Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Delicious: Grains at the Organic Markets

If you want to cook grains, start with plastic containers, then go to a crunchy supermarket.

Oats, bulgar, brown rice, couscous, etc. are delicious if you can find them and if you can keep them organized. I always ended up with a tangle of plastic bags and half-empty boxes. Until I bought tall containers, I never knew what I had, and I was never inspired to use them. I bought Decor Tellfresh containers, and they're great because you can jam more tall, thin containers on a pantry shelf. But buy anything that seals. The Container Store is expensive.

Grains are cheap. They're fun to try. They're super-nutritious. And you can get a world of beauties at Roots in Clarksville, David's Natural Market near downtown Columbia, or My Organic Market in "Columbia East."

Pick four or five grains to try. Start with two or three cups each to see what you like.

Go back for more of what tickles your fancy. Couscous for a simple side dish. Bulgar for salads. Barley for a
risotto variation. Rolled oats, quinoa and millet for breakfast cereal, then later for inspirations like "quinoa and carmelized onions." Wild rice for an exotic touch.

Borrow How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman from the library. He has descriptions and basic directions for two dozen grains. Then, he has 40 pages of recipes. (He also has recipes for lentils, which you should buy in bulk when you're trying the grains.) Or borrow Whole Grains Every Day Every Way by Lorna Sass. Her recipes are a little less accessible, but she has a brilliant section where she talks about making large pots of grain, then freezing them for future use.

My whole-grain weekend breakfast -- make several servings because you can store in the fridge and microwave a bowl for 2-3 mornings:

  1. Put six cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer.
  2. Set the timer for 40 minutes. Then add one cup of steel-cut oats. (They're different from rolled oats. Trader Joe's sells containers of steel-cut oats in the cereal section.)
  3. Cover the pot, but leave a crack so that it doesn't boil over. Stir occasionally throughout the rest of the time.
  4. When the timer says 25 minutes, add 1/3 cup of amaranth.
  5. When the timer says 20 minutes, add 1/3 cup of millet.
  6. When the timer says 15 minutes, add 1/3 cup of quinoa and 1/2 or more cups of raisins or other dried fruit.
  7. As the timer runs out, the cereal should be moist without standing water. It should be soft, but still have a little "bite to it. You can add a little water if it dries out or stick to the pot. You can cook it a few minutes more.
  8. When the cereal is done, add honey or brown sugar to your taste.
Try that once, then adapt to what you like. Use the grains in the mix that you like. Add wheat germ at the end if you want. Add fresh fruit like bananas or apples -- either early if you want them to disintegrate or late if you want a crunch. I'll eat this without sweeteners. Mrs. HowChow would consider that a punishment, not a treat.

You can borrow How To Cook Everything Vegetarian or Whole Grains Every Day from the Howard County library. Or you can buy either book on Amazon through these links (which means Amazon would pay me a referral fee):

My Organic Market (Columbia East)
7351 Assateague Dr. #190
Jessup, MD 20794

NEAR: It's on Rte 175 just east of I-95. There is a large shopping center on the right just after you cross Rte 1. Look for the Starbucks. MoM is in that shopping center. It's a bit tricky to return home. You have to exit east-bound on Rte 175 and U-turn at the next light.

David's Natural Market
5430 Lynx Lane
Columbia, MD 21044

NEAR: It's in the Wilde Lake shopping center near the Columbia Mall. The shopping center is on Twin Rivers Road. Turn in at the light with a KFC. David's is on the right in a building separate from the main village center. David's has a main store with dairy and packaged goods, then a separate produce store down the row.

Roots Market
5805 Clarksville Square Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029

NEAR: It's on Rte 108 just north of Rte 32. The Clarksville Square shopping center is on the west side filled with "crunchy" businesses owned by the same people -- a restaurant, a pet supply shop, a decorating place. Look for the Jiffy Lube on Rte 108.

No comments: