Thursday, August 20, 2015

Don't You Hate When That Happens? - Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Good morning to you. I have another bone to pick: here are the "corporate" words and phrases I have come to detest: "team", "partners", "stakeholder", "law firm" (as applied to Children's Legal Services), and "staffing". I'm in a mood this morning; not totally bad, more like crabby-snarky. My back feels like it is broken in half, but other than that, the sky is blue and the clouds are gray.  I have things to do, decisions to make, contracts to sign.

I have not yet heard anything from the state Division of Retirement regarding my application for retirement disability, although I faxed the remaining documents over a week ago.  Looks like I am going to have to work the fax machine again.  Also, and perhaps more importantly, I can now start the process of applying to the Federal government for benefits.  Not entitlements, damn it, benefits.  I paid into the Social Security system for 45 years.

I have chosen an agency to assist me in this process, so now is the time for me to start filling out - gasp! - more paperwork.  Story of my life.  I've gathered everything in my "office" - yes, I'm sitting on my bed, surrounded by stacks of papers and several sleeping Yorkies - and will try to wade through the collection of names, dates, and medical conditions.  It's going to take a while just to figure out the medications, since I haven't really stabilized on anything either of my doctors have prescribed, although they keep trying to fine-tune them, and I have been (mostly) diligent about following their instructions.

I have also made a difficult decision regarding my supervisor's offer to have a luncheon to show appreciation for my work at the Department.  It was a lovely email, and just reading it made me feel better about myself.  But after long and hard thought (I realize this may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, but in my little world it has import) I have decided against it.  Rob and I will go up on Saturday to pack up and clear out my office, which will be hard enough.  My first instinct was to say "yes, thank you" but the words got stuck in my throat - or fingers, to be more accurate - and I realize I cannot do it.  I am not good about saying good-bye under the best of circumstances, and this is anything but. My therapist said it would be good for "closure" - how did I know he was going to say that? - and I told him I hate the word "closure" as much as "team" and "stakeholders".

I don't believe in the whole concept of closure.  I don't believe it really exists.  There are certain kinds of hurts that never heal.  All you can do is hope that the day arrives when you are no longer overcome with grief or regret or anger, when the emotions stop interfering with your ability to function.  A long time ago I read an article which explained that the 3Ds - Death, Divorce, and Dismissal - were the most Difficult events for a human to bear, and most likely to cause situational Depression.  If I can still visualize the details of my dismissal from A&A in freaking 1981, well, you get the idea.  Now I can tell you it was classy, but that day I was a mess.  It still hurts.

So having rejected the efficacy of closure, and not wanting to rip that fragile scab from my emotional well-being, I am going to respectfully and regretfully decline, and say good-bye in my own way, that won't involve streaming eyes, a runny nose, a migraine, or the overwhelming need to throw up.

And now, from the "Don't You Hate When That Happens?" Department:  while I was working on the quinoa and asparagus dish the other day, I had a brainstorm for a roasted garlic bread that would be a perfect accompaniment for the chicken with shallots.  It turned out to be a brainfart, at least as far as the whole garlic bread idea was concerned, but I did come up with a lovely roasted garlic cheese sauce which would be extraordinary poured over steamed broccoli, cauliflower, or even a grilled chicken breast.

2 heads garlic, roasted
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Italian seasoning
parsley flakes
ground white pepper
dash granulated garlic (optional)
dash Raging River Five Pepper Blend (optional)
1/2 cup cotija cheese

Melt the butter, over medium-high heat, in a small saucepan; add the roasted garlic (it will be the consistency of soft butter) to the pan and whisk together.  Add the flour and whisk about 2 minutes.  Pour in the cold milk while continuing to whisk.

Okay, this is where all those years of watching Emeril Live comes in handy. The roux is hot, the milk should be cold.  Although it is counterintuitive, this and your mad whisking skills prevent lumps.  Also, the b├ęchamel will only reach full thickening when it is brought up to heat,  Keep whisking while the white sauce comes to a gentle boil. Stir in your seasonings.

Take the saucepan off the heat and with a wooden spoon, stir in the cheese until melted.  Serve immediately.

There are a couple of different ways to roast garlic, but this is what I usually do - preheat the oven to 400 or 425 degrees; cut the top off the head of garlic so that the cloves are exposed; pour on some olive oil (don't drown the garlic, you want just enough oil to seep down into each clove); wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven for at least 45 minutes.  Check on the garlic after that, and don't be afraid to put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes or more until it is the color you want.  I like a deeply caramelized garlic that can be spread on bread like butter.  If you like a lighter, firmer, sharper-tasting garlic, 45 or 50 minutes will probably be enough.  I think I let these roast an hour, maybe a little more.

You can use any cheese you happen to have handy.  I don't usually have cotija, a Mexican cheese which goes great on grilled corn, on hand, but since I had some hanging out in my fridge, I tried it.  Nice, but not worth buying it special for this sauce.  Cotija does not melt as well as parmesan, which it resembles in taste, and if you want a good Mexican melted cheese, try queso blanco.

I did manage to rescue the bread, but it wasn't worth the effort, so we won't speak of it again.    Sometimes my inspirations fall flatter than Hillary Clinton's jokes about her new snapchat account.

Let's just say, in the interest of avoiding waste of food, that this bread and black coffee make a fine breakfast.

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