Day 10: How I (tried to) learn to love cauliflower.

So, apparently cauliflower is versatile and can MAYBE replace potatoes…

…but I wasn’t holding my breath.

So, people at work have been hearing me gripe like crazy about this diet (my apologies, comrades!). Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll get used to it (I’m not holding my breath). Statements like that really aren’t too helpful to me, to be honest.

Here’s the thing: I know myself. It’s now been two years since I gave up eating red meat every day (on GLORIOUS days, I’d have been eating red meat three times a day…ah, good times), and I STILL crave roast beef every single day.

Every. Single. DAY.

I know my coworkers mean well (at least, I’M pretty sure they do 😛 ), but MAN, it gets increasingly more frustrating to deal with the “It gets better, you’ll see” statement as you get hungrier throughout the day.

What’s been preferable has been people giving me suggestions on how to jazz up the vegetables in my diet.

Enter: The cauliflower convergence.

Goodness knows, I eat more vegetables than anything else these days. Hooray… Still though, better advice than statements saying I’ll get used to it (because, again, I won’t).

One thing that keeps on cropping back up over and over again is the versatility and usefulness of cauliflower. Coworkers, gym mates, friends: They all seem to have jumped onto the cauliflower train. Or maybe they’re all paid stealth marketers for the damn vegetable – in which case, my awe and possibly respect for cauliflower growers would’ve spiked up enormously.

At any rate, a good number of folks keep bringing up how useful cauliflower can be. Apparently, they say that I can roast it with spices and cheese to give both zest and oomph (zest? Maybe. Oomph? Riiiiight). People tell me that I can also make a pseudo pizza crust out of cauliflower (I’m reeeeeeeally skeptical). Or that I can make cauliflower hash browns as a way to plug the void that not eating potatoes by the ton has created in my life (HA!).

The thing is, though, if I don’t try something new, I’m going to start hating most of what I eat. Or, to be even more precise: I’ll start hating it even more. That’s really not a good attitude to develop, not if I’m going to make this a permanent lifestyle change. What to do then, about my almost outright contempt for vegetables?

Well, I decided to try one of these recipes.

Out of all of the above, the thing that held the most “appeal” to me was the notion of cauliflower hashbrowns. I miss potatoes, especially fries, chips, and hashbrowns. If there’s even a 1% chance that this recipe could do something about my tater hankerings, I had to try.

The first messy, sloppy, less-than-glorious attempts.

So, I found one simple recipe, where I grated a half head of cauliflower, which I then mixed in with 2 teaspoons of minced onion, an egg, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. After mixing, I just set the stuff in crepe-like shapes in a lightly-oiled pan under medium heat.

The first problem in doing all of this was that grating cauliflower led to some pretty messy explosions of cauliflower bits flying all over the place. The fact that cauliflower is so pale in colour meant that the smaller pieces on the floor were going to blend right in with my floor, chameleon-style. Finding all the errant chunks on the ground was going to take some doing afterwards. Yay. So far, cauliflower 1, Henry 0.

Next was the problem of moisture. Dear LORD the cauliflower mix from the recipe was extremely wet. Even at medium heat, the cauliflower in contact with the surface of the pan was basically burning before the mixture came anywhere close to sticking together in a meaningful fashion. Flipping the stuff in the pan was next to impossible; every attempt led to the hashbrowns falling apart (as well as sending further bits on the ground).

By the time I was done cooking it all, the surface of the pan had caked-on bits of burned cauliflower. What I managed to transfer to a big plate was a weird, odd mixture of nearly-charred bits and a wet mash of soggy cauliflower. It looked nothing like the recipe’s pictures. By this point, I’d already spent well over  a half hour fussing about  on one of the simplest recipes I’d ever seen.

And the taste test?

Ugh. The burnt bits tasted like ash, and the non-burned bits tasted like pinches of salt and pepper, with the occasional bit of egg.

Cauliflower 2, Henry 0.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Of course, this was just a first attempt. And I missed potatoes juuuuust enough to keep on trying.

So, on to take 2 (you really don’t want to know how many cauliflowers I went through).

Next I tried putting the stuff in a George Foreman grill (with the flat cooking surface attachment).

This was ever so slightly better. There was definitely much, much less burning. It took even longer than with the pan to cook, though. But because it was George Foreman grill, I could walk off and do other things while it cooked.

After about 45 minutes, I came back. And it looked like it was done. It was, but it was still mushy as hell. Argh.

Okay. There was definitely a pattern.

This mix was going to be wet no matter what. The recipe that I was using either overstated the amount of egg or cauliflower to use, and I was paying for it with it being crazy overwet. So, what to do?

Well, I made a new batch in which I put in less egg than the first time. Then I also added finely ground oats (because I’m avoiding wheat products as part of this diet), to soak up some moisture and to add more texture. And then, I put it into a lightly greased baking pan and tossed it in the oven at 350 degrees. And I walked away again (there’s another pattern developing, methinks).

I came back every 15 minutes to check, and then sometime about an hour later, something like this came out of the oven (using a picture of a later attempt because I was too tired to remember to take a picture of the first successful attempt):

cauliflower hashbrown.jpg

Taste test time!

Aaaaand it was… okay.  Just merely okay.

But, I have to say, it was still way better than I was expecting. Unbelievably, cauliflower hashbrowns almost got halfway to scratching my itch for real hashbrowns. ALMOST halfway.

Still, THAT is an achievement for this vegetable.

So, maybe, finally, cauliflower 2, Henry 1?

I’ll take it. It already goes a bit of a ways into making me hate my food less. In that light, this exploratory exercise in cauliflower cooking was worthwhile.

Did I learn to love cauliflower? NOPE.

But we’re at least on civil terms now :).

So, what’s gotten me through my cauliflower impasse? Here’s the recipe below!

The cauliflower hashbrown recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/5 cup of finely ground steel cut oats (this will vary, based on how much moisture you want to soak up)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 onion, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. canola oil

Instructions

  1. Cut off the green cauliflower stem; grate the cauliflower head on a cheese grater
  2. Mix together the shredded cauliflower with the egg, oats, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion; make sure the paste is evenly consistent throughout
  3. Preheat oven to between 300-350 degrees (oven strengths vary, after all)
  4. Evenly line the bottom of a baking pan with the oil
  5. Put the cauliflower mixture into the pan and flatten out its top
  6. Bake the mixture for up to an hour, or for as long as it takes to reduce the moisture to your liking

That’s it! Enjoy (if indeed, “enjoy” is the word :P) !

 

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