cauliflower fried rice

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you sow.” Robert Louis Stevenson

pureeing cauliflower

I hate to admit this but: I think the flowers on our front porch are dying. I know. I bought them back in March, for $7, on a hot and windy day where I had to hold my skirt down just to keep it from blowing, and I repotted them next to our welcome mat, in a place where you could see them from the road, hoping their bright pink buds would add just a tiny bit of color to the green landscape that surrounds our little house.

Since then, there’s been watering, sometimes, like when I’ve looked at them out our dining room window and realized it’s been at least a few days of forgetting. But there’s also been heat, lots of it, enough to make the edges of the flowers brown—just at the tips—prompting me to water them again, until I’d forget again; now, they’re dry and crisp-looking.

I’m a terrible gardener. And not just of flowers.

cauliflower rice and cashews

In an email the other day, my friend Kendra used the phrase “filling my soul” to describe something she was doing, and it struck me: it doesn’t matter if it’s a pet or a person or a $7 flower pot, life needs nurturing. It’s through the feeding and the watering and the loving and the connecting that living things grow. And, while I love seeing pretty flowers or rich harvests, the ugly truth is that I don’t always love the day-to-day work of planting seeds and watering them and, waiting.

Ashley of Not Without Salt posted some beautiful thoughts about vulnerability yesterday, describing how hard it can feel to expose yourself, without pretense and without walls, especially when you don’t know how someone will take it. I read it and liked her more than ever—that’s what vulnerability can do, right? build intimacy. I thought how necessary authenticity is to any kind of meaningful connection. And I thought about how I’ve been blessed to see this here, many times, as you’ve welcomed me in with open arms as I’ve poured out my heart about missing what’s familiar or a period of depression or how much I love my husband, and you’ve told me your stories, and I’ve tasted something nourishing, something real.

But what about when that nourishing response isn’t immediate? What about when you have to take the risk yourself, over and over, and then, wait?

cauliflower rice on stove

I hate waiting. If the minute I planted a seed—or took a friend to lunch, or told you the truth about my insecurities, or admitted the thing about which I’m most afraid—I saw results, some connection, well, then that would be different. That would be easy. That’s what I like about cooking: when I go to the kitchen, throwing oil and spices in the skillet, adding ground cauliflower like it’s rice, I’m almost guaranteed that, win or lose, there’s going to be something to show for it: dinner. Even if it’s a terrible dinner, at least it’s something I can see, something I can look at as proof of my effort.

But when I make the little investments of trying to build new relationships, of putting myself out there to be vulnerable, on the other hand, something I’ve been going at since I moved last year, sometimes all it feels like is slow. Slow and pointless. Slow like it’s never going to bear fruit. Slow like why-can’t-I-go-back-to-the-already-tended-and-thriving-gardens-I-left-in-Chicago?

cauliflowerrice_inbowl

I’ve wanted to stop trying. Just talk on a surface level or, better yet, retreat to my introversion and stay tucked in at home with Tim—and sometimes I do.

As I was thinking about these things this past Sunday, I flipped through a free magazine and, providentially, saw the Robert Louis Stevenson quote posted above, reminding me to measure the seeds, not the harvest, of my days.

The seeds, not the harvest.

Those words brought real relief. All creation cries it out! This is His promise! Be not weary in well-doing, because, you can believe it, seeds will bring harvest, nurturing will bring life, you will reap if you faint not. Waiting may be the hardest part, but you won’t wait forever; just as there are seasons of planting, there are seasons when you watch things grow.

I’m hanging on to that promise today, as I keep on watering and waiting, watering and waiting, and I don’t just mean the plants.





On Cauliflower Fried Rice: Turns out this has been the Spring of the Cauliflower in our home, as we’ve marveled at its ability to be delicious roasted, as pizza crust and, now, as a truly believable faux-rice. After grinding it up in your food processor, you can use it in any sort of pilaf or fried rice you like. Here are two we’ve loved.

Cauliflower Fried Rice with Cashews and Coconut
Adapted from Heribvoracious
Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side

I know it seems like extra work to toast the cashews and coconut ahead of time for this one, but people, do it. The resulting blend of textures, at once crunchy and soft, are such a treat.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons unsweetened dried coconut
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup ground cauliflower*
Juice of 1/2 lime
Crushed pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:
Toast the cashews in a large skillet (ideally well-seasoned cast iron) over medium low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Toast the coconut in the same skillet and reserve.

Next, add the coconut oil to the skillet and warm it over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and ginger and fry until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add good cracks of salt and pepper. Add the garam masala and turmeric. Stir in the ground cauliflower, the cashews and the coconut. Remove from heat. Squeeze in the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as you like (I also added in some crushed red pepper, but this is optional).





Indian Curry Cauliflower Fried Rice
Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side dish

This recipe is a play on my family’s chicken curry, with cauliflower used instead of meat and a few minor cooking changes made. As written, it’s mildly spicy (enough that eating a bowlful makes me go, wow!) but you can easily adjust to the heat level you like best.

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil, if you prefer)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon ginger powder
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 to 1.5 cups of ground cauliflower*
½ Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 to 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 to 2 Tablespoons ground cardamom
1 to 2 Tablespoons ground coriander

Directions:
In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, warm coconut oil and butter. Add ginger and stir. Add chopped onion and garlic and stir, letting the pieces soften and the onions turn translucent. Add cauliflower and sprinkle with crushed red pepper, cumin, cardamom and coriander. Toss thoroughly until all the cauliflower is thoroughly coated and warmed. If it seems too dry, you can add a little water. Adjust spices to taste.

*The same process is used to grind the cauliflower for this recipe as for the cauliflower pizza crust. Essentially, break up the florets and put them in a food processor until they resemble rice.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

    1. Shannalee

      Yikes, that was my fault, Ellen—some kind of technical mistake in saving drafts that erased the first recipe’s ingredients and directions. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve updated it above.

  1. Vicki

    I LOVE your garden metaphor for life and for cooking. Last summer I got a free tomato plant outside the train station in Chicago. Things started out well: bought it a cage, got good potting soil with nutrients, had room in the pot to plant surplus flowers. Did everything but take the time to water it every day. Took all summer to finally get some tomatoes but in the end I threw them away because they were very tiny and never turned red. I plan to try again this year and swear I’ll be better about watering the tomato plant and my other flowers. We’ll see in July if I keep up my promise. :) Good luck with all of your gardens!!!

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks for that encouraging comment, Vicki. You really don’t know how nice it is to hear someone say they get it. I’ll be holding out hope for your 2012 tomato plants, even as I hold out hope for my flowers, my friend-making and life. Please let me know if in a few months it’s thriving–that would be so nice to celebrate!

    1. Shannalee

      Why do I feel like you’re probably an excellent gardener? Am I right? I have this gorgeous film image burned in my memory of your parents tending their garden and I just have this sense that they’ve passed that trait on to you. Jealous, a little, but I like you too much not to feel great joy at the thought of it. Thanks for your sweet comment!

      1. Jacqui

        Ha! Murdo and I joke that the only traits my mom passed along to me are her dishwasher arranging skills and her uncanny ability to match a pot of leftovers with the correct-sized storage container. You’ll look at the container, look at the leftovers and think, Yeah right, no way that’s fitting. Then she’ll fill it just under the rim. It’s amazing. But I’d much rather have the green thumb. :)

  2. Renee

    I moved to a new city about 4 years ago and the first year was pretty tough, trying to make friends and to feel connected to others besides my cats and my mom…but eventually I met a couple of great friends and now I have a thriving little circle of close girlfriends whom I adore. So, your efforts will be fruitful, but I know how much it sucks to wait. Love your post and the fried rice looks absolutely delicious.

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  4. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator

    Shanna, my friend Caroline and I have had this conversation many times. It’s difficult to make friends once you leave college. You tend to have proximity friendships… because of work, or neighbors… or situational friendships, because of babies or sailing or puppies. But real true friendships, ones that nurture your soul, are rare and to be treasured. I am so glad to have met you and Tim, and I hope we can continue our friendship through our blogs. Thank you for opening yourself. And, if you haven’t watched Brene Brown’s TED talk (and her TEDx talk) on vulnerability, do so now.

    1. Shannalee

      You’re hitting on so many true things here, Stephanie, especially about the proximity and situational nature of many friendships being formed. True friendships are rare indeed—all the more reason to treasure them once they’re formed! And PS I love when people tell me about TED talks. Just watched the one you recommended, and I thought she made a powerful case for how vulnerability is both the thing that brings pain and shame AND the thing that brings joy and connection. When we numb ourselves to the first one, we also numb ourselves to the second.

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