An amazing thing happened this week: I lost five pounds without trying.
I don’t want you to think I did something unsafe or unhealthy, or have some dangerous underlying medical issue that caused this. I don’t, and in fact, I was under a doctor’s supervision when it happened. She was weighing me as part of my annual physical.
According to the doctor’s scale, I weighed less fully clothed than I did just hours before, when I got out of the shower and onto the scale The Departed left behind. This was the same scale that, when we moved in together a decade ago, I got on and remarked that it seemed to give me a higher number than my own scale. I don’t remember the exact explanation I received, but whatever the reason, I was persuaded to toss out my own inaccurate scale, while his scale remained.
I debated sending the scale to him when I sent the rest of his stuff over, but he didn’t ask for it and I figured I shouldn’t have to pay for anything I didn’t have to.
My mistake. My new scale arrives Monday.
Of course, although losing five theoretical pounds gets me closer to my target weight – with no extra effort on my part – it doesn’t actually help my clothes fit any better, so I need to continue on my diet until an accurate scale gives me a more agreeable number and the clothes in my closet agree. I’m fine with this, as I’ve discovered the wonders of calorie-counting apps, and have had no difficulty saying No to dessert recently.
The only thing I really miss is baking – it’s the part of cooking I love most – so I’ve set about finding recipes for things I can bake that aren’t cookies or cakes or The Child’s beloved tuna-noodle casserole, but that still warm my soul, as well as part of the house, at least while the oven is on.
I’m getting better at keeping vegetables in the house, so this week was pleased to open my vegetable drawer and discover a head of cauliflower. In the meat drawer below – mostly used for cheese – I found half a piece of Gruyere, buried beneath the Parmesan and Parrano. Surely, there must be a way to make a nice winter dinner out of the fridge, and it turns out there is: A nice cauliflower gratin.
You could serve this as a side dish, or bring it to a potluck, much as you might with a nice macaroni and cheese, but it also works nicely as a main dish if you have some good bread to serve alongside. It’s substantial and filling, not too gooey or cheesy, with mild flavors set against a nice crunchy topping. You can make this ahead of time and store it in the fridge, then just bring it to room temperature when you’re ready to bake and serve it. It reheats well, and makes a nice lunch the next day, and the day after that.
This recipe is lightly adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups hot milk
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- ½ cup grated Gruyere
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Using a box grater, grate the Parmesan and Gruyere and set aside.
- Cook the cauliflower florets in the boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is a light golden brown. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.
- Pour ⅓ of the sauce on the bottom of an 9 by 9 inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Top with bread crumbs.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.