[From the boat, April 2010.]
Life can be so very good to me. There was string of quiet sunny days, punctuated with delicious food and new dogs met and exclaimed over in the park,
[Oh! And I didn’t even tell you about the impromptu luncheon I had with my coworker on a Thursday afternoon when we decided, what the hell, to drive out to the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach. Have you been to this place? Oh, my … ! You must. I don’t care where you live — New York, Baltimore, Maine, whatever — get out here, and go there. It’s this white-walled inn and pub in the wilds of West Marin that smells of wood smoke and dark wood and sometimes they let you tack up bills from foreign lands on the ceiling if you ask nicely. On sunny days dogs and kids roam all around the lawn and you can sit for hours and no-one bothers you at all. She and I didn’t have hours, of course, it being a Thursday workday afternoon, but we did have a fairly leisurely pint of Guinness and I ate the Ploughman’s lunch (starting to finally like the pickled onions). We patted a very sweet 3-month-old puppy that bounded about — politely avoiding my plate, the good boy — and drove the 20 minutes back the city through sun and wildflowers, exclaiming on a) the wonder that is Northern California and b) congratulating ourselves on our spontaneity. More more more, please.]
and a week’s-worth of delicious dinners cooked from farmers’ market bounty. There was rain and sun both. And there was , of course.
So anyway this life, which is good to me, has really been particularly so of late. After that lovely last weekend, there was this past weekend which was pretty darn nice, too. It began with a Friday-work-from-home (a bagel with cream cheese and avocado plus strong coffee for breakfast; sauteed tofu with mushrooms and spinach and brown rice for lunch) and a morning email confirming my entry into the — gulp — Nike Women’s Marathon this fall (oh, wish me luck). That night I trooped out to Ocean Beach to watch two friends marry each other high above the sea at the Cliff House. It was a gorgeous night: cool, wind-swept, and clear; after the sun went down we toasted their happiness and ate amazing cupcakes (mine was filled with nutella, if that gives you any indication of what kind of wedding this was. For dinner I ate a very delicious and smartly-dressed salad of arugula, candied walnuts, and shaved fennel, as well as a clutch of butternut squash ravioli augmented with sauteed shiitake mushrooms and sage).
Then the next morning I woke up bright and early and took BART to Oakland where I met an old friend and her dad and went sailing on the bay. This was, to put it mildly, a dream come true.
All day there was sun and warm breezes (not even too windy at the mouth of the ocean) and we drifted with the wind looking out for seals. I brought a batch of for the boat that were nearly all devoured during the course of the day, and ate an early lunch of my standard avocado-cheese sandwich when we pulled in to Angel Island. The water was crowded with other like-minded sailing folk, and I swear sometimes it seemed like the boats would drift into each other there were so many. I caught up with my friend and ate sweet potato chips and nibbled cookies and felt, yet again, how grateful I am to live in California.
All this brought me finally to Sunday night, when I landed up a bit tired and worn out — though not unpleasantly so — from a long afternoon run in the sun down to Ocean Beach and back. I also found myself infinitely grateful I had just enough cauliflower soup in my fridge to eat for dinner.
Yes: it’s back to cauliflower yet again. Tell you the truth, I have rarely met a cauliflower I don’t like. I make it a point to get get to my Sunday farmers’ market early enough to pick up one or two ($2, organic, perfectly perfect) cauliflower/s if I’m in town. Mostly I roast them quick and sweet tossed with a little olive oil and sea salt (I may be a creature of habit but at least my habits tend toward the absolutely delicious); or I might throw some florets, raw, into a salad; once in awhile I’ll make soup. (My love for cauliflower is not news.)
That’s is what I did the other night. Make soup, I mean.
Now, I have my standard cauliflower soups (usually along the roasted and pureed with a few potatoes lines), but for once (!) I deviated from the usual. I’d just finished a full of winsome tales of falling in love, Paris, cooking, life, etc., and which included a recipe for a simple cauliflower soup punched up with a spoonful of tahini. I though: I like tahini, and I love
cauliflower, and I have both of these in the fridge … So, I went for it. And, I think this little recipe might have to enter heavy rotation. I especially like using leeks as the base for this soup; their light, delicate flavor is perfect for spring, and doesn’t overpower the sweetness of the cauliflower. I also had a bit of leftover whole wheat couscous so threw that in the bowl, too. And the spoonful of tahini, which might seem odd, imparts a nutty richness, slightly bitter but not overpowering. It made for a truly satisfying and nourishing one-dish dinner.
After, I treated myself to a wee cup of milk and a few homemade cookies. I stretched out on the futon and listened to the wind rattle through my apartment — Monday hardly even registered. Thank goodness for cauliflower soup. And nutella cupcakes. And sailing trips on the San Francisco Bay. And sun, enough to make up for all the long winter days of rain.
I hope you had a bit of the good life this weekend, too.
2 leeks, washed and sliced
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon tahini
optional: 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
In a medium-sized pot, sautee the leeks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cauliflower is soft. With a stick blender or in a food processor, puree until blended. Season with salt and pepper and gently reheat.
Serve hot, spooning in a 1/2 tablespoon tahini and 1/4 cup couscous, if using, per bowl.