Shannon Fennell's Blog

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The cauliflower experiment

In my search for interesting food to cook myself I’ve seen, and been sent, the recipes for cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower garlic bread, etc.  Supposedly you use cauliflower as a substitute for the bread part.

Okay.

Thing is, I’ve become quite cynical about recipes that purport to make substitutes for carb based food.  I’ve been trying them and the results are:

  1. Disgusting, inedible messes.  Like the “pancakes” using coconut flour and many eggs.
  2. Don’t look anything remotely close to what appears in the photographs accompanying the recipes.
  3. Descriptions and instructions do not jibe – what the recipe says is not what happens.
  4. Recipes writers LIE!

I know how to follow recipes and to troubleshoot when something isn’t right.  I trained as a chef for a year right out of high school, and worked as a cook and a baker, so I know my way around an oven and food processor.  I’ve followed a lot of recipes in my life and they pretty much always turn out very well.  So you can imagine how I felt trying these recipes and experiencing such massive fails!

Nonetheless, this cauliflower thing was intriguing.  I like cauliflower.  So I spent a few weeks checking out the recipes that popped up on my Facebook feed, or that my sister and friends sent me.  Some were so involved that I lost interest part way through reading them.  Others spent 2000 words describing how great they were and how you couldn’t even tell it was cauliflower… really?  Now why don’t I believe that?

Several recipes described cooking the cauliflower then wringing it out in a towel to remove moisture, which seeing as they cooked it with water… made sense. But why would you bother cooking it with water to only have to wring it out?   Some said to grate the cauliflower into “rice” first, or after cooking.  I came across one that pureed the cauliflower and then microwaved it without water and didn’t wring it out, that made more sense.

I bought a cauliflower (putting my retirement at risk at the expense) so today was the day I tried this idea out.  Realizing, of course, that it was going to taste like, well, CAULIFLOWER!  What I wanted to end up with was a patty or fritter type thing.  Hopefully crunchy.

I started by chopping up a cauliflower head and processing it into a coarse grind in the food processor.

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I did not puree it, it was a dry fine chop.  You could do it by hand too if you didn’t have a machine to do it.

Then I microwaved it for a total of 10 minutes on high – stopping at 5 minutes to stir it.

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While it was cooking I grated up a hunk of parmesan and some mozzarella.

I decided to add bacon to my recipe – I always have real bacon bits in the fridge (I put that sh*t on everything!  LOL) and some spices.  This time I used ground white pepper, paprika, ground thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, chilli powder – I didn’t add salt as I figured the bacon and the parmesan would add enough.  And eggs to bind it together.

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I let the cauliflower cool to room temperature and then mixed in the spices, then the bacon and cheeses.  I wanted to make sure they were well blended before adding the eggs.

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Then added the eggs and mixed it up really well.

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I had got three eggs out but thought two might be enough, but it did need the third one.

Then I put heaping spoonfuls on the parchment paper and pressed them flat and shaped the sides with the spoon.  One large head of cauliflower made enough for what’s in the photo.

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They aren’t bad at all.  Next time (yes, I will do this again!) I am going to use a lot more spice and different stronger flavours.  And I am going to cook in oil on the stove – like potato pancakes – I want them crunchy!  These are firm, but not crisp.

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CAULIFLOWER, BACON & CHEESE PATTIES

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients used in this batch shown in the photos:

Large head of cauliflower

1 cup (by volume) grated parmesan (or other hard cheese)

1/2 cup (by volume) grated mozzarella (or other softer cheese)

1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon

Spices:  ground white pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, ground thyme – less than 1/8 tsp of each.  Next time I would use a lot more!

3 large eggs

Directions:

Coarsely chop or grind cauliflower to an even consistency. Place in a microwave safe bowl or dish, cover with lid or plastic wrap, and microwave on high for a total of 10 minutes, stirring once at the 5 minute mark.

Remove cover, stir and let the cauliflower cool to room temperature.

Once the cauliflower is cool, stir in spices, bacon and cheeses.  Once well blended, add the eggs and mix until combined.

Scoop onto the parchment lined cookie sheet and shape into desired size/shape – flatten and even out the sides.

Bake in the centre of the 425F oven for a total of 25 minutes, rotating the sheets at the 15 minute mark.  Check for desired doneness as your oven may be hotter or cooler than mine. Edges should be dark brown and the top should be starting to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool before removing from tray.  It doesn’t take long.  These turned out to be firm and solid so are suitable to hold other things.

Eat as is, warm, with condiments of your choice – guacamole, sour cream, dijon mustard, more cheese, etc.  Or, make a sandwich with them like I did – guacamole and sliced turkey!

Store leftovers in the fridge wrapped tightly in plastic wrap (to avoid condensation in containers.)

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This turned out well… and yes, this would work for a pizza crust very well.  HOWEVER, it is cauliflower and tastes like cauliflower but it is a neat way to eat it!

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I didn’t realize

In January of 2000 we moved from Surrey, BC (Vancouver) to Grande Prairie, AB, where we are today.  So I’ve lived here for 16 full years.

It was a bit of a culture shock, let me tell you!  First, the were NO Starbucks or other fancy coffee places – just Timmies (which gives me a stomach ache.)  Shopping choices were somewhat limited compared to the Lower Mainland of BC.  And a big lack of true ethnic restaurants.  Thankfully things have improved since 2000.

Living and working here changed my daily habits – no more picking up a “second breakfast” when I got off the train, no more multiple vanilla lattes during the workday, and no more lunches out everyday.

I was taking my lunch to work so it was therefore a lot healthier.  I wasn’t having lattes at all.  And a complete change of routine including staircases at work or physical job requirements.

When I arrived in Grande Prairie I was a size 28.  As most people of large size are wont to do, I had a wardrobe of things that fit, things that used to fit and things that never fit – but maybe one day they will.

It was a gradual change for the most part.  Things would get big so I’d start wearing the “used to fit.”  Then after a few years I realized I was in the things that “never fit” and had to buy new clothes.  I gave away my whole pre-Grande Prairie wardrobe – except for one pair of jeans and a sweater that I wore to work when we moved here.

This is the sweater laying on a twin bed… I really wore that, and it fit me.

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About eight years ago I realized I’d lost my ass somewhere.  All my pants were baggy in the butt and women’s slacks just did not fit me properly.  So I started buying and wearing men’s dress slacks and jeans as they fit nicely.

And clothing of my brother’s that I’d kept after he died, I could wear – Spiderman shirts, sweat pants – and actually do up the buttons!

Then I was taking care of mom after her stroke and wasn’t paying attention to myself as much, and my clothes got baggy again.  Gave away stuff periodically to cull and bought a few new things here and there.

Then last summer during mom’s hospital stay and death I noticed that all my clothes were, again, baggy.  But I didn’t have the inclination to buy new things at that point.

Then in December I discovered I had to change my diet for medical reasons, the result being a pretty quick drop of a considerable amount of weight.  And serious problems keeping my pants up.

So… yesterday I was out shopping and as I hiked up my jeans for the umpteenth time decided to go buy ONE pair of jeans to tide me over until I plateau.  So I went into the store and a salesclerk approached me right away.  Told her I needed a pair of jeans that fit, as I pulled the loose fabric of the pair I was wearing out into wings.

She asked what size… no idea, so we started with a 20.  And she had to make a couple trips for smaller sizes.

Total shock.  Size 16… SIXTEEN.  I think the last time I fit a 16 was 1979, after I’d lost 84 lbs in high school and enlisted in the army.

I dug my old jeans out of my tickle trunk to compare them to my new SIZE SIXTEEN jeans…

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Then I got into my old jeans… in ONE LEG!

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I’ve started morning workouts too, as well as the change to my diet, so who knows where this will end.

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