Food + Wine

“Raisins. They’re Just Humiliated Grapes”

I don’t like Raisins too much. They’re too syrupy sweet for my taste.  And frankly they just ruin anything they’re involved in with their obnoxious Raisinness.  Scene stealers, focus pullers… just a bunch of divas, those Raisins. I think it stems from the fact that they’re not their plump, taught-skinned, younger selves anymore. No one seeks a life of shrivel-dom and they’re not necessarily pleasing to the eye.  No one has ever looked at a Raisin and said, ‘Oooh!! How pretty!!’

Now Grapes, on the other hand, Grapes are sweet…but they’ve still got some acidity, some crunch, some pep. Grapes have a bit of an edge.  Plus they’re just plain pretty. People paint pictures of Grapes. No one has a picture of a Raisin in their kitchen. Grapes are pretty and fun…until time gets ahold of them and turns them into dwarf prunes. But ain’t that just what happens as time passes? We either get older and wiser or simply older and pruney. Either way, we’re never the same as we once were.

When I first started this blog I was living in a small apartment, my husband and I were fairly broke, and I was without a paying job.  I was young, a new mom- a plump little Grape, if you will, and my only job was to keep our baby son from running into a table corner on an hourly basis. He took two long naps a day and, like I said before, we were broke so we spent a lot of time at home…I cooked a lot, developed recipes and played with my son all day until my husband would come home from work and we would eat whatever it was that I had time to artfully create that day.

Now I’m almost 5 years into being a blogger, (yet I still cringe when I have to refer to myself as a ‘blogger’ and always feel the need to apologize and explain myself afterwards…’No, no, no…I’m not one of those bloggers.’) and things have changed so much in my life that, on a regular basis, I feel incredibly guilty for neglecting this blog- this small, quiet, other child of mine.

Nowadays I’m in a house instead of a small apartment, (with more surface area to clean and tend to), we’re not rich by any means, but people now pay me to do something other than keep my children alive.  I have two kids instead of one and if you, yourself have taken the leap from one child to two (or more), then you’re aware that the workload doesn’t double or triple with each child, it sort of explodes into indescribable numerical amounts.  My oldest is now in kindergarten and I stay home with my toddler full time, which, frankly, I should be paid to do.  I’m still cooking, still developing recipes (although not nearly as frequently as before), but I just don’t have the time to write about it.  I also don’t have the time to really be inspired anymore…being busy will do that, I suppose.

But, the ironic part of it all is that the busier I am, the more I do stupid stuff that I could have written about. Last week, I spilled mayonnaise on my kitchen rug. A lot of mayonnaise. Right on my kitchen rug. I don’t even like mayonnaise. But I was rushing to finish up my prep for a catering job, while simultaneously cooking our dinner and keeping both children alive and happy, and somehow the jar just slipped out of my hands, releasing cups and cups of airborne mayonnaise to plop into globby clumps on my beautiful kitchen rug. I’m still trying to get the stains out.  I warned my husband that night, as he walked through the front door, that our kitchen was a Bounty commercial.

Previously that week I had broken two frozen beer glasses on the rug. (Frozen glass, by the way, breaks, like, way uglier and worser than normal temperature glass…it went ev-er-ywhere.) A couple days later I dropped my peanut butter-chia-flax-oatmeal on the same rug.  Now I think I need a new rug. See…I could have written about that and included a new aioli recipe at the end or something. But instead I got busy again or tired the next day and never got around to it.  When life happens so damn fast, (and you can ask a Raisin to attest to this), it’s just so hard to keep things as planned.

This week, I knew I needed a day off, what with all the breaking stuff and all, and with a minor foot injury needing rest, yesterday being a holiday and my son home from school, I decided to make myself have a day off. The three of us (my 2 year old daughter, 5 year old son and myself) stayed in our pjs all day, watched movies, crafted…and just hung out. It felt like the old days. I carved out time for me to just sit and Be.  I wasn’t planning on any magic to happen, I just wanted to remember what it felt like to not be so busy, and what it felt like to appreciate my babies, have time for them, play with them, enjoy them.  And you know what happened? Somewhere on the couch, with the ice numbing my foot, helping my little man do his homework, I found the inspiration to create again. It came to me like a slap in the face, or broken, frozen glass on the carpet.  So I decided to carve out some more time today and tell you all about it.

Although in the weeks to come I’m sure to be too busy cleaning up something on my kitchen rug to write you again, I do hope I’ve learned something after yesterday. Raisins become Raisins far too quickly, you turn your head for a moment and what used to be a beautiful, juicy fruit is now a humiliated shell, barely hanging on to the stem, just hoping to land a role in a cookie.  That’s life.  Something major happens more quickly than we expect it to, if we’re not taking the time to enjoy what we have in the moment.  And nobody wants to be a Raisin, even Raisins don’t want to be a Raisin.  So from this day forward, I promise to try a little harder to stop and enjoy the Grapes.

This side item will be on my Thankgving table. I just created it based on the stuff I had around (like the good ole days!) and it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes. The flavor of the grapes concentrate and provide the perfect and unexpected sweet counterpart to the Brussels sprout.

If you love the idea of cooking something savory with grapes, check out my Pizza with Roasted Grapes, Havarti and Caraway (it’s a very, very old posted recipe!!)

And here’s a video of me making it (again- very, very old…) with my son (and daughter in utero!)

The combination of the sweet grapes, the savory Brussels, the tangy and creamy goat cheese and the crunchy nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds is outstanding. This side dish really is unbelievable and so so flavorful!  It’s got everything you would want in a side. And it’s perfect for the Thanksgiving table!!

Let’s all give a big round of applause to the Grape!!  Woop!



serves about 4 as a side

  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 lb. red grapes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large rosemary sprig, minced 
  • canola/light olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt, fresh black pepper, sugar
  • chevre (young goat cheese)
  • toasted nuts- pumpkin seeds and walnuts are preferred

Place your halved brussels, whole grapes and onion slices on a large baking sheet that you’ve lightly oiled.  Sprinkle half of your minced rosemary over. Drizzle with oil to coat.

Season well with kosher salt and black pepper and a couple pinches of sugar.

Roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the grapes have shriveled and the brussels have become golden brown and crispy.

Add the rest of your rosemary to the pan and drizzle a splash or two of red wine vinegar over everything.  Stir.  Taste to check seasoning.

Serve with some crumbled goat cheese and toasted nuts.

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