soupy.

Both of my children suffer from nightmares.

They wake up terrified, crying out for help. When I wrap my arms around my trembling son he struggles, still in the grip of the bad dream, unable to recognize me; I have to wait for him to surface, to stop thrashing and take what comfort I can offer with hugs and soothing sounds.

My daughter, once her tears have subsided, is more analytical. Mournful and perplexed, she won’t rest until she finds out why she’s been dreaming about such unhappy-making things.

I wish I had an answer for her.

Instead, I hold her close and we talk about all of the things that bring her joy: our recent trip to Mexico; riding her scooter; my parents’ dog; the bunk beds at the cottage last summer; waking up early enough to see the sun come up.

We hold each other tight in the dark and whisper about all of these things, and I tell her that enough happy thoughts will push the dark ones aside, at least temporarily, long enough for her to get back to sleep.

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I realized the other morning, as I ran through the park on yet another dull, chilly uninspiring day, that I would do well to take my own advice.

The ponds and puddles were all soupy, filled with icy slush that leaked into my shoes, and the swans wouldn’t lift their heads from under their wings. Nary a bud nor a sliver of spring green was in sight. It was windy, and the forecast was for flurries.

To say that I am sick of this weather would be understating the case enormously.

And yet.

We just celebrated seven years in this city, and things are getting better all the time. It feels like only moments ago that I was, literally, sitting on my empty kitchen floor on a March day, dreaming about the future.

I have work that is thrilling and a business that keeps both my husband and me inspired and involved in our amazing community.

I’ve begun driving, and loving every minute of it.

I have friends who are there for me whether I am seized with despair or not, a small posse of caring, fierce, intelligent women who will shop or run or drink with me, and who will listen while I rattle on about paint chips and food and shoes and furniture.

So really, this is the life.

And these endless, not-yet-spring doldrums? It’s time to shake them off.

Onward!

 
Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup

What to cook when the need for hibernation-friendly (read: hot and comforting) foods has passed, but not the desire? This soup. Hearty, rich, and healthy, I have been eating more than my fair share of it lately.

5 cups chicken broth
2 whole star anise
a 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and smashed with a heavy knife
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets (to make about 8 cups)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine broth, anise, and ginger in a large pot; bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer.

In a large bowl, toss together cauliflower pieces, garlic, and olive oil. Place on one or two metal baking pans, whatever you need to ensure that there is just one layer of veggies and that they are not too crowded.

Roast in middle of oven until golden, 20-25 minutes – don’t let the garlic burn!

Remove baking pan (s) and use a rubber spatula to tip vegetables and oil into the pot of simmering broth. Simmer until cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes. Fish out star anise and ginger.

Puree soup in batches in a blender until very smooth and velvety, then return to the pot and reheat over moderate heat until piping hot. Taste for seasoning and add sea salt, if desired.

Makes about 8 cups.

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whatever you need to tell yourself.

Is there such a thing as virtuous gluttony?

We celebrate a lot in our house at this time of year: my two children have their birthdays within four weeks of one another, and my husband’s birthday and our wedding anniversary are sandwiched in there too.

Not to mention enough family birthdays, friends’ birthdays, and friends’ children’s birthdays that, combined, this summer’s various celebrations have fused in my memory into one long party involving possibly more than one bouncy castle and many, many glasses of rose.

It has been wonderful.

It has also meant that my dinner hour cravings lately seem to veer wildly from something like this

…to something like this

…and back again.

Left to my own devices, I’d like to think that I could happily exist on leftover homemade birthday cake and cold, pink wine; and if mine were the only needs to consider, I might just give it a try. There are, however, children in my life, and although I submit to their dietary whims with embarrassing regularity, even I have my limits.

Enter this quick, simple, and delectable cauliflower dish, with its caramelized edges and salty bits and just enough olive oil to make it feel like an indulgence.

As to the question of vutuous gluttony: if there is such a thing, I am hoping this dish will get you there.

Especially if, like me, you’ve already been everywhere else this summer.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/3c olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
2-3 tbsp capers
8 sundried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and finely sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In baking dish large enough to hold all of the cauliflower in one layer, toss florets with olive oil and salt until well combined.

Place in oven and roast, stirring from time to time, until cauliflower is tender and beginning to brow, 20-30 minutes.

Serve garnished with capers and sun dried tomatoes (and a large glass of wine).

Serves 4, generously