Broccoli Cauliflower Gratin

Dear blog, there is so much to say since I last posted. Before the recipe, I’d like to share a few thoughts.

This period of not writing has been most recently discovered as a blessing in disguise. The absence of writing makes my mind grow wild with thoughts; an endless rain in an overwhelmingly lush rainforest. It’s unhealthy, really. And reminds me how much of a release and necessity it is. Last night, I read through old writing assignments and journal entries and laughed and felt things I had forgotten about.

It has been so long, and a time has come in my life, the very close lives around me, and lives all around the world, that has forced us to face things we, as humans, may never be prepared for.

Like words entwined in conversations we have as friends, under the dark, starry night sky in the backyard, thoughts we merely touch the surface upon when speaking, not daring to venture too far into the depths of unanswerable questions.

Like the longing we sometimes feel in the early gray morning, still fuddled; weak even, from the haunting dreams we had the night previous; a hangover of surreal confusion.

Like a tree, pulled from the deep Earth, uprooted from all it’s ever know. The cracking sound of bark reverberating like a rapid heartbeat before it falls silent.

Like the feeling of tumbling in a wave, your body slamming against the gritty sand, and you swallow a gulp of salt water that goes up your nose.

Hearing a song that hits a nerve; pulls at your strings and you have no idea why.

A time that begs us to realize how delicate time truly is. A time that reminds us how strong love can be; a feeling so out-of-body, out-of-Earth. A time that forces you to want a million things at once, to reach out to God and not receive anything in return. To face the fact that life is short.

It’s such a cliché statement: “Life is short.” I used to think of it as a statement of support and encouragement. Yes, life is short, so eat the damn bagel. It is also a statement that hints at some sense of urgency. Yes, life is short, so tell her you love her NOW before it’s too late. But how urgent should we take this statement? What about patience? “Life is short” shouldn’t be treated as something we use casually; a reference we use to be wasteful.

Yes, it is short. Sometimes too short. But rushing is not the way to live; waiting is not the way to live. GAH SO HOW DO WE DO IT? It’s so aggravating, especially right now when life is just beginning. The balance is something I’m trying to figure out.

These concerns have been poking at me lately, with more and more ferocity, for reasons like the Paris attack, the San Bernardino shooting, sickness in my family, the pain of loss in the heart of my best friend.

We’re so fragile.

And there are all these things we want to do in life; all these places we want to see, and I’m not sure if it’s just my age, my generation, or my own anxiety, that I think I can accomplish all these things, that I am so hopeful, don’t think of it as being naïve, that I can succeed in refraining from being sucked into the, excuse me for being dramatic, societal pressures of everyday life. Is that so wrong? And by that I mean: wake up, go to work, go home, make dinner, sleep. You know, to live but not really be alive.

The other night in the hot tub Kait referred to it as “real life.” She said something like, “I know you don’t want what’s considered ‘real life,’” because I want to travel. I knew what she meant, but at the same time I couldn’t help but wonder how what I wanted could not conceivably be considered as “real life.”

Of course someday I’d love to settle down. I want to get married. I dream about it. I think I want kids and I want a house in a neighborhood and a fireplace. I want goats and alpacas and a farm and to have a stand at the Farmers’ Market.

I also want to teach English in Thailand, submerge in the hot springs of Iceland and witness the endless field of emerald in Ireland. I want to ride an elephant.

I want to feel the way I did when I jumped off the cliff sophomore year and my legs were shaking the whole way home and my ass was bruised from slamming into the water and I could hardly breathe from the adrenaline; the way I did as the bus leaned into the fatal space between a tumbling drop to the Mediterranean Sea and the edge of a narrow Corfu road. I want to feel.

And be surrounded by the people I love every fucking second.

I knew what she meant; “real life” as in all of that average stuff. But it made me mad that we even consider real life as just these average, expected milestones in one’s life. It makes me mad that after college, for example, we see life as entering the “real world.” We’ve been living in the real world the whole time!

Is buying a house and getting married and having a baby and working and paying bills the definition of the real world? That’s so safe. So scary. And the real world is not safe.

Real life, defined as “noun: real life; modifier noun: real-life, life as it is lived in reality, involving unwelcome as well as welcome experiences, as distinct from a fictional world.”

Or as my dear friend Shay says, “An amalgamation of all our dreams” (sounds a lot better). Can that be trademarked?

Real life, as my mom has said, is moving on; realizing the world doesn’t stop. And learning to be okay with that.

The real world; accepting the fact that there was just a mass shooting and people are dead. Loved ones are gone. Sounds of pain strike the air like missiles. Terrorist attacks happening everywhere, and we probably don’t even know about half of them. Do you realize how lucky you are to even be reading this, on a computer, sitting comfortable in an office chair or your couch?

And yet we have to keep moving along. But I hope moving along doesn’t mean that you are ignorant to these facts, or that you shelter away from the world.

At this point I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. What I’m aiming for in all this mess of a blog post is that by moving along, I hope we aren’t just conforming. I hope that no matter what happens, we’re truly living the real life we crave for; that we can be brave; that up until the last second, every cell in our bodies is filled with love and worth and adventure, whether that adventure is globe trotting or building the cutest family in the world; that we do what is important to our values; that we don’t hesitate to follow our dreams. My hope is that every second we can be grateful and thoughtful for all those who have left unfinished.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin



Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the finished dish! There was 12 other things being made in the kitchen, family arrived and Thanksgiving happened in the blink of an eye. The end result was delicious. The sauce was cheesy as a dream, the florets tender against the crunch of onion and crispy breadcrumbs, and each bite kissed with heat from the pepper jack.

You’ll need:

  • 2 medium heads  broccoli, cut to florets
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut to florets
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, shredded
  • As desired, sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. of panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted

Add broccoli and cauliflower florets to a large saucepan of water, bring to a boil. Rinse and set aside in casserole dish.

In a large  saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium heat. Add onions. Once aromatic, add garlic. Let simmer for 2 minutes and add flour, cayenne pepper, milk, cheese, pepper. Stir quickly; add flour or milk depending on thickness of the cheese sauce. You don’t want it to be too liquidy! You want it to be thick and cheesy with a kick of heat from the pepper jack! Once done, Pour over broccoli and cauliflower. Stir in casserole dish to distribute sauce evenly. Mix 2 tbsp melted butter with panko breadcrumbs and mash with a fork to eliminate any chunks. Sprinkle over casserole.

Finish with leftover parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes until crispy and bubbling!

*Inspired by Emerging Adult Eats

 

 

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