a bright, clear day.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but this feels like the week things are beginning to take a turn for the better around here.

The weather, for one, is looking much more promising; the sun bursting through the clouds this afternoon had jangly summertime song lyrics bouncing through my head.

Sticking to my Lenten resolution has not been as painful as I might have thought (possibly because I have been compensating for the lack of baked goods with sushi and potato chips in equal measure), and I have found that going largely, although unscientifically, gluten-free has made me feel more clear-headed and slightly less fatigued.

My children and I are all germ-free for the moment, and my husband and I have been spending what feels like a gluttonous amount of time together.

As the kids say, it’s all good.

My week so far has also included a couple of bits and pieces of good news, which I will have to keep under my hat for the time being, but we are celebrating around here nonetheless with (what else? )cake: this flourless cake.

And this pale green soup, which will counteract the cake and put a little virtuous spring in your step.

Simple Broccoli Soup

This is adapted from a great basic cookbook called Whining and Dining, by Emma Waverman (yes, that Waverman!) and Eshun Mott. I can never bring myself not to fiddle with their recipes, but my husband follows them to the letter and the results are always perfectly good.

1/4c unsalted butter

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4c (a one-litre carton) low-sodium chicken broth

1c diced peeled russet potatoes

4c broccoli florets

1 – 400 mL can coconut milk

In a large pot set over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to colour. Add broth and potatoes and bring just to a boil; then simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Add broccoli and return to a simmer. Continue to simmer 8-10 minutes, until vegetables are very tender. Add coconut milk to pot, and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serves four.

a hot, buttery bath.

I went to a friend’s house this past weekend to enjoy a rare afternoon’s gossip and glass (or two) of wine, unfettered by the requirements of my family (who were, all three of them, safely ensconced at our house just across the street). I had a marvelous time, greedily making my way through several truffled olives and more than my share of a luscious cheese fondue; and when I got home, I made a thrilling discovery:

Dairy does not seem to be the problem it once was for my nursing baby.

I was, besides being thrilled, also a little relieved – had things gone the other direction, and my reckless cheese-eating resulted in hours of pain (for the baby) and misery (for the rest of us), I’d be too busy feeling like a terrible mother to blithely blog about it.

But as I was also very, very grateful for the opportunity to start eating butter again, I cooked this simple dish almost immediately. The broccoli component is enough to make you (well, me anyway) feel okay about the rest of the ingredients; eaten with brown rice, it could almost be considered virtuous.

Broccoli Bagna Cauda

2 small heads organic broccoli, separated into florets
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1/4 c unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets, minced
a large splash of white wine
a generous squeeze of lemon juice
1/3 c toasted pine nuts
scant 1/4 c freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss broccoli florets with 2 tbsp olive oil and the salt and pepper, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast about 20 minutes, until broccoli is quite tender and beginning to brown.
In a large skillet, melt remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovies and saute until garlic is colouring slightly, about 2-3 minutes; add wine and lemon juice and simmer a few minutes.
Transfer broccoli to the skillet and cook a few more minutes, tossing the broccoli and letting the sauce reduce a little. Add pine nuts.
Sprinkle parmesan over top and serve.

Serves 2 as a main course (with rice), or 4 as a side dish.