: Special best meatloaf, brussels sprouts braised in cream (thanks Margaret!), mashed rutabaga and potato, and apple pie. American foods of the heartland to winterize us.
Special Best Meatloaf
1 lb. meatloaf meat (ask Bob Sparrow - it's ground beef and pork, no reduced fat business)
1/2 C. saltine cracker crumbs (toasted bread crumbs are ok too)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 large green pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. salsa
salt and pepper - quite a few grinds
Mix all of these together in a large bowl, using the side of a big spoon to "cut" in the ingredients with each other so that it's not all mashed together. Keep it light. Form into a ball or loaf shape and put on a cookie sheet with sides. Bake at 350º for about 1 hour. The outside gets crispy while the inside stays juicy. Leftovers make excellent meatloaf sandwiches.
If you want to get your family to beg you for brussels sprouts, try that recipe where you braise them in cream. It's shockingly good. And so good for you. A kind of food-based anti-freeze. Or a dessert.