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On grief, in springtime.

Warm Cauliflower, Lentil and Quinoa Salad II | Umami Girl
I learned a lot this week.

I learned what it’s like to say goodbye to the last member of a whole generation.
That it feels like a seismic shift.
A sudden reframing of our place in the world.
A time to talk about goals and plan big things.
That change begets change, all on its own.

I learned that you can know someone for a whole lifetime without ever being made to feel like you’ve let them down.
That I wouldn’t count on it happening very often.
That having a grandmother may be a necessary condition to reach this exalted state, but it isn’t sufficient.
That you’ll know it when you see it.
That I hope you’ll have the chance to see it.

I learned about pure sadness, unencumbered by the messes we make for ourselves, uncomplicated by shadows of deeds left undone, words left unsaid.
Backhanded as it sounds, I hope you’ll have the chance to see this too.

I learned so much about our younger daughter.
How she shows up ready and gives it everything she’s got.
How she faces the world straight on and doesn’t have anything to hide.
How she must have been doing this all along much more than I realized.
How, six years old or sixty, we’d all be better off for acting that way.

I learned that grief has muscle memory.
A body wants to slip back into the depths it knows from losses that have come before.
I learned that given just a little time, you can begin to clear your mind and rise up out of this place.
And that you will.
That you must.

I learned that grief is cumulative.
But so is strength.

That my home on the yoga mat is a real home.

That flowering trees become more useful as we age.
That spring is superseding fall as my favorite season, because hope is more important now than the romance of decline.
That decline isn’t so romantic after all, once you’ve seen enough of it.

And I learned — remembered — that I always return to the kitchen.
That the food you see here truly is my kind of food.
That it nourishes in all the ways we need.
That it’s the best I can do.
And that I think — I hope — it’s enough.

Indoor Outdoor | Umami Girl

Carolyn xx

Warm Cauliflower, Lentil and Quinoa Salad

This is how to turn leftover quinoa and a head of cauliflower into a symphony. Purple cauliflower turns bright pink in spots when you squeeze lemon juice onto it. The salad will taste just as good with regular cauliflower, but that trick alone is worth the price of admission -- so if you can find the purple stuff, go for it.


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup dry french lentils
  • 1 cup good vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • A few good grinds black pepper
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese for serving, optional


  • Steam the cauliflower until crisp-tender and place in a large bowl.
  • In a small pot, combine lentils, stock, herbes de Provence and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed and lentils are barely tender, about 20 minutes. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion along with a generous sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned in spots. Add garlic and capers and cook until very fragrant. Stir in cooked quinoa and heat through.
  • Tip lentils and onion mixture into the bowl with the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, walnuts and pepper and toss gently to combine. Serve warm, with Pecorino to pass if desired.
  • by

    Recipe Notes

  • If you don't have cooked quinoa on hand, combine 1/3 cup raw quinoa (rinsed well) with 2/3 cup good vegetable stock and a generous pinch of salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes more before proceeding with recipe.
  • 1 review


    Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.

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