This year’s spooky day snuck up on me. I have no holiday-appropriate post. No candy, no pumpkin, no orange food, nothing at all about putting on costumes and demanding sugary treats from strangers.
What I do have is tonight’s dinner, which accidentally turned out looking like something you might use in a haunted house to imitate human innards:
That’s Halloween-y, right?
This meal I’m going to write about was a little rite of passage. It was the first thing I cooked in my new kitchen, in my very own studio apartment.
When I was a little kid, and making my little-kid list of what Being a Grown-Up might possibly mean, high up on the list was having a living space all to myself. From the time I was 3 until the day I left for college, I shared a room with my sister. Never let it be said that I don’t love my sister–if you’re reading this, sistah, I love you–but the everyday grinding closeness, the shattering of any privacy, got under my skin in a big way.
I went to college, and had roommates and dorm-mates. I graduated and moved back home, then found other roommates. But this is the first time, ever in my life, that I have really had a complete living space that was 100 percent my own.
I’m so happy I could cry.
This was supposed to be a post about cauliflower.
I love pan-seared cauliflower. Toss it in a pan and let it get lacey and brown and smoky-sweet around the edges, and it’s like an entirely different vegetable. I came back from Spain with one mission, and one mission only: to get me some cauliflower, crispify it like no one’s business, and introduce it to romesco sauce.
Which I did. And it was fantastic, don’t get me wrong.
But then I made a batch of Spanish-spiced potatoes to serve alongside. I dabbed a little sauce on the spuds, just for funsies. And those potatoes promptly went and stole the show.
My brain is fried.
Work is craaaaayzay.
I have to start looking for an apartment soon.
My synapses are slowly fraying. I can hear the “plink! plink!” of connections severing in my head. Just directing my fingers to write words in this text box is exhausting.
So here’s something I made last weekend. It was yummy. You should try it.
Well, not unbearable. In fact, pretty damn appealing.
Fact is, there are days when I feel compelled to do fancy things with food. And then there are days when it’s ungodly hot outside, and I’m staring down the Workweek from Hell, and standing over the stove with an elaborate plan and a spatula sounds like torture.
Guess which kind of day I’ve been having lately?
A day late and a dollar short, but…Happy Mother’s Day anyway!
My mother is, without doubt, the most bestest mama I’ve ever met. She’s five feet tall, 100 pounds, and the purest example I know of the Mexican jumping bean in human form. She’s always moving, always doing, always thinking and wondering and checking up on business. She’s a bottomless well of unconditional love and nurture, mixed with a healthy dose of clear-eyed practicality. She’s endearingly, sometimes cringe-inducingly silly; she will regularly crack herself up to tears before even reaching the punch line of a joke. And she’s the only woman I know who has never given her firstborn child grief for the horrific length of time she spent in labor with her. (Sorry, Mom. I hope it was worth it.)
So of course, when Mother’s Day came around, I jumped at the chance to cook for her. I’ve written before about my impulse to shower people with love in the form of food. So I made dinner.
And, if I may say so, I knocked it out of the park.
You know what? It’s spring. The air is soft and downy, shot through with veins of light and blossom scent. The sky is bottomless blue, the kind of super-saturated color that makes my teeth ache (no, really). The market stalls are overflowing with bright clamoring produce, so fresh and blink-you’ll-miss-it-seasonal that it’s tempting to bring home bagfuls and just eat it, unadorned.
This is the season when I start to lose patience with fuss. In the winter, I’m perfectly content to hone my kitchen-sink cooking and practice all manner of fancy flourishes. But when the clouds break and the temperatures climb, I want something different altogether. I want fresh, and simple, and clean. I want to really taste spring in my food.