Now that my own Dad is in heaven, I can safely say that My Beloved is the best Dad on earth. He is always there for his daughters, and always has been. It was he who arose at zero-dark-thirty to take Sarah to crew practice. It was he who packed their lunches when they were young, and woke them gently with back rubs on school day mornings. He taught them both to drive a stick shift. He cheered when they graduated, wept at their weddings, and was always there with his big, warm bear hugs when they were needed.
Yesterday morning, on the Sunday morning program we heard about how men are having a tough time redefining themselves now that "breadwinner" isn't the only category. I'd have to disagree. I don't think men's roles are shrinking, I think they are expanding to include things like nurturing and other activities that were once thought to be the sole province of women. Likewise, I think women's roles are expanding, too, to include CEOs and Presidents. In other words, I think people's roles are growing and changing to include rather than exclude, and to take best advantage of the skills of each person.
When I was a girl, the jobs allotted to women outside the home were pretty limited - secretary, nurse, librarian, teacher, florist and, sometimes, Personnel (what we used to call Human Resources). In my day, it was unusual for a woman to aspire to the law or to medicine or to business management. There were some trailblazers, to be sure, who spearheaded the Women's Lib movement, but they were few and far between. Today, things are evening up - and it's all good.
So, rather than mourn the shrinking of men's traditional roles, let's celebrate the expansion of everyone's horizons. My Beloved's daughters were lucky to have such an involved and emotional Dad - won't it be great when he's the rule rather than the exception?
I made him a fine dinner for Father's Day and even snuck in a present or two to augment the one his daughters found and wrapped for him even during the turmoil of their mother's memorial service and estate worries. The highlight of the meal was this cauliflower gratin with goat cheese. It was a fitting accompaniment to grilled tri-tip and fresh green beans and a nice way to thank a great Dad.
Cauliflower Gratin with Goat Cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup half-and-half or milk
3 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small head cauliflower
Optional: garlic crouton crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a gratin dish or shallow baking dish. Break the cauliflower into bite-size florets; add them to the buttered baking dish and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes, but don't let it brown. Add the cream in splashes, whisking after each addition as the sauce thickens and smoothes. Add the goat cheese and the Parmesan cheese and whisk until smooth. Add the nutmeg and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and slide the dish into the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the top is browned.
If adding the croutons, while the dish is in the oven, put a small handful of garlic croutons into a small plastic bag with sealable top. Using a rolling pin, crush the croutons to crumbs. When the dish emerges from the oven, sprinkle the crouton crumbs over the gratin.
The sauce will be too hot to eat - let stand 10 minutes on the counter before serving.