Posts Tagged ‘chia seeds’

Kitchen Staples: Injera

October 2009 014
Flatbreads are a handy kitchen trick to have up your sleeve for times when you don’t want to bother with raised breads or they won’t suit the meal you have in mind. Since they don’t need to rise, they are not gluten-dependent and make a great vehicle for a variety of whole grains.
The Ethiopian flatbread called injera is made from a fermented batter that give it a frothy texture and a charming lightly sour flavor. Traditionally it’s made from the tiny grain called Teff. Of course it’s good with Ethiopian food, but I love it with many Indian dals as well as with salads and grilled meats. It serves as your table utensil; pieces are torn off and used to scoop up whatever you’re eating it with.
In this country most recipes are bastardized versions that don’t involve any fermenting. Some add vinegar to get the soured flavor. But why not just do it right? I keep a sourdough culture around and find plenty of uses for it, and it makes injera as well as it makes standard breads. You can always capture your own starter, but I like the South African starter from sourdough fanatic Ed Wood, at Sourdo.com. It does a great job of souring and leavening whole grain flours. You can use commercial yeast instead but the flavor won’t be as good. Every homestead, urban or otherwise, needs a good sourdough starter around, so consider starting one now, but if you don’t want to bother, I include directions for commercial yeast. In my next few posts I’ll include some recipes that are good to eat with your injera.
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The Joys of Summer: fruit crumbles

september 2009 004
The stands at the farmers’ markets are full of fruit right now, and after you’ve eaten all that you can eat raw, it’s fun to make a special dessert here and there. This one is delicious, healthy as desserts go, and nearly as easy as eating the fruit raw.
Currently I’m experimenting with chia seeds in cooking and have found that, unlike many whole grains, they can actually taste good in desserts. I use them lightly toasted, and they add a pleasant nutty flavor as well as an extra nutritional punch to many dishes. Please see the end of this post for directions on toasting them.
This crumble is good with nearly any fruit. Apples, berries of all kinds, plums (especially the dry-fleshed prune plums that are showing up in the farmers’ markets right now)and figs are all successful. Click the link below the next photo to get the recipe. This photo shows a hot serving hidden under organic vanilla ice cream. After all, summer doesn’t last forever.
september 2009 002
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Kitchen staples: granola with chia seeds

may 2009 032

Kitchen experimentation is a lot of fun, but early in the morning on a busy workday I don’t feel very experimental. I want something comfortable and familiar, quick to prepare, healthy, and tasty. Oh yes, and I also want it to keep me feeling good all morning, not just give me a sugar rush to get me out the door.

       My homemade granola fits the bill perfectly. It offers whole grains, fruit, nuts, lots of fiber and antioxidants, and good flavor. If you eat it with yogurt, as I do, you get a good dose of healthy bacteria too. One easy kitchen job every 3-4 weeks keeps two people supplied with good breakfasts, plus an occasional handful out of the jar as a snack.

     I use agave nectar as the sweetener due to its low glycemic index and good flavor. I used to use vegetable oil but now use a light-flavored olive oil. This is a great vehicle for chia seeds, too. If you’ve read Christopher McDougle’s interesting new book Born to Run, you know about how the Tarahumara tribe uses chia seeds as an energy source. Personally, I won’t eat anything just because it’s good for me; it also has to taste good. In this recipe, chia seeds taste good.

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