Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brussels Ark

I'm hopping on a train from San Francisco to Chicago to New York tomorrow morning, so of course I'm up late doing some last minute packing and posting on Weird Veg. Just wanted to leave you with a tasty morsel before I go off the grid briefly. Last weekend I went camping in the redwoods near Mendocino, on the coast about 150 miles north of San Francisco. I introduced the group to the joy of vegetable foil packets, which involve chopping up various veggies, sprinkling them with salt and pepper, laying on some pats of butter, then wrapping up the whole thing tightly in foil and tossing it into the hottest part of the campfire. My foil packets were pretty vanilla, not blog-worthy by any means--just carrots, onions, and potatoes--but a collaborative effort resulted in a revolution in campside cuisine:

The Brussels Ark

My friend Lily bought brussels sprouts at Safeway on an impulse, but it was only after we fished the brussels packets out of the fire with a stick and a frying pan that another camp buddy, Ryan, had the brilliant idea to nestle the delicately charred sprouts inside a tiny onion sliver boat. As we marveled over the buttery delicacy, he was struck by a bolt of gourmet inspiration and christened his creation Brussels Ark. It may not be on the Ark of Taste, the list of endangered or nearly forgotten foods compiled by the Slow Food people, but this onion flotation device rescued our foil packet fare from drowning in a salty puddle of vegetable normativity.

Want to play with fire? You can make foil packets from most vegetables, though less watery ones are better. I leave the standard carrot/potato/onion ones in for at least 30-40 minutes, while the brussels sprouts roasted in about 20 minutes, rotated carefully with a well-chosen stick. You might want to use a double layer of foil if you're worried about them splitting open. Since then, other forest lovers have regaled me with stories of beet foil packets and even backpackers' ratatouille.

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