Celebrating with Shades of Green

Spring has sprung! There's no doubt about it. I've worn short sleeve three times in the last week, and I do mean outside. It's going to be 70 degrees...for 5 days straight! Buds are starting to form on the tree branches and perennial plants are pushing through the dirt. Little blades of green grass are popping up and we just turned the clocks ahead. I really love this time of year. The Germans have a word for it. They call it Frรผhlingsschnipsel, or snippets of spring.
This means that St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. And I'm wondering how to celebrate the man who chased all the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea.
I was toying with the idea of making Cabbage and Mushroom Galette with Horseradish Sauce. But then I saw how time consuming it was and how many steps were required for the dough and filling. I decided to skip it (for now). I've learned to keep it simple in the kitchen these days, as there's a toddler and infant to watch over. One day I'll make some more-involved dishes (oh Eleven Madison Park cookbook, I've got my eyes on you) but for now I'm keeping it easy.
When I think of Ireland the first three words that come to mind are: song, drink (Irish coffee and Whiskey) and green. Sure, there are rolling hills and majestic cliffs, amazing literature (Angela's Ashes is one of the few books I managed to read cover-to-cover last year), great films, and ancient castles...but I'm going to take my cooking cues from the first words that came to mind and work a menu around things that are green and things that you drink...while listening to some classic U2 albums.
Lucky for me I spied two recipes in my most recent Martha Stewart publication that I wanted to make. One is for a Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Kale (it's green!) and the other is for Irish Coffee Blondies. Yum!
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt (season the soup well)
1 medium head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), florets and stems cut into 1-inch pieces (8 to 9 cups)
2 1/2 cups water

2 cups vegetable stock
(The original recipe used 4 1/2 cups filtered water. I used a combination of water and stock.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
5-6 large kale leaves, tough ends removed, and leaves roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat; cook onion, covered, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 minutes more. Add cauliflower, and pour in filtered water until it reaches just below the top of the cauliflower.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons dill. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in greens, and simmer for 3 minutes.
Let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons dill. Puree soup in batches in a blender until very smooth, adding more water (about 1/2 cup) if it's too thick. Return to pot, and reheat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with dill, black pepper, a drizzle of oil, and pinch of sea salt.

On to another green matter: the Mordecai Children's Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens reopened this past week, ending their winter closure. The children's section has a wonderful rooftop alpine garden, among other things. I took the boys last week and we had a blast. Otis loved climbing the rocks near the Springmelt Stream. Theo had fun in the sandpit. Something tells me these two boys are going to be real nature-enthusiasts! (And yes, those are the Rocky Mountains in the background!)
A few hours after our trip to the Botanic Gardens all hell broke loose. I put Theo down for his nap and when he woke up a short while later he was covered in a deep red rash, his eyes were practically shut and his face was swollen. 
Now, I pride myself on being a down-to-earth mother who doesn't usually panic...but this was too much. I knew it wasn't a mite or something contagious because I was fine, as was Otis. Theo had been a bit red in the face when we went back to New York for Yana's wedding two weeks ago. He was bumpy and there was a slight rash, but then it faded completely. I wasn't sure what was going on, but it was time to go to the ER. I thought, perhaps, he was going into anaphylactic shock. I was starting to panic.
Well long story short we went to a pediatric dermatologist at the Colorado Children's Hospital (it's No. 5 in the country for a reason) the next day. After a diagnosis (eczema that became unbearable, probably due to a virus that was long gone) and some topical steroids, everything is great and back to normal. Theo is comfortable. The rash and discomfort are gone...completely. He's also sleeping really well, so that's good for him...and great for me! 
I seemingly had a ridiculous amount of energy last week because the day after our stint in the ER and Children's Hospital, we were off to Golden to visit the Colorado Railroad Museum. Otis was a really, really big fan of the trains (he's kind of obsessed). And  Theo was happy not to be itchy. 

After we got back from the train museum I made this one-pot soup. It was so easy and so delicious. Click here for the Caramelized Leek and Minted Yogurt Soup recipe from the Moro Cookbook
Next week I'm delving into Persian cooking. Until then, have a great week/end.