Thursday, February 19, 2009

Keyboard activism or cauliflower gratin? BOTH!

Christalmighty—can I come and hide on my own blog? Even though a blog is by definition a public place, this little chunk of cyberspace seems like a peaceful haven compared to where I've been spending much of my time the past few days. Drama! Email! Bloggers!, Comments! Huff Po! The principal of my high school and the Los Angeles Times on my telephone! Not at the same time! Did I mention drama? So much drama. I am exhausted.

A Facebook friend of mine linked to a post on the gay issues site The spring production of RENT had been cancelled at my high school allegedly because the school administration opposes the depiction of openly gay characters. We should take action, he urged. I picked up the phone and within a few minutes had the principal on the phone. There's something a little gratifying about being able to pick up the phone and demand answers from someone who once would have been a source of such authority. She denied it all. Said the drama teacher, not she, cancelled the production and that if I wanted an explanation, I should ask him. Said she had no problem with gay characters and that it's important to support gay students. She even, she confided, has gay faculty. I suppressed the urge to say "No shit, lady," politely thanked her for her time, and tapped out an email to the drama teacher. That was the beginning. He wrote back. I wrote back. So did others. I contacted the media. So did others. The media contacted me. I think the story is now off and running with enough momentum of its own that homophobia and discrimination at this school will be a topic of open discussion whether the administration wants it or not. Huzzah for the power of the keyboard and for the internet for giving us the vehicle to advocate for change. The kids may have their play yet.

These events eclipsed most else that is important in my life and worth discussing: food and skiing. But I'll take a much-needed break from the drama about drama to discuss the very important topic of cauliflower gratin. Cauliflower gratin is more or less a mac and cheese recipe with cauliflower substituted for the pasta. Save the fat; lose the carbs! Not that I'm against carbs, mind you. Everything (almost) in moderation. But this dish let me combine my serious need for a little comfort with vegetable consumption. A win-win, right?

The cauliflower is blanched briefly in boiling salted water and then baked with a mornay sauce topped with buttered bread crumbs. Orange cauliflower saves this dish from being entirely colorless, not that there's anything wrong with that. Could you imagine it with purple cauliflower? Neither could I.

Like many good things, it starts with a roux. Just looking at those little bubbles makes the tension drain away. . . .

Tomorrow I'll be playing hooky for a day of skiing with two of my best gals. I'll be unplugged and unreachable, which is sort of what I need right now.

In the meantime, an update from one of my new favorite bloggers!. If he were here, I would spoon a bite of cauliflower gratin into him.


1 3-pound head of cauliflower, cut into thick slices or large florets
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Boil the cauliflower in a pot of salted water until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauce pan, then stir in flour. Cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring often. Add the hot milk gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, 1/2 cup of each cheese, and nutmeg. Stir well.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce into an 8 x11-inch baking dish, then add cauliflower pieces. cover with remaining sauce and top with a mixture of bread crumbs and remaining Gruyere. Melt the two remaining tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the top. Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
But wait!. Another update: A link on the freakin' first page of the on line New York Times!!!


Monica said... go girl! I wouldn't want to meet up with you in a dark alley!! Seriously, though - RENT is one of my absolute favorite musicals. Jonathan Larson was a truly talented man, and it's sad that his time was cut short. I think he probably would have done even more amazing things.

The reality is that the kids in that school are already well aware of the topics covered in RENT, so I wonder what the administration thinks they're protecting them from. And it's not like it glamorizes drug use; in fact, it shows why you shouldn't!

Keep us posted on what happens!

Purple Flowers said...

My sentiments exactly Monica.
And Cindy my dear, you make a mean cauliflower gratin.

MsMVNJ said...

Good for you - one of the reasons this world is so screwed up is because of irrational fear. Brava, Cindy.

The gratin looks incredible!

J said...

Good for you! I first saw Rent when I was 14. I probably didn't totally get it at the time but honestly, what harm can come of it?

That cauliflower looks AMAZING!

Angelina said...

This is a long time favorite dish of mine!

I'm so happy you got the discussion out in the open at your school and hopefully the play will be put on after all. But at the very least you and the other people who got involved refused to silently let homophobia win the day.

Ryan said...

Thanks for the link, I think it's broken though!

Hope you're well,


adozeneggs said...

The cauliflower gratin looks awesome!
So, was it the drama teacher or did the principle tell you a fib?

The Mrs. said...

I am so making this! YUM!