My Cauliflower Pizza Crust Challenge

I've been pretty obsessed with cauliflower lately. Healthy carbs! I even dreamed up a new business model wherein we create a spray-dried cauliflower powder that can be used just like flour. Cauli-flour, haha! Wait, I just thought of that, don't steal it.

Anyway, when I saw some of my favorite bloggers talking about cauliflower pizza crust, I had to try it out. I picked Run Eat Repeat's recipe because it uses less cheese than others. (This is grain- and gluten free, but not dairy free.) Please visit RER's page for the actual recipe since I don't want to rip her off! My challenge in pictures:

Organic cauliflower costs about $10, so I got conventional

Recipe ingredients include garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and eggs

Shredded Cauliflower

Favorite toppings--I also added baby spinach leaves

Cook the cauliflower in a skillet

Ingredients include cheese

Ingredients were decidedly GLOPPY once combined

You're supposed to smooth it, shape it and bake until firm

Add toppings and bake a bit more to finish


Uh-oh, it's still gloppy. See how the right-hand piece disintegrated on one side?
It tastes good though!

Notes: Clearly, like a Camembert, this pizza crust was "a bit runny." I might make it again, but I'd be sure to thoroughly drain, dry, perhaps even squeeze out the cooked cauliflower before combining with other ingredients. Or I might try a different way of cooking it (I steam-fried it with a bit of water so it wouldn't burn, which was maybe a mistake). The pizza did firm up a bit as leftovers.

I liked the taste combination of garlicky cauliflower with the pleasantly metallic flavour of canned olives. Maybe that's just me, but they seem perfect together. Spinach and pepperoni were also nice. Next time I might try goat cheese, radicchio, artichoke hearts, maybe even blue cheese if I had it. If you have to be gluten free or just love cauliflower like me, I recommend trying cauliflower pizza crust!

My challenge for January 2013 was Kusa.

What crazy recipes have you been making? Or eating?

The "Perfect Week"

I'm shooting for a "Perfect Week" this week! This is a fitness term that I made up. It means I do every workout type thing that I planned to do on every day that I planned to do it. Ideally I plan to work out 6 days a week. So, if I accomplish that goal then it's a "Perfect Week"! They don't happen very often, but that's cool.

Can you guess before reading which day has no exercise planned?
  • Monday: I do my own weights routine using a HIIT app I downloaded to my phone (HIIT=high intensity interval training). Basically this is a timer that I set to help me do a given exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds, for 20 times in a row. That means the whole thing just takes 20 minutes. I try to use my 8-pound weights and/or my 12-pound kettlebell.
  • Tuesday: Run day--3.5 miles, ideally a progression run that gets faster with each mile
  • Wednesday: SPINNING class (In the summer time there are also biweekly fun runs) 
  • Thursday: Boot camp! I love this 6am class. It is so challenging. This morning we did about 100 abs exercise repetitions all together, plus insane combos of pushups and running in place and whatnot. But it's doable because we're all in it together, and I love the instructor (my former trainer and former former daycare provider!) I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow... 
  • Friday: 4-mile run with hills 
  • Saturday: REST! We have a deal in our house that I get to sleep in on Saturdays, and in return I get up early on Sundays (to be with the kids, who get up around 6am) 
  • Sunday: LR. In running speak this means "Long Run." I am playing with the distance this year and trying to add one mile each month to my LR. I've gotten up to 6 miles at a time so far, and that's on a treadmill so it's LOOOOOONg. 
Anyway, I just have 2 more workout days to hit a perfect week. They're both runs, which I don't tend to miss, so I think this is going to happen! Wish me luck!

Do you have weekly goals you try to meet? Tell me more!

Brooks PureFlows: New Running Shoes!

This is the first time in many years (since 1995 maybe?) that I've tried running right through the winter. In the mid-90s I was in grad school with University of Toronto gym access, so exercising in all seasons was easy. Since then I would always quit running around Thanksgiving and pick it up again around March or April. There were also a few years where I didn't run at all because... babies. This time around I've joined a local gym (and so has my husband, I'm so proud of him!), and I'm going there 3 times a week to hammer out miles on the treadmill. My membership expires on the first day of Spring and then I head back outdoors.

At the gym, I'm learning the obvious, which is that treadmills are pace specific. Outdoors, I tend to run at whatever pace feels good for the song I'm listening to on my iPod--I sprint or jog at will. But on a treadmill I can't just go faster unless I actually press a button and make it happen. So instead of pressing that button, I'm trying to stay on pace and concentrate on form. Every time a song gets awesome and I feel like taking off all gazelle-like, I pour that energy into higher knees, better foot-strikes, and snappier heel kicks while still running at the same speed. Basically, I'm working on maintaining an even pace for long distances, and then tweaking how I run within that set parameter. So scientific, eh? (I'm also learning about endurance thresholds, which apparently are great for metabolism and building muscle and increasing mileage, but aren't actually that fast. It's a reversal to hold yourself to a slower speed than you feel like.)

To aid the experiment, I bought new shoes.
They are Brooks PureFlows. Purple, yes!

Here are my old shoes, Saucony Guide TR trail shoes. I won them in a race in 2009 but didn't start wearing them in earnest until 2012.

Meanwhile, running shoes seem to have completely changed, with increased emphasis on "heel drop" and footstrike. Check out the difference between my high-heeled Saucony's and the relatively flat Brooks shoe on the left.

The new Brooks also has some mid-foot/arch area support (that white knob) that seems designed to help the foot roll forward and maybe avoid striking the heel so much.

There is also split toe technology where the sole is deeply indented at the front, apparently to allow the big toe to function independently, whatever that means (I saw that explanation on a shoe review site, not a Brooks site. By the way, don't you love that use of the word "technology" to describe a feature? My pants have zip-fly technology: whoa!!) Anyway, I can't figure out whether it's this split-toe thing or whether it's because I'm trying to increase my mileage, but I've been having a bit of toe pain since switching shoes.

Incidentally, Brooks has already put out the PureFlow 2--I'm not even sure you can get the PureFlow any more except in the backwaters of Vermont.

Tips for switching shoes: Do you have any? What I gather from running sites and various shoe store personnel is that one should introduce the new shoe slowly, just for a mile or so as you ease your feet and body into the new structure. However, I am too lazy or stubborn to stop mid-run and change my shoes (which is totally possible! Because I'm not going anywhere on a treadmill!), so I just stick it out in the new shoes mile after mile. On my most recent long run, a Sunday 6-miler, I felt perfectly comfortable from miles 1-5. Then I started messing with the settings (faster pace, less of an incline), and almost immediately my right toe started to hurt. I'm thinking the best shoe-switching advice for me right now is just Don't Mess with Success. What do you think?

Felt Faces

Sometimes my first-grader gets great homework assignments.* Today's was to create a sock puppet with buttons and fabric (and a sock, of course). The project reminded me of some felt activities I made for her a few years ago, so I dug them out of the basement for us to revisit. These felt faces were inspired by a kids activity/exhibit at the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center. Incidentally, I would have made these whether or not I had children. This can be a fun project for anyone.

Use a black piece of felt for your background. The black background can also be taped/stuck to a wall for vertical applications--felt sticks to felt. As you can see, a few common elements can be mixed & matched to create neat faces.

I added the purple unibrow and purple hair for exhibition purposes, otherwise my toddler made these fabulous bald people!

Here are some of the elements deconstructed. Just cut out shapes for long/short/styled hair, noses, eyebrows, mouths, etc., from whatever color felt you prefer. Eyes require an extra step--sew a colored circle onto a white eye shape. Use black thread to create a built-in pupil. (I turned one of the eyeballs over here to show the sloppy sewing.) Of course other features would be great, like tattoos or moles or parrots or undereye circles or whatever.

These cut-out faces are ready for creativity! As I cut them out I just tried to remember my high-school art class equation: ears go halfway down the face.

I think these might be great for a car-trip someday but my kids are still a bit clumsy (they would drop everything before getting it in place). Have you tried felt-on-felt crafts like this?

*Her homework is all pre-assigned on weekly "Homework Connections" sheets from The Education Center, Inc. For each day there are 3 choices, and she picks one to do. I think most of the assignments are creative and great. I only shudder because as a former education writer, I empathize with whoever had to write these things. Nice job, anonymous employee!

Silicone lids to replace plastic wrap

I worry about excess packaging. I've also started to feel guilty about using plastic wrap. But I love plastic wrap! It is so handy for when you don't have a lid for something. Is there a "greener" alternative?

Our local coop has started stocking Charles Viancin silicone lids, in several sizes, so I splurged on a pair of the "Lily Pad" lids. Can they work instead of plastic wrap?

Lily Pad lids are prettier than plastic wrap.

Say you have a small dish of cucumber that needs to be sealed up...

Simply apply silicone lid.

The lid gets good suction. I can lift the whole dish!

This is the smallest size lid, they also come in at least two more sizes. Other designs include a pretty pink hibiscus and a sunflower. Not only can you refrigerate with these, you can also use them for reheating. Apparently.

I haven't yet given up plastic wrap (or sandwich bags--can they make those in silicone?), but I'm using less of it, mostly because it's so fun to fit an adorable lily pad on instead. (I also try to take cloth tote bags to the grocery store, and I try to remember glass mason jars for bulk items, and I also want to throw away almost everything in my home. Maybe that's not quite related...)

What about you--have you been feeling guilty about plastic? Are you trying any substitutions? Or DOING WITHOUT?!

New clothes! Beware!

I am really liking the Stitch Fix mail-order styling service that I apparently subscribe to. This is my third shipment so I should probably admit that I'm into it. Stitch Fix lets me set how often I get shipments, and I keep setting it to once a month!

So far the box looks different each time. It's still early days for the company,
so I like to imagine them constantly coming up with new ideas for logos and packing tape.

Another new feature: A 3-step explanation printed inside the box,
and an invoice placed FACING THE SAME DIRECTION. Nice!

Item 1: Calafia Wrap Jersey Dress from 41Hawthorn
This wrap dress feels amazing, which makes sense given it's cozy jersey. I like the color, black. I like the length. It feels crazy trying a short-sleeved LBD in January, but I think I'll love having this come July. Also my husband likes it very much. Keeper!

Selfridge Cowl Longsleeve Tee, 41Hawthorn

I love me some crazy cowlnecks, but there are limits. My first two Stitchfix shipments contained  awesome cowlnecks, but they were so deeply cut and floppy that I worried about "overexposure." But look! This cowlneck is my favorite black. It also has a lining in front so I don't have to worry so much about leaning over. Or breathing. KEEPER!

Filbert Elbow Sleeve Popover Top in Orange by Angie
I love orange. I said so in my Stitchfix profile. But this is not orange. It is coral. Or salmon. Or some kind of... blancmange? Also it is a strange rayon fabric. I was slightly interested in the cut: scooped at the sides, scalloped at the elbows, little shoulder tabs. If it were silk and black... I'd consider it.

Rickhouse Ruffle Trim Cardigan, Tea N Rose
This is a gorgeous knit! Thin and warm, dark charcoal color. Sadly, I pretty much hate the intense clown ruffles. Womp womp. :(

Crinkle Gauze Scarf, Mystree

Crinkle Gauze Scarf up close
I love the crinkles! Texture like this is right down my alley. However the tallow-ish color and Made-in-China aspects were not so great.

I'm taking a leap and scheduling my next Fix a little further out--in early April.

I continue to recommend Stitch Fix if you don't mind spending at least $20 to try on 5 possibly awesome items picked especially for you! So far I seem to actually spend between $35 and $100 per shipment, because of course I always have to buy something, and sometimes two things. I was not paid to write this review, it's just my opinion, though if you use this link to join up, I'd get a credit.

P.S. This post is named after a quote from Henry Thoreau's "Walden," where he writes, "I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes." Thanks to "Mr. Emerson" for keeping Thoreau by us all.