November 11, 2007

The Grain

Somtime last summer I signed up for a grain CSA, through a one-woman, biodynamic farm in Siskiyou, County, about 300 miles north of me. It's well out of the 100 mile foodshed I'd originally (naively?) hoped to call my own. But a girl-with-farming-in-her-ancestry turned city-slicker doesn't really know that the 100 mile radius around her house doesn't provide a cool enough climate for most grains. Until I started investigating a source for local flour.

At that time, flour, in its generic form, was about all I was looking for...

Behold my freezer today:
Kamut flour
Red Hard Wheat flour
Soft Pastry flour
Rye flour
The best whole-grain, hot cereal and pancake mix!

To give you an idea of the diversity of grains used (and crops rotated! with respect for the soil!) on the farm, here's the contents of the pancake mix: Oaxacan green dent corn, teff, flax seed, orange popping amaranth, len wheat, rye, Ethiopian hulless barley and hulless oats.

Our breakfasts, which are now a rotation of hot cereal, pancakes or yogurt along with our pastured eggs from Eatwell, or bacon from Deck, have had a significant impact on how I feel as I go about my day. When my first-born was a baby, I followed the Super Baby Food diet, giving him the author's special blend of whole grain cereal. It's touted in the book as a super food because of it's incredible nutritional value based on the variety of grains. It was a bit of a pain to concoct from the bulk bins at the natural food store, and I never really ate it for myself. I abandoned it for plain oatmeal sometime around the second year. Suddenly, out of this grain CSA, I've been handed a cereal with more grain diversity than Ruth Yaron could wrap her brain around and all I have to do is soak it the night before and cook it for a short amount of time in the morning. No grinding your own grains! No messy kitchen! No hour-of-cooking early in the morning!

I've been eating it regularly for about six weeks now, and doggonit, ol' Ruth was right! (I just thought she was a well-informed bat.) I feel deeply satisfied, with stable blood-sugar for most of the rest of the day. Haven't had a single sniffle since (we'll see how I fair this winter under the plagues-of-preschool, but six weeks is a long time for the mother of two small children to go without a cold.). And here, I'm going to step off the firm foundation of secular cynicism that guides my entire life, and say: I feel really, freaking good inside all the time. Yes, I'm a born-again Grain freak.

This next month we'll be getting some beans... they come in the CSA rotation as well. They'll go nicely with the simple lunches I've been preparing for myself, inspired mostly by a conversation with Miche last summer about her work lunches.

Here's the formula:

Advance preparation (can be done on the weekend):
In separate bowls, soak a large batch of your whole grain of choice and your legume of choice.
The next day, cook each separately according to cooking times for each.
Store separately in glass containers in the fridge.


mix together the following:  
1 cup grains
1 cup beans, or what ever ratio you prefer of the two
finely minced onions
diced vegetables such as: red peppers, green peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli, celery, cabbage, or whatever you happen to have in your crisper that goes crunch


one part acid of choice (me likey champagne vinegar!) to 3 parts oil of choice

acid goes in bowl, oil follows slowly as you whisk briskly. finish with salt and pepper.

toss the salad with vinaigrette until nicely coated. voila! healthy simple lunch!

I eat this 2-3 times during the week for lunch. It's healthy, satisfying and can look and feel very different week to week depending on the ingredients you use.


Janet said...

Love the simple lunch idea. Does Miche do this too?

Miche said...

I do! I have just used bulgur - it's really easy and fun because you can always change the contents. ;)