Great Barrington — Julie Scott, whose talents in art and food are legion, has lived in the Berkshires for almost two decades. She came here after working in the West as a ski instructor in the daytime and an artist in the evening. As she began to realize that she could have a career in editorial illustration, she came east to get a degree from Tufts/Boston Museum School. When that was completed, she moved back to Idaho where she “had a really good run at being an illustrator.” And a ski instructor. “Luckily I work very well at night,” she says.
Scott met her husband Jim Hall through a mutual friend in Seattle. The couple moved to the Berkshires in 1997. Although Hall’s job takes him to Alaska for long stretches of time, Scott still does a lot of food preparation — not a difficult path to follow in her seriously equipped large and sunny kitchen. As something of an equipment junkie myself, I had to suppress my envy of all of her kitchen toys.
Like so many people whose children are grown, Scott cooks less now than when her daughter Trudy was younger. But she still likes to prepare food as the dinner hour rolls around. It is not just dinners that Scott creates. What intrigues me is her talent of creating things that store well — condiments, relishes, bitters, elixirs, and the like — all with ingredients from her fertile garden. She is particularly fond of vegetable soups that freeze well. “The only vegetable I can’t seem to grow is eggplant.”
This being the week before America’s primary annual food binge, Scott shared two recipes with me, both perfect as side dishes on your Thanksgiving table. One is for Brussels sprouts, which she plucked from her garden. The other is a cranberry relish, courtesy of Mark Bittman. Neither is complicated and both are easy to prepare, a useful attribute when hosting a festive Thanksgiving dinner.
Julie Scott’s shredded brussels sprouts
Scott first encountered this dish at a café in Park Slope, and remembered it clearly enough that she was able to recreate it at home. “I figured out what was in the salad just by eating it so I could recreate it at home.” She notes that this tastes best fresh, but holds well if made a few days ahead, a blessing for most cooks.
4 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (approximately 15 medium size Brussels sprouts)
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice*
½ teaspoon kosher salt*
Generous dose of freshly ground black pepper
*Adjust lemon juice and salt to your taste
There is no need to wash the Brussels sprouts, just pick off the outer leaves instead. Using the slicing attachment on a food processor, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts, or slice by hand.
Toss with cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice, and use salt and black pepper to taste. (See? Not hard at all.)
Julie Scott’s rendition of Mark Bittman’s raw cranberry ginger relish
“So much of Thanksgiving dinners is well cooked and sometimes too rich. I like having raw things on the plate, particularly when they provide good color.”
½ navel orange or 2 clementines, and its zest
4 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse 10-15 times so that the relish is chunky, not pureed. Let relish sit in refrigerator at least ½ hour (or more) before serving. If refrigerated, the relish will keep for two weeks.