I've said for years now that I hate moving and after the past few weeks I can confidently say I still stand by that sentiment. I know there are certain crazy people who like finding new places for things and the boxes and fresh starts but I am not that kind of crazy person. I am a different kind of crazy person - the kind that figuratively looses her shit when things are out of control and messy and expensive and in flux. It probably doesn't help anyone that I am pregnant and extra emotional so the tears seemed to sit right behind my eye lids at the ready for a quick breakdown. My beloved husband... My parents would praise him when I would call upset that the gray paint looked too blue (so tragic!), they wouldn't entertain my over-reacting, just a "God bless that Hugh." It didn't change the gray, but I started to catch on that I was the only one who was taking things like the size of a rug or the density of curtain fabric so seriously.
Hugh showed me a few photos he shot of my belly a few weeks ago and I got shuffled back into perspective. In short, he said "I'm afraid you're missing all the good things in front of you because you are so concerned with the house looking a certain way." He's right and I am. I mean, I was, because I am trying to calm down starting today. We will create a beautiful home in its time. These sorts of projects take months and years, not a couple weeks. I've been throwing meals together but in an effort to get back to work on both the blog and book, I actually cooked cooked - as in not just scrambled eggs or grilled cheese. I oiled the cutting boards and Hugh and his dad fiddled with the oven to get it up and running again. It was today, cooking and working in this new kitchen, that both of us said it felt like our home. I threw together a strawberry-lemon breakfast cake and we danced when familiar songs came on Pandora and I felt a little less crazy. I was reminded that it's the comfortable rituals and familiar idiosyncrasies of the days and the people you spend them with that make a place feel like home, not the paint color or ideal curtains. My usual answer when people ask why I like to cook is because I like to serve people in this small way, but I also love that it is a cozy skill - a skill that can warm your own heart when you need it to.
I had a gigantic head of cauliflower from my recent CSA basket and went the warm and cheesy route because I wanted the kitchen to smell delicious and the 30 week-old person in my belly likes warm and cheesy things. A well charred tray of garlicky-roasted cauliflower is my tried and true, but folding the florets and brown rice in with some milk and cheese offered a pseudo mac n cheese situation. I think you could add in some chopped spinach for greenery or mix in a dollop of horseradish to give it a kick. Either way, it's vegetable comfort food and it was just what we needed.
CAULIFLOWER + BROWN RICE GRATIN // Serves 4
I know someone will ask about making this gluten free and with a little searching it seems you can substitute cornstarch in the roux. I haven't tried it, but it sounds to me like it would work. I think this would also look adorable in individual ramekins or gratin dishes. Those would likely cook in under 20 minutes.
- 2 lbs. cauliflower
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 of a red onion, minced
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt and pepper, more as needed
- 2 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. dried Italian herb
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
- 3/4 cup shredded gruyere, plus more for topping
- fresh chopped, parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400' and grease an 8x8 pan.
Cut up the cauliflower into small chunks. Steam for 5-7 minutes until softened. Combine the cauliflower and brown rice in a mixing bowl and set aside (I ripped up any larger cauli pieces at this point).
In a saucepan, warm the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Saute until softened. Add the flour and cook another minute. Slowly start adding the milk, continuing to stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and let the roux thicken. Add the nutmeg, cayenne and Italian herbs. Stir in the parmesan and gruyere until just melted in. Pour the warm cheese mixture (it will be pretty thick) over the cauli and rice, add another few pinches of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into your baking dish and sprinkle the top with another handful of grated gruyere, parmesan and fresh ground pepper. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until the edges start to bubble. Turn the heat up to 500' and cook another 6-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove and let it cool for a few minutes.
Sprinkle the top with fresh chopped parsley and serve warm.