Monday, January 28, 2013

My true cauli-ing

After this recent post, I bet you folks thought I had said all there was to say about cruciferous vegetables.  But you should know me better than that.  In fact, this may become my biggest cruciferous post of all time, because on Sunday afternoon, it was time to bring three more of my babies in from the not-so-cold. 
Thing 1.
Note my black rubber boot for scale, which isn't standing out very well against the rich, dark soil of our six-foot stock tank (and of course, after reading this other recent graphic post, you now know the rrrrest of the story about why I'm so obsessed with growing our edibles above ground level).

Those shoots in the shadowy foreground are Texas 1015 onions, which haven't done well for me these past two winters.  They should be much bigger than this by now.  Most of them didn't survive the abnormal hot weather we had in late fall, but obviously, my caulis were more successful.  I have a friend in rural Galveston County who gave me some composted horse manure this year (composted, not fresh).  It seemed to serve the caulis very well. 
Thing 2 is shown a bit out of focus here, but you can see that it's a purple cauliflower, probably a Graffiti variety (I forgot to ask Tabatha for the name).  The purple color  is reported to have certain nutritional properties of added benefit. 
Thing 3 was the coy one of the bunch.  I love how those leaves furl around the cauli head.  My wax myrtles are a bit too close to this, our four-foot stock tank, and probably reduce the sun it gets by one or two hours a day, resulting in this tank yielding slightly smaller vegetable sizes. 
I wanted a pic for posterity, so here's a pose in the style of Farmer Jane.  As in, Plain Jane. 
But of course, my loving husband took these photographs, and he had a somewhat different style of pose in mind.  What shall we call these??  Cauli-knockers?  Cauli-cans?  (If you would like to try on additional slangs for size, check out this humorous page... "Danny DeVitos"?  Really?!?).

And forget about DDDD - this would be more like an O-cup.  O as in, OMG!

O, come on!  Just because I'm four days older than the dirt I grow my caulis in... this doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with them.  Especially goofing around with my husband, who likes side angle views the best.  Trust me on this one - the joviality factor in my marriage bodes well for your property values. 

Incidentally, that cauli-can in the foreground has more of a sun-tan than the other one.  Commercial growers will wrap their heads to prevent this yellowing which, if memory serves me, derives from Vitamin A production.  Consumers who don't know any better prefer not to see yellowed caulis.  I prefer to let the Vitamin A develop naturally.
Once the boobies... I mean, the babies were brought in from the not-so-cold, it was time to cook 'em. I gave more than half of this mammary-lode... I mean, mother-lode to two sets of my Asian neighbors whose cooking skills far outstrip mine.  But my husband and daughter are both garlic fiends, so I also had to whip up a good feed of baked cauli, which generally happens like this:
First you cut the caulis into floret pieces, and grease a baking dish.  I mixed a bit of Graffiti and plain white cauli just for visual interest.
Did I mention about the garlic fiends?  OMG.  And I have to smell the breath of both of them for about two days after these feasts.  Ugh. 
So you mix about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and those minced garlic cloves together with the florets in a zipper bag.  I also throw some Reggiano in there, although you'll find that Internet recipes generally recommend that it be added as a garnish during the last five or ten minutes of baking.  But I like it baked in, so I add most of it at the beginning. 
Mix thoroughly inside the sack. 
Dump into the greased glass casserole dish.  I find I have to spatula out the zipper bag and dump that garlic-and-oil residue on top because half of it sticks to the inside of the bag. 

Also add salt and pepper to taste before placing the dish into the oven. 
400 degrees and 25 minutes later, this is the result.  Nice and crispy around the edges.  My husband and daughter gobbled all this up and then screamed for more, which I'll have to supply at tomorrow's dinner. 
As we were sitting down gorging ourselves on baked garlic-cauli overload, there came a knock at our door.  "That would be the curry," my husband declared.  "Oh hell no," I replied.  "There's no way she got it done that fast."  But indeed, our neighbor - she had gotten it done that fast.  This is a cauliflower and ground beef number that is TO DIE FOR, I tell you.  Better than any restaurant in Houston, and Houston has some really fine Indian cuisine.  I will definitely be learning how to make this one. 

And now you know my true gardening motivation, eh?  Grow massive organic vegetables, gift many of them to neighbors, and watch what happens next.  The results never fail to astonish. 

And you thought life in the suburbs was boring and predictable.  But behold, I have had my muffins and have eaten them, too!

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