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Hey! What’s up with Brussels sprouts!? Was there a flash freeze in Brussels and growers weren’t able to shield the plants in time? Right now you can get almost 2 pounds of butter for what a pound of Brussels sprouts costs, and butter is only slightly higher than gold on the NASDAQ.

In the event of a freeze, they should box up the whole stalks and ship them directly to the stores. They would require a little extra freezer space, but think of how many middle men could be skipped over, as well as each one’s increase in the price.

Since the Brussels sprouts season runs from late August until March, you’d think they should be plentiful now, and less expensive.

They were first cultivated, as the story goes, in a city in Belgium in the 16th century. See if you can name that city. According to my trusty “Food Lover’s Companion,” they should be refrigerated, unwashed, in a plastic bag and are best used within three days. After that they tend to develop a stronger flavor, but that doesn’t bother me a bit.

Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as iron.

Since we recently had some Brussels sprouts recipes, I’m only going to include a recipe for the way I love to prepare them.

Not only is October “My Favorite Month Month,” according to “The Popcorn Board, []” it also happens to be “National Popcorn Poppin’ Month”! Follow the link to find unusual popcorn recipes from A to Z.

The board says it is “a time to celebrate the most magical of all snack foods. Embrace the spirit of the season and join the fun.”

Following is a sampling of the unusual, simple and fun recipes offered by the National Popcorn Board.

If I were going to make the pepperoni popcorn, I think I would buy the mini pepperoni rounds (they are available in turkey pepperoni, too). First, because then you don’t have to chop anything; and second, because I think it would be cuter.

I would like to try the bread just because it is so unusual. Serve it with the popular popcorn salad. The popcorn salad started out as “mystery ingredient salad,” and people trying it for the first time had to try and guess the mystery ingredient. Interestingly, very few guessed correctly.

The popcorn bowl is just a really fun idea, and certainly no more time-consuming than popcorn balls. Instead of popcorn, you could fill the “bowl” with Chex mix, peanuts, M&Ms and raisins, or any other nibbler you like.

I know that some of you are wondering if we still take requests around here, and the answer is a resounding “YES!” In fact I have a request of my own for you. I love just about any kind of Asian food, my favorite being pressed duck. But close on the heels (do webbed feet have heels?) of the duck is mu shu pork. If any of you have a recipe, I’d appreciate it if you would send it my way.

Brussels Sprouts a la Alice

1 pound brussels sprouts, cleaned

Cooking spray or butter

1 small to medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 or 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained and crumbled

Steam sprouts, covered, until they are al dente. It doesn’t take very long, but they should be bright green and a fork should meet a little resistance when you poke them. Drain well; cover and set aside. Saute onion in cooking spray or butter until caramelized. Add bacon to onion; stir together. Stir together bacon/onion mixture and Brussels sprouts; season to taste. Sprouts could also be roasted.

Cheesy Pepperoni Popcorn

¼ cup nonfat Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

¼ teaspoon dried basil leaves

⅛ teaspoon dried sage

Black pepper, to taste

12 cups air-popped popcorn

¾ cup regular or turkey pepperoni, cut into bite-size bits

Olive-oil cooking spray

Combine Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, and pepper in a small bowl; mix well. Place cooked popcorn and turkey pepperoni in a large bowl; spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle popcorn and pepperoni with cheese mixture and toss to coat evenly. (

Cheesy Popcorn Bread

4 cups popped popcorn (unpopped kernels removed)

1 cup yellow corn meal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup 2% milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup shredded jack or pepper jack cheese

1 (4-ounce) can mild, diced green chilies, drained, optional

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Process popcorn in a blender or food processor until finely ground. Pour ground popcorn into a large bowl; stir in corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended. Beat egg, milk and vegetable oil together in a small bowl; stir into popcorn mixture just until blended. Scatter cheese and chilies, if desired, over batter; stir just until evenly distributed. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned at edges and tester comes out clean. Cut into squares to serve. (

Edible Popcorn Party Bowl

10 cups popped popcorn

1⅓ cups sugar

1 cup water

⅓ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

10 drops food color, orange or red and yellow optional

Spray inside of a large, stainless steel bowl with cooking spray and outside of a slightly smaller stainless steel bowl; set aside. These will be used to form popcorn bowl. Spray a 3rd large bowl with cooking spray and place popped popcorn inside; set aside. Stir sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar and salt together in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, and boil 3 minutes to allow steam to wash down sides of pan. Remove lid and attach candy thermometer to pan. Allow mixture to boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 290 degrees. Stir in food color, if desired. If orange food coloring is not available, add yellow and red at a ratio of 3 drops yellow to 1 red, or whatever gives you the color you seek (have this ready before syrup reaches 290 degrees). Working quickly, pour syrup over popcorn and toss with a large spoon until popcorn is thoroughly coated. Pour popcorn mixture into large bowl and use a spoon to push mixture evenly up onto sides of bowl. Firmly press second prepared bowl onto popcorn to form popcorn bowl. Allow popcorn bowl to cool completely between stainless steel bowls. To serve, tip popcorn bowl out and place on platter. Fill with popcorn to serve. (

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Liven up your Thursday mornings by tuning in to Coulee Region Cooks from 10 to 11 a.m. on WIZM-AM radio, 1410 on the dial. Spend an hour with Mike Hayes and a different guest(s) each week in his studio kitchen, sharing recipes and cooking tips, along with a generous serving of fun. I will be joining Mike on Oct. 26, with some Halloween entertaining ideas, as usual. That is “howl at the moon day.” Who knows what kind of shenanigans will be going on. Of course, when Mike and I get together we never know what will happen.

Send requests, recipes and/or cooking tips and techniques to Alice P. Clark at: Reader Exchange, c/o La Crosse Tribune, 401 N. Third St., La Crosse, Wis. 54601; e-mail:; or send a fax to 608.782.9723, attn: Reader Exchange.


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