Nearly two years ago, I made a pumpkin soup, and tried to sort out my grief, anger and frustration following the tragic shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords, and 17 others, on a sunny Saturday morning in Tuscon, AZ. At the time, I had some hope that we would take real steps to prevent the all too common gun violence in our country: because of the prominence of Rep. Giffords, because of the number of people injured and killed, because of the sympathetic response of the nation to the death of charismatic 9 year-old Christina-Taylor Green. But then, just six months ago, it happened again: this time 12 were killed and 58 injured in a movie theater in Aurora, CO. Another angry young man, toting a ridiculous arsenal of guns and ammunition (all acquired legally within two months of the massacre), changed the lives and fortunes of a small American town forever. Again, there was grief and sorrow and mourning for the victims and their families. Again, there was discussion of new legislation for gun control, better access to mental health care, the need to heal our political rifts and address the culture of violence in our country. Again, especially in the context of Dark Knight Rises, the trotting out of violent imagery in our movies, television and video games. Again, the endless bickering about the second amendment, what our Founding Fathers really meant by “the right to bear arms,” and the old saw that “if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”
On Friday, it happened again, and here I come again trying to wrap my head around the murder of 20 first-graders and seven adults on a sunny Friday morning in Newtown, CT. Newtown is about 20 miles from me. I will admit: this makes it harder. It could so easily be my neighbors mourning their loved ones, my little town hosting too many funerals and dreading the intrusion of media, ambulance-chasers and soulless hatemongers. The fact that it was children makes it harder. Twenty first-graders, 6 and 7 years old, gunned down in their classrooms. What possible, twisted motive can make this seem like a good idea? It is literally hard to believe: my brain keeps hitting a wall, a logic wall that says, “No, you must be mistaken, that can’t be right.“
I know that I am grieving. I am too easily distracted, drifting from one project (decorate Christmas tree) to another (clean house for upcoming party) to another (figure out menu for said party). I should be packing up holiday gifts, destined for the Post Office, but instead I bury myself in Harry Dresden novels; I should be writing Christmas cards, but instead I check my Facebook page every 10 minutes; I should be cooking something for dinner, but instead we have ugly cookies & wine and call it a meal. I alternate between obsessively reading all the coverage of the shooting, to turning off and tuning out, putting on Christmas carols and trying to distract myself from the new reality: that these tragedies are the price we pay for our “freedom,” and that no one in Washington has either the guts or the capability to do anything about it.
Two years ago I had hope: hope that we would, hope that we could, make some real changes to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again. Three horrific mass murders later, I find my hope dwindling to the barest, tiny spark. That maybe Obama really meant what he said on Sunday night: that enough is enough. That maybe, without the threat of re-election hanging over his head, he will push and push, and push some more, and popularity of the legislation be damned. That maybe Congress will do their jobs for once: enact legislation for the safety & well-being of the American people. Maybe. But that tiny little spark of hope is currently being overwhelmed by the near certainty that in a year, or two, or less, I’ll be back here again, talking about the latest horrific shooting in a string of horrific shootings, and both sides will trot out the same old arguments about guns, and mental health, and culture, and still: nothing will get done. I hope, truly hope, that I am wrong.
As for the curried cauliflower; it was the one bright spark in a dreary, dreary day. Simple enough to whip together, even for my easily-distracted brain; smells amazing while cooking, tastes amazing once it’s done. Curry: it makes everything just a little better. Try it and see.
- 1 large head cauliflower, stem trimmed, chopped into florets
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- generous grind of fresh black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (350 degrees F convection).
- In a small bowl, combine spices, salt & pepper and whisk together well to mix. Add cauliflower florets to a large bowl; drizzle liberally with olive oil, then sprinkle with spice mix, tossing cauliflower as you go. Continue to add olive oil and spice mix as needed, until florets are evenly and thoroughly coated (you may not need all of the spice mix unless you had a very large head of cauliflower, like me.)
- Transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish, spread evenly and roast in the preheated oven until tender on the inside, crisp on the outside, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
- If you happen to have pumpkin pie spice mix leftover from Thanksgiving, you can use that in place of the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Garam masala is another, Christmasy-flavored spice that would work nicely as a substitute.
- If your cauliflower seems bitter, drizzle with just a touch of honey during the last 15 minutes or so of roasting: it will not only add a bit of sweetness but will bring out the flavor of the spices.
- The 1/2 tsp of cayenne gives this cauliflower a nice kick: adjust accordingly to your taste.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days. For best texture, re-heat in a 375 degree F oven for approximately 10 minutes.
Fall through winter.