Winter Cauliflower

It was a delicacy we had only once, but my family still speaks of it decades later. Mom’s cauliflower goo was before its time. Today she could call it “cauliflower mash,” an ingenious carb substitute!

In my pre-FoodTV youth, overcooked (and/or canned) vegetables were the norm. My family hadn’t even tried Chinese take-out yet. But my Dad, brother, and I knew something was wrong with this cauliflower. While the florets on our plates looked in tact, they dissolved on contact with the butter knife.

“What’s up with this cauliflower,” we asked.

“I don’t know. It must be winter cauliflower,” Mom replied.

She’s still trying to live down that creative excuse.

Over the years, we’ve added other stories to the lore of Mom’s innovative cooking. She hates cooking. Cooking wasn’t going to get much attention.

Salads consisted of lettuce leaves barely cut or ripped, often too large to shove in your mouth. I haven’t eaten a salad made by my mother in almost twenty years, but I still call non-bite size pieces of lettuce “Mumsie lettuce,” an obnoxious yet amusing phrase coined by my Dad. Even my husband says it now, which really fries Mom’s ass. Once again, she was before her time. Today, countless restaurants cut iceberg into huge wedges, throw some blue cheese on top, and call it cuisine. Annoying, because if I wanted to have to cut my salad, I’d eat at Mom’s.

Mom can cook. I still remember her mac and cheese fondly. She makes good stuffing too. I look forward to her (green-frosted) orange cookies every Christmas (probably the only reason I avoided contracting scurvy as a picky child). No matter what the proliferation of cooking shows implies, we can’t all be accomplished chefs. I don’t like to cook either. The kitchen in our temporary rental house during high school probably still smells like the burned Rice-A-Roni I forgot I was making one afternoon. I took the saying about pots literally. Who can be bothered to watch a pot boil anyway?

Photo credit


Winter Cauliflower

Remove outer leaves and core from a head of cauliflower. Cut into florets.

Add 3 quarts of salted water to a saucepan and bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets to the boiling water.

Boil florets for 10-20 minutes or until cauliflower no longer has mass.


This week’s RemembeRED memoir prompt:

“Take me back…whether to a month ago or decades ago.

Share with me a special recipe, but don’t just list out ingredients.

Take me there…in 500 words or less.”

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

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26 Responses to “Winter Cauliflower”

  1. earlybird
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Cauliflower is one of the vegetables I think actually tastes nicer well cooked than so underdone it threatens to skid off your plate when you try to cut it. I shall call mine winter cauliflower from now on!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

      I actually prefer my cauliflower a little overcooked too. But I still like to bust Mom’s chops anyway.

  2. Rebecca Latson Photography
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Once again I got another good chuckle for the day from reading this. Your mother and mine must have gone to the same home economics class. I too remember canned veggies and overlooked broccoli and cauliflower.

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

      The canned asparagus (gasp!), so much canned asparagus. I’m having a bad flashback now.

  3. Galit Breen
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    I love that you added in a recipe for winter cauliflower! I also love your clever phrases in here – “fries mom’s ass” and “Mumsie lettuce” really caught my eye.

    The humor and enjoyment that you bring here is perfect- so what cooking and family should be about!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

      Thanks, Galit! Couldn’t help but throw in a recipe for those who just had to have some winter cauliflower!

  4. Skoteinia
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Oh that made me laugh! Same reason as Galit! ‘Fried Mom’s ass!” What a great image in a piece about cooking. And the big lettuce thing, and what the restaurants call ‘cuisine’? Well placed humour in a short piece, bravo :)

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks! I love food and have many recipe-related memories. But when I asked my husband what he thought I should write about and his reply was “Mumsie lettuce,” I knew I had to write about Mom.

  5. Abby
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Cauliflower is a fickle thing, in that while I love it steamed, it does not love me back. I think it’s the only vegetable that will stage a digestive revolt in my system. Sigh…even winter cauliflower.

    My mom is actually a great cook, but she’s also a meat/cheese-centric freak, so I’ve been making my own food for decades. I suppose her talents were wasted on me…

    Anyway, great post 😉 Your personality shines through.

    • Dot
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      How much ridicule can one person take. Now the story is out there for the whole world to see. I laughed out loud in parts.

      • logyexpress
        Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

        I was wondering what it would take to make you comment here…love you, Mom!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

      Thanks, Abby! Cauliflower doesn’t always love me either. But I’ve always liked it, even as a kid. Even when it’s a little mushy (you know, because it’s out of season!).

      I was a vegetarian for a very short while in graduate school. But my husband is a great cook and he is pretty meat-centric too. I hate cooking, so I eat what he cooks.

  6. christina
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    hehehe i freaking love this. so much about this. :) especially that your hubs now refers to big hunks of lettuce as Musie Lettuce. :)

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      Thanks Christina! You know your spouse is a member of the family when they can break in with the inside jokes.

  7. Anastasia
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    You are so right. Now in trendy restaurants pureed anything is a big deal. Maybe your mom should consult?

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

      I was surprised when I realized both of the cooking “failures” that first came to mind are sort of trendy now. But I couldn’t fit in the story of the cake that she turned into ash. I don’t think anyone’s into blackened cake.

  8. jesterqueen1
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    I found you from the RemembeRed linkup, and I absolutely SWEAR I had not yet read the other comments when I picked my favorite phrase:

    “Even my husband says it now, which really fries Mom’s ass. ”

    If you ever need a refresher in winter cauliflower. In case, you know, you miss it or something, and you can’t quite kill yours dead enough, just head to the nearest Golden Corral. I think they may have been in home ec with your Mom and Rebecca Latson’s up there!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

      Don’t worry, the comment thing (people picking my favorite line first) always happens to me too! I’ve used the phrase “fries (insert person here) ass” for as long as I can remember. Usually something is frying my ass, I’m easily annoyed!

      There doesn’t seem to be a Golden Corral conveniently located to me. Bummer.

  9. cinquecentoproject
    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    Great post! You are really witty and you just slip the zingers into your prose effortlessly, or so it seems. Although I enjoyed the humor of this piece, I have to say that you “took me back there” as the prompt demanded. You had me with you at the dinner table, easily imagining the camaraderie that comes from family inside jokes and making me miss my nuclear childhood family while simultaneously thinking about my current family and our inside jokes and table humor. Brava!

    • logyexpress
      Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

      Thanks, Jill! Some of the posts I’ve written for these memoir prompts have been a little heavy, so I like to lighten things up when possible. And I finally got my Mom to comment! Win!

  10. kelly garriott waite
    Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    I loved this post – And as someone not so interested in cooking (much better things to do), I can totally relate.

    • logyexpress
      Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 2:16 am #

      Thanks, Kelly! I’m glad my husband likes to cook. Otherwise, I’d be eating a lot of french toast.

  11. May
    Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Laughing so hard at the cooking instructions! Also, feeling like my kids could relate so much to this post. Cooking is a whole lot like rule following. Do this with that much of something then do this next thing….who needs it?!

    • logyexpress
      Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 2:17 am #

      Thanks, May. I felt like the recipe was key.

      The weird thing is I love to bake, which in some ways is even more strict. I can’t explain it.

  12. Renee McKinley (@2old2tap)
    Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I was raised on canned veggies and overcooked cauliflower. I had to learn to like it done right. But you’re right, she must have been ahead of her time. Mashed cauliflower is now a replacement for mashed potatoes in recipes.

    • logyexpress
      Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 2:20 am #

      Renee, I sort of prefer my cauliflower a little overdone now, actually. I probably like it best roasted. Tastes a little sweeter to me that way.

      I get annoyed when restaurants try to give me cauliflower mash as a potato substitute. I understand the low carb thing, but I love potatoes and they’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands.

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