Monday, March 28, 2011

my muse has a first name, it's c-h-e-s-t-e-r

How mad are you going to be if this turns into a bl*g entirely about Chester?

Vermont in March: The snow has melted to reveal dead grass and frozen mud; a bounty of dog poop and cigarette butts; cardboard, beer cans, and Sunday circulars that have blown out of recycling bins. My muse and I walk by the lake most days, where the ice has broken up and smashed into one corner of the bay. It's gorgeous and bitterly cold, which is what I aspire to be, as well. My muse aspires to pee on every single bush and tree lining the waterfront.

At the local neighborhood co-op, where my muse is not allowed to shop, the staff daily rearrange the same old local vegetables in an attempt to convince consumers that butternut squash is a novelty item. I buy cauliflower, watercress, and walnuts from distant lands and wonder what my muse is doing.

What my muse is doing:

At home I spend a couple of hours gazing at my muse as he sleeps. Then I cut the cauliflower into florets for roasting and wonder if there will ever be flowers here.

While my cauliflower roasts, I compose a poem called "Ode to a Sleeping Dog...Seriously, Chester, That's My Pillow. The One I Put My Head On at Night."

My muse cares not for roasted cauliflower.

I set it aside to cool for a few minutes and toast some walnuts and make the dressing, while my muse does yoga (Extended Dog Pose).

Seriously, how mad are you? My muse and I want to know.

He eats kibble, I partake of Roasted Cauliflower and Watercress Salad and pine for blossoming trees, an iceless lake and squashless grocery store, my muse running through fields of wildflowers, his ears flapping in the gentle breeze. I'm going to be waiting until June, because it turns out Vermont skips spring entirely and after an extended winter moves right into summer. Until then, Roasted Cauliflower and Watercress salad: The cauliflower, still warm, ever so slightly wilts the watercress. A slick gloss of sherry vinaigrette. Toasted walnuts. A little cheese.

My muse recommends the kibble.

Roasted Cauliflower and Watercress Salad

Adapted from my girl Melissa Clark at the New York Times

I've eaten this salad, and variations on it, many times over the past couple of months. As often as not I've used spinach instead of watercressdelicious. It's also good without the cheese if you're some vegan hippie type. You can refrigerate all the different parts in separate containers and then bring them to work and assemble a salad for lunch; your coworkers will be very impressed/think you're crazy into Tupperware (the salad won't be quite as good because the cauliflower isn't warm, but it's better than a Cup-O-Noodles from the vending machine).

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, separated

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, separated

¾ teaspoon pepper, separated

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 bunches watercress, large stems removed

¼ pound Gruy√®re, diced or grated (about 1 cup)

2/3 cup toasted walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss together the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and dark golden, ~30. Let cool for 10 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and then whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons oil.

3. In a salad bowl, toss the watercress, cheese, nuts, and warm cauliflower. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss until well combined.


  1. Perfect blend of recipe and the muse. This reader is pleased.

  2. Your muse makes me want to kiss your blog on the nose. If there's anything that I love more than snacks, it's ginger puppies AND snacks!

    The next time you venture to the Co-op, try the organic yellow plums (ignore the fact that they're from 4 million miles away). If you leave them for a few days they'll turn orange and taste like sunshine...or at least remind you that the sun exists somewhere.

  3. I'll take the first shot in a 5x7, please.

  4. My word verification just now was "hameste." Is that what Mr. President says at the end of each yoga session?

  5. I aim to please, StephFace!

    You're sweet, lmc. I will definitely try the they help in that windowless office of yours?

    J Quizzle, Chester will be signing head shots at the mall this weekend; feel free to stop by. Hameste.

  6. That little wiener dog makes any dish look delicious. Welcome back, dear blog mistress. I've missed you.

  7. He makes a sweet dessert, too, o yes you.

    I've missed it here, too, EBids.