Sweet and sour wild rice and sauerkraut soup

December 3, 2020 at 10:55 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Grains, Rebecca Wood, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

I cooked up a big pot of my last bag of Minnesota wild rice, and neither Derek nor Alma was that into it. I love it, but was looking for something that they might like too. I looked in Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain and found a recipe for this strange Hungarian-inspired sweet and sour soup. It almost tastes Chinese to me, but it has wild rice and sauerkraut in it. I loved it, but neither Derek nor Alma was a big fan.

You saute leek and garlic in a pan, then add a stalk of celery and then the cooked wild rice. You add vegetable stock, a cup of sauerkraut, 2 Tbs. light Sucanat or light brown sugar, and soy sauce to taste. After it’s simmered a bit you beat an egg with a little water, then slowly stir the egg mixture into the hot soup. Finally, you garnish it with dill.

Bizarre, right? The dill didn’t do much for me, but I loved the sweet and sour broth (egg + sugar + soy sauce combination). And the sauerkraut and wild rice added some nice varied texture. I’d definitely make this soup again next time I have extra wild rice around.

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Buckwheat pancakes filled with asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms

April 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm (Cruciferous rich, French, Rebecca Wood, unrated)

I wanted to use up some buckwheat flour, and so I went straight to the buckwheat section of The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. The first recipe we picked was a very simple recipe for Sarrasin Crepes, the buckwheat crepes that are typical in Brittany. The recipe looked pretty typical, except that it calls for ground coriander. Read the rest of this entry »

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Autumn Soup of Wild Rice, White Beans, and Olives

December 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Fall recipes, Rebecca Wood, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

It seems to be soup season around here.  I picked this recipe (from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain) because it called for wild rice, which I almost never use.  Wood says that the flavors in this soup are from the mountains of central Greece, and that the soup has “stellar colors and flavors…. a fantastic play of sweet, sour, salty, and pungent”.   It’s not Autumn any more, but I had a jar of roasted bell peppers in the pantry, and all the other ingredients are reasonably wintery.  If you’re not using jarred bell peppers then you should prepare the peppers a day in advance to give them time to marinate.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinoa and winter squash potage

December 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Fall recipes, Grains, Quick weeknight recipe, Rebecca Wood, soup, Winter recipes)

Butternut squash season is short-lived here in Germany.  It seems to be available only for about six weeks, starting in early October.  I bought a bunch of butternut squashes, but somehow managed to use them all, save one, by early December!  I decided to use my last half of a butternut squash to try this simple soup recipe from the quinoa chapter in Rebecca Wood’s cookbook the Splendid Grain.  Wood is an expert on quinoa.  She was travelling around Peru and Bolivia researching her book Quinoa: The Supergrain in the mid 80’s, long before almost anyone else in the States had even heard of quinoa.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bengalese kamut and coconut stuffing

June 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Derek's faves, Grains, Indian, Rebecca Wood)

This post was originally entitled Grilled bitter melon stuffed with kamut and coconut.  The bitter melon was a disaster, but the Indian-flavored stuffing was quite tasty, and I finally got around to making it again, over five years later.  Rebecca Wood says the flavorings are a mix of New Mexican and Bengalese, but I get more of an Indian vibe than a New Mexican one.  I served this as a side dish with roasted cauliflower, but it would also be good as a stuffing for other veggies:  cabbage leaves, small pumpkins, summer squash…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Millet Fruit and Nut Quick Bread

June 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Dessert, Grains, Muffins and quick breads, Rebecca Wood)

This is an update of an older post, but I changed quite a few of the details so I thought it was worth reposting. I pulled some millet out of the freezer, and decided to give this recipe another try, with alterations based on my comments from the first version:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3/4-1 cup dried fruit (I used currants, dried pear, dried apple, dried cranberries, and sour Persian berries)
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 cups cooked millet
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop the dried fruit, and place in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up 1 cup of the orange juice to not-quite boiling, then pour over the dried fruit. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same saucepan, melt the butter, then add the honey and stir to combine well. Pour into the bowl with the dried fruit and let cool. Toast the almonds, and then chop them coarsely. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, or a 8×8 inch square banking pan.
  4. When the liquid has cooled, add the egg and mix well. Next, add the millet and and stir to break up any clumps. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and soda, and mix gently. Fold in the almonds. Pour the batter into a loaf pan or square baking pan, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

My notes: the texture of this cake was nice. It was moist and heavy and millet-y and crumbly, and held together quite well. The almonds didn’t add a lot of flavor, but I added a bit of texture, although I wish I had left a few of the nuts in slightly larger pieces. The tart Persian berries and cranberries were a great addition, but I couldn’t taste the other fruit individually. I liked the orange juice instead of the original apple juice. It adds just a touch of acidity which is lovely. This cake is not too sweet. It’s almost mid-way between a cake and a quick bread like Irish Soda Bread with raisins. It’s nice toasted with a little salted butter on top, or toasted and topped with warm milk. It’s still a tad bit low on the pizzazz factor, which would be helped perhaps by the use of some baking spices: cloves or cardamom or poppy seeds or black pepper maybe?

Rating: B

Update Dec 27, 2009

I cooked 1 cup of millet with 2 cups of water, 1 Tbs. butter, pinch of salt, pinch of cloves, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg.  It came out a bit wet, not sure why.  I used 1 cup of it for the cake.  I used 3/4 cup orange juice, plus a little that clung to the fruit after soaking.  In addition to the honey, I added 2 Tbs. of sweet syrup made from Derek’s failed honeycomb sugar experiment. I used only 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup cornmeal.  I used toasted walnuts instead of almonds, but forgot to measure them.  Maybe about 1/3 cup?  For fruit I used 3 dried peaches, 1 dried apricot, some raisins, some tart Persian berries, and a little crystalized ginger.  I baked the cake in a 9×9 square pan for 20 minutes, and the tester came out clean.

The cake was tasty.  I liked the addition of the cornmeal–it gave it a slightly grittier texture that was lovely.    The flavor was good, although I still think there’s some room to play around with spices.  Almond extract maybe?  Next time I’d add the cloves and nutmeg directly to the batter.  I liked the bigger pieces of walnuts–you could definitely taste them.  The addition of the honeycomb sugar syrup made the cake sweeter than last time–Derek didn’t try to add any sweetener.  He did add a little butter, however.  He said the cake was pretty tasty, but he wouldn’t ask me to bake it again.  Also, he didn’t like the tart berries. He was also confused about the recipe.  What is it, he wondered?  Dessert?  Breakfast?  Neither.  The next day Derek liked it better.  Derek rating: B.  My rating: B.  I think it’s a good recipe to have around if you want to use up some cooked millet or dried fruit, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to make it.  It would probably be good to serve in the afternoon with.  For this recipe:

Serving Size: 1/16 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 133
Total Fat 4.4g
Saturated Fat 1.7g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 19mg
Sodium 134mg
Carbohydrate 21.9g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Sugars 8.6g
Protein 2.5g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 10%
Calcium    2% Iron 3%

Original post: December 31, 2007

Last year Derek and I had a delicious millet cake at Green Zebra in Chicago, and ever since then I wanted to try my hand at replicating it, partly because it’s something different, and partly it’s because it’s the first time Derek ever liked millet. I did some googling, and turned up very little–one recipe with nuts and fruit, and a few made from millet flour rather than the whole millet. I decided to start with a recipe for Apricot Millet Breakfast Cake from The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood.

  • 1 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup (in case your fruit is very dry)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup cooked millet
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds

My own version of the instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop the apricots, and place with the cranberries and currants in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up 1 cup of the apple juice to not-quite boiling, then pour over the dried fruit. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same saucepan, melt the butter, then add the honey and stir to combine well. Pour into a large bowl and let cool briefly. Chop the pumpkin seeds, and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  4. When the fruit has been soaking for 15 minutes, pour it through a strainer, letting the juice fall into a 1-2 quart measuring cup. If there is more than 3/4 cup of juice, pour off some, and if there is less, add enough to make 3/4 cup (the amount yielded will depend on how dry your fruit was). Pour the juice into the large bowl with the butter and honey, then add the egg and mix well. Next, add the millet and fruit and stir to break up any clumps. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and soda, and mix gently. Fold in the pumpkin seeds. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a test comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

My Notes:
I misread the instructions and added 1 cup of apple juice instead of 3/4 cup, so then I was afraid my batter would be too wet so I added extra millet. The cake took 45 minutes to cook, rather than 30, probably because of my mistake. But in the end I liked it with the extra millet and juice, so I might actually do this on purpose next time!

I like the cake. It has a very similar texture to the one we had at green zebra~the millet is definitely noticeable, and adds a nice crumbliness to the cake. Like all of Rebecca Wood’s recipes, this cake tastes surprisingly simple, and is almost but not quite bland, with a little something elusive that makes it interesting, and keeps you going back for more.

I like that this cake uses real butter, but only 3 Tbs., and honey, but only 3 Tbs. I bet it would also be nice with olive oil instead of butter. The cake is sweet from the juice and fruit and honey, but not crazy sweet (although Derek did add maple syrup to his). I enjoyed the cake for dessert, and I had a slice toasted and covered in warm milk for breakfast, which was delicious.

All that said, I don’t think I would make this recipe again without substantial changes. I used white flour since I didn’t have whole wheat pastry flour, but I thought it could use a slightly more flavorful flour, either whole wheat or half white and half something else, maybe oat flour or cornmeal? The pumpkin seeds were subtle, but noticeable, and I didn’t dislike them, but next time would try another seed or nut instead, perhaps poppy or almonds. I don’t really care for dried apricots, so next time I make this I think I’d sub in some other dried fruit, maybe some dried apples to echo the apple juice flavor, or perhaps something very tart would be nice, something like barberries or unsweetened cranberries (although they’re very hard to find). I also might try adding just a pinch of a sweet spice like cloves or allspice or nutmeg perhaps, or maybe even cardamom.

Derek said the cake was “not bad, pretty good, needs to be sweeter.” He liked it warmed up with milk and honey or maple syrup over it, but wouldn’t touch it plain and room temperature.

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

Here’s the nutritional stats for 1/12 of a loaf pan:

Serving Size: 1/12 cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 176
Total Fat 4.8g
Saturated Fat 2.2g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 178mg
Carbohydrate 31.4g
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Sugars 13.9g
Protein 3.7g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 2% Iron 6%

It’s 24% fat, 68% carbs, and 8% protein. As a dessert that seems a bit low fat. For a breakfast, you’d clearly want to add more protein. But it’s only 175 calories so there’s room for a higher protein food. With a serving of lowfat yogurt or milk or regular soymilk the percents would be around 25%, 60%, 15%, which is more appropriate for breakfast.

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Jicama and Buckwheat Salad

December 5, 2006 at 6:30 pm (B_(3 stars, like), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

I like this salad from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. It’s hard to find recipes that call for kasha, and this one is worth hanging onto. The kasha flavor is definitely there, but distinctive. The combination of flavors is subtle, but unusual.  After a couple of days though the lime flavor mellowed and I felt like I needed some dressing on my salad.  I tried it once with field greens and 1/2 a grapefruit.  I thought it was a waste of the grapefruit.  On the other hand, I quite liked it with pomegranate seeds and/or Annie’s goddess dressing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grilled Millet and Butternut Squash Cakes (B)

October 12, 2006 at 9:06 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

This recipe is from Rebecca Wood’s The Splendid Grain.

Toast over high heat until the first seed pops:

  • 1 cup millet

then wash, drain and set aside (I skipped the washing step).

Toast for 1 minute, or until aromatic:

  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds (change to 1 Tbs?)
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (change to 2 tsp.?)

Combine in a medium saucepan the millet and spices, and:

  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger (change to 1 Tbs?)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, or until the millet has absorbed all the water. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat the grill. Add to the millet mixture:

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (increase to 3/4 cup?)

Wet your hands and blend the millet mixture to a fairly uniform consistency. Form into 12 cakes. Place on the grill and grill for about 3 minutes on each side until golden. Serve hot.

My Notes

I liked the texture and flavor of these “cakes”, but the flavor is very mild (my coworker snagged one then claimed they tasted like rice cakes). My favorite part was the outside, crispy, browned part. Wood says to grill them or pan-fry, but I baked them on a sprayed cookie sheet. I think if I was going to make this again I’d up all the seasonings a bit. Nonetheless, they’re very low calorie and make a pretty satisfying and healthy snack.

Rating: B

Nutrition Info for 1 Patty (with original ingredients):
Calories 67
Total Fat 1.4g
Saturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 99mg
Carbohydrate 14.4g
Dietary Fiber 1.1g
Sugars 0.6g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A 60% Vitamin C 7%
Calcium 1% Iron 8%

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Cream of Shiitake and Broccoli Soup

September 16, 2006 at 6:47 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Cruciferous rich, Miso, Rebecca Wood, soup, Vegetable dishes)

This recipe is from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood.

2 stalks broccoli
1 tsp. unrefined toasted sesame oil
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 small onion, diced
3 shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
5 Tbs. oatmeal
6 cups vegetable stock
6 Tbs. white or yellow miso
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
lemon juice

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the coriander and saute for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Add the onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the shiitake and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the broccoli stems and the oats and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the broccoli stems soften slightly. Add just enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender.
2. Put the miso in a bowl, add 2/3 cup of the remaining stock, and puree with a fork. Set aside.
3. Pour the soup into a blender and puree. Return to the pot. Add the remaining stock, broccoli florets, thyme and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-hihg heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the florets are just cooked. Stir in the miso puree and a dash of lemon juice. Simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

My notes
I used 1 tsp. of olive since I’ve heard it’s bad to heat up sesame oil, then added the sesame for flavor at the end. I wasn’t sure what she mean by trimmed mushrooms, but I cut off only the tips of the mushroom stems. Again, I wasn’t positive what “5 Tbs. oatmeal” meant, so I used rolled oats. I didn’t have fresh thyme, so used a number of stalks of thyme that had been dried very recently. I thought 6 Tbs. of miso sounded like way too much, so I started out with just 3 Tbs. The soup was sufficiently salty for me, but perhaps one more Tbs. would have enhanced the flavor even more.

I was intrigued by the combination of coriander and thyme. In the final product, I’m not sure I would have been able to pick out either spice, but the flavor was pleasant. I used a stick blender, and so the texture wasn’t totally uniform, but the chunks didn’t bother me. I’m not sure about leaving the florets unblended though. They very quickly started to turn a putrid green from sitting in the hot soup and I found the texture a bit distracting. Maybe if I had cut the florets into smaller pieces?

Rating: B-

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Polenta Nera (B-)

May 2, 2006 at 7:24 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Italian, Rebecca Wood)

Polenta nera means black polenta, although in actuality it’s more grey than black. In the north of Italy polenta made from buckwheat flour is a common “peasant” food. This recipe is from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook the Splendid Grain.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together the flour and water until smooth. Combine the stock, salt, and 1 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the flour mixture in a steady stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring as necessary, for about 7 minutes, or until quite thick and smooth. Pour into individual bowls as hot cereal (top with milk and maple syrup for breakfast), or pour into an ungreased pan, smooth the top, and let cool at room temperature until firm.

Cut the polenta into squares. Heat the remaining oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When warm, add the polenta squares. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

My notes:

Okay, I confess, I didn’t follow the recipe very closely. I thought it would be forgiving like regular corn polenta. So I just mixed it all together at once. But the texture was kind of like glue. Well, lumpy glue. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but lumpy glue doesn’t really “simmer.” So I kind of skipped that step. I tried a little porridge-style and the flavor wasn’t unpleasant–a very mild kasha taste. The texture was like over-mashed mashed potatoes though. Yuck. So I let the polenta cool and cut it into slices. I’m not sure if I didn’t let it cool long enough, or what, but the slices were much more sticky and less firm than regular polenta. But I formed about 16 “pieces”. Again, I didn’t follow the directions about frying, but put put 1/2 Tbs. oil down on a cookie sheet, then drizzled the other half over the top. I baked them at 500 degrees until they were crisp (about 15 minutes I think), then flipped them and cooked until the other side was crisp. I originally placed my cookie sheet on top of a cast iron pan to get it closer to the heating element, but then only the polenta on the edges was crisping so I removed it and it cooked more evenly.

In the end the top and bottom of the polenta got nice and crisp, but unlike corn polenta the inside stayed sort of soft and gooey. I really liked the crispy outside, and the contrast with the soft inside wasn’t unpleasant. I had to add extra salt though. 1/4 tsp. just didn’t cut it. I think if I make this again I will try 3/4 tsp. salt. But besides that follow the directions 🙂

So I liked the crispy polenta okay, but when I tried reheating in the toaster the next day it wasn’t particularly good. So I’d rate the porridge a D, the original broiled version a B-, and the reheated version a C.

Nutritional info for 4 pieces (of 16):
Calories 160
Total Fat 7.7g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 295mg
Carbohydrate 21.2g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 0.8g
Protein 3.8g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1%
Iron 7%

Rating: B-

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Whole Grains for Breakfast

April 28, 2006 at 3:14 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Grains, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Rebecca Wood, Soymilk)

Below I’ve listed two different ways I like to eat whole grains for breakfast.

Quinoa Barley Crockpot Breakfast Porridge

This recipe is from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook Quinoa, the Supergrain. The barley turns ooey gooey but the quinoa stays light and fluffy, which makes a lovely textural contrast. I pour a bit of soymilk on top and sprinkle on a bit of (fresh or dried) fruit and pecans. I often want hot cereal, but I get tired of oatmeal. I haven’t liked the 7-grain stuff I get at my local coop, but this hits the spot.


Place in a crockpot:

1/2 cup barley (I used hulled but not pearled)
1/2 cup quinoa
pinch of salt
4 cups of water

Set to “warm” and leave it overnight.

My notes

Seven hours later it was a bit burnt around the edges, but the middle was fine. If anyone knows any way to keep it from burning around the edges, let me know.

Update May 9, 2006: I tried a variant this morning, except I used 1 cup soaked steel cut oats, 1/2 cup hulled barley, and 1/2 cup quinoa. I also threw in 1/2 tsp. cardamom and a pinch of salt, and 5 cups of water. I left it on warm overnight. It made 6 cups cereal total, and it didn’t burn around the edges this time. The oats and barley, however, totally turned to goo, and I didn’t notice the nice contrast with the fluffy quinoa like I did last time. Also, I don’t know if it was the addition of the cardamom or the oats, but the flavor was much worse–they seemed muddier than the original barley/quinoa combo. I ate 1 cup with a fig and 1/2 ounce pecans, and it was edible but not particularly appealing. I read somewhere that to keep the oats from turning to goo in the crockpot it helps to start with ice water.

Update May 25th: I made the original recipe again, first spraying the crockpot with oil. I also woke up quite early randomly and so turned it off. It didn’t burn around the edges! And it’s a much more mild, less muddy flavor than when I tried it with oats and cardamom. It’s simple but light tasting and pleasant. There is a definite quinoa flavor that might take getting used to for some people, but I enjoy it. It made about 4.5 cups. I like to eat a serving as 3/4 cup, which is about 100 calories, that way I can add in another 100 calories worth of fruit and maybe 50 of a fat, and I have a filling, balanced, low calorie breakfast.

Update Oct 18th: I was too lazy to reheat my leftover porridge, so I just ate it cold. On 3/4 cup of porridge I poured 3 ounces of slightly sweet soymilk and 1 tsp. of maple syrup and mixed it up well. I really enjoyed it this way. It only has 6 grams of sugar but it tastes very sweet. It was a bit low on fat though. I should probably have added a Tbs. of nuts.

Oct 19th: I used 2/3 tsp. maple syrup and it was sweet enough. If I had unsweetened soymilk I think I would use 1-1.5 tsp of maple syrup.

Nov 2006: I ate a small serving with half a serving of cold cereal on top. Excellent combo!

Rating: B

Nutrition Facts

for Barley Quinoa Porridge (3/4 cup serving)

Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving
Calories 95
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 4mg
Carbohydrate 18.9g
Dietary Fiber 3.4g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 3.4g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% Iron 8%

Wheat berries for breakfast
I finally found a way I really like to eat wheat berries~cold, for breakfast, with regular cold breakfast cereal.

I made a stuffing with wheat berries, kamut, and a rice blend that includes short grain brown rice, wild rice, and purple rice. I toasted the wheat and kamut, then soaked them overnight, then added the rice blend and cooked them all together for about an hour (I think).

I had some of the plain grain mixture leftover so I’ve been eating it for breakfast cold. I use 1/3 cup of the grain mixture, and 1/2 my normal amount of a cold cereal. I add 1 Tbs. ground flax seeds and 3 ounces unsweetened soymilk. It’s delish! The chewy grains, and the way the wheat berries have that little “pop” when you bite into them, really adds something to the crunch of normal breakfast cereal. Plus, it is way more filling and satisfying than eating a normal bowl of cereal. When I eat a normal bowl of cereal I immediately want another (a mental thing), plus (even with a high protein/high fat cereal) I’m usually hungry pretty quickly (a physical thing). With the wheat berry mixture I’m very satisfied with just the one bowl (maybe it’s the extra chewing, or that it seems bulkier? who knows), and it holds me for much longer.

Finally, the stats are just what I aim for for breakfast. Depending on the cereal, the stats are about:
250-300 calories
25-30% fat (very little saturated)
15-20% protein
60-50% carbs
10.5g fiber

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Millet, Quinoa, and Burdock Pilaf (B)

April 28, 2006 at 1:35 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

This recipe is from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain. It doesn’t have the best nutritional stats in the world, but the stats certainly aren’t bad. I really enjoyed the dish when I first made it. I actually had a very hard time stopping with one serving. The instructions look a bit long but if you’re in the kitchen anyway this doesn’t actually take that much time or attention.

The wine adds sweetness, the millet provides a bit of a rough texture while the quinoa is softer, the sunflower seeds add a nutty flavor, and the burdock provides great depth of flavor. However, it was better eaten immediately. The flavors started to fade a bit over the next couple days.

1 plump burdock root, about 10 inches long (I used 2 cups chopped)
1.5 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots or onions
1 tsp. kosher salt (less if table salt)
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups unsalted vegetable or chicken stock (I used homemade vegetable broth)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup millet, toasted
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
2 Tbs. minced fresh tarragon

Heat the oil in a large saucepan (I used a 4qt pan) over medium heat. Meanwhile, wash and trim but do not peel the burdock and slice it into thin rounds. When the oil is hot, add the burdock and saute for 5 minutes or until it softens. Meanwhile, chop the shallots. Add the shallot and saute for about 5 more minutes, or until it is translucent. Meanwhile, toast the millet. Add the salt, pepper, stock, and wine and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, toast the sunflower seeds. Add the millet. Lower the heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the quinoa. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the sunflower seeds and tarragon and gently and gently mix, fluffing rather than compressing the grains. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4. I ate 1.5 servings and a green vegetable for a very satisfying meal.

Note: I found the tarragon flavor interesting, but not necessary to the dish. I would have liked it without it as well.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 225
Total Fat 6.6g
Saturated Fat 0.8g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 297mg
Carbohydrate 32.1g
Dietary Fiber 3.7g
Sugars 1g
Protein 5.4g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 3% Iron 13%

Rating: B

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Locro (South American Soup)

April 28, 2006 at 1:24 pm (A (4 stars, love, favorite), Beans, Beans and greens, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, Mexican & S. American, Rebecca Wood, soup, Winter recipes) ()

This is a recipe from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. She describes Locro as a substantial South American soup-stew, traditionally eaten by “plucking small rounds of corn from the soup with the fingers.” She says Locro is a meal in one that always contains a grain and sometimes meat or fish. The combination of ingredients may seem a bit strange, but she claims that beans similar to anasazi beans as well as many varieties of seaweed are sold at Indian markets in Bolivia. The ingredient list is long but the soup is so complex-tasting and satisfying that it’s worth the effort. Wood says to make this soup only in corn season, and it is better with fresh corn, but I’ve also used frozen corn and enjoyed it nonetheless.


  • 1/2 cup anasazi beans
  • 1/3 cup whole or pearl barley
  • 1 stick (3 inches) kombu
  • 8 cups veg. or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. anise seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small leek, sliced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced very thickly [original recipe called for 2 shiitakes, chopped]
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced celery root
  • 1 ear fresh corn, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 new mexican chili, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 cups chopped collards or kale
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Soak the beans.
  2. Put the barley in a saucepan over med-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until grains begin to pop and turn a shade darker. Combine the barley, soaked beans, kombu and stock in a soup pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour.
  3. Warm the oil in a large saute pan over med. heat. Add the anise seeds and cook for 1 minutes, or until they become aromatic. Add the garlic, leek, mushrooms, celery root, and corn. Lightly saute each one before adding the next. Saute until vegetables just begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Scrape the vegetables until the soup, add the chili, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Remove and discard the kombu or chop it into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot. Add the collards and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook ten minutes more.
  4. Ladle into bowls and serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

My notes:

I used roman beans since I couldn’t find anasazi, and frozen corn rather than fresh. My favorite part of the soup were the mushrooms (I never would have thought to put shiitake’s in a south americna soup) and the celery root. The celery root got so incredibly sweet and delicious, next time I’ll increase the amount.

I made this a second time, with a few substitutions and changes. I used a whole Tbs. of anise seeds, which still wasn’t too much. The soup had a great anise flavor, but could possibly have used even a bit more. I love anise, and have almost no savory recipes that call for it (hint, hint, anyone have one to share?) I also added more shiitakes, used rutabaga instead of celery root, pinto beans instead of anasazi–and more of them, shallots instead of leek, and vegetable broth instead of water. The soup tasted very similiar. All the substitutions worked fine, except I didn’t think that pinto beans are the right bean for this soup. If I can’t find anasazi maybe next time I’ll try small red beans. Or navy beans maybe?

Note, this soup doesn’t freeze terribly well, mostly because of the barley which ends up with a mushy texture. I’m not saying you can’t freeze it, but the texture is definitely degraded.

Update May 2010:  I made this again using anasazi beans.  They’re definitely the right bean for the soup. I doubled the number of shiitake mushrooms, but still they didn’t have much textural presence in the final soup.  Next time I’ll chop them into much bigger pieces.  I didn’t have collards or kale, so I threw in some fresh spinach at the very end.  It was okay but not really the right flavor for the soup.  Plus (since I hadn’t cut it up) it was a bit stringy.  By the time the beans were cooked through the soup was quite thick and not very brothy.  I had to add more water and still it wasn’t as brothy as I would have liked it.

Also, I made a stupid mistake.  I cut up the white part of the leek for the soup.  To add flavor to my vegetable broth, I decided to throw in the rest of the pale to medium green part of the leek in with the beans to cook.  I didn’t chop it up, just scored it, washed it and threw it in whole.  I figured I’d fish it out when the beans were cooked but before adding the veggies.  I hadn’t pre-soaked my beans, and by the time the beans were cooked the leek had totally disintegrated into nasty, stringy bits of goo.  Gross.

Update Oct 1 2017: I made this for dinner last night using 1.5 cups pre-cooked aduki beans. Even though I didn’t have any roasted chilies or greens or cilantro, and I didn’t leave the pieces of kombu in the soup, it came out really tasty! I used 4 shiitakes and Derek said I should have used even more.

Amazingly, Alma, who is normally quite anti-soup, also liked the soup, although she made me pick out all the leeks out (too stringy), and she had me cut the shiitakes up into toddler bite-sized pieces.

We ate this along with the potato chard terrine, and I liked the combination a lot. We ate the soup for dinner and then lunch the next day, and it was enough for two adults and a toddler + one bowl of soup was leftover. I’d prefer to get three meals out of it though, so next time I’d make more. Make 1.5 times the recipe.

Serving Size: 1 serving (out of 6 total)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 168
Total Fat 2.9g
Saturated Fat 0.4g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 259mg
Carbohydrate 31.3g
Dietary Fiber 6.8g
Sugars 2.6g
Protein 6.8g
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 55%
Calcium 8%
Iron 15%

Rating: B+

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Authentic Teff Injera (B)

April 28, 2006 at 8:59 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Ethiopian, Grains, Rebecca Wood)

This recipe for traditional tef injera is from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood, but is almost identical to the tef injera recipe in the authentic Ethiopian cookbook I checked out of the library. Wood also has a quick injera that’s made using sourdough starter, but I haven’t tried it.

Wood explains about injera: “The national food of Ethiopia, this large flatbread is used as a plate with other foods placed on top. Another injera is served on the side and torn into pieces to scoop up the food. The bread is served cold accompanied with spicy-hot bean, vegetable and meat dishes.”


Combine 2 cups tef flour, 3 cups of filtered water, and 1 tsp. yeast in a 2-quart ceramic or glass bowl. (Wood says if you’re grinding your flour fresh then you can omit the yeast since Tef’s symbiotic yeast provides leavening. ) Cover with a bamboo sushi mat or a clean cloth. Leave out on the counter for 2 days in a warm kitchen or 3 days in a cool kitchen, or until the sponge has a strong and distinctively sour aroma. Water will rise to the top. Slowly and carefully pour of this surface water.

Bring 1 cup of spring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir 1/2 cup of the tef mixture into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to med. and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly and is smooth. (I recommend using a whisk because mine had lumps). Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir this mixture into the soured batter. Add more water if necessary to make a thin batter as for pancakes. Cover and let rest for 1 or 2 hours or until the mixture rises.

Heat a 9-inch crepe pan or skillet that has a tight fitting lid over high heat until a drop of water bounces on the pan’s surface. If using an electric skillet, heat to 420 degrees F. Slowly pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan in a thin stream, moving in a spiral from the outer edge of the pan toward the center of the pan. Then til the pan so the batter can flow and cover any gaps. Cover and cook over med-low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the edges of the injera begin to curl away from the pan. Remove immediately and place on a clean coth to cool. When cool, wrap to keep moist. Stir the batter well, then cook the remaining breads in the same way.

If after combining the cooked and raw batters, you will not be able to cook the injera within 2 hours, refrigerate the batter for up to 4 hours, or until it rises. If you are unable to cook the batter when it’s ready, stir in 1/2 tsp. sea salt and refrigerate the batter for up to 24 hours.

She doesn’t say anything about storing longer than 24 hours, but I had leftover batter and just put it back in the fridge and have been making injera for lunch for quite a few days with no problems. It did get a bit more sour after a few days, but I still enjoyed it.

This is supposed to make 4 six-inch breads, but maybe I made mine too thin because mine made six breads. But it’s weird because I definitely used more than 1/3 cup mixture per bread. Maybe it’s because I never ended up pouring off any water. I know the injera is supposed to be soft, but when my friend made it he oiled the skillet a bit so the face-down side ended up a bit crisp, which I thought was tasty. Also, I liked it hot I think a bit better than the more traditional way of eating cold injera. The injera is pretty dark, since Tef is such a dark color, and noticeably sour, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Update: I tried making the injera again, but I only made 3/4 of the recipe. I let it sit for 2 days, but my kitchen was cooler than the last time. One mistake I made was adding the full 1 cup water instead of only 3/4 cup water, but that’s only an extra 1/4 cup, it doesn’t seem like it would make a huge difference. In any case, the batter was incredibly thin, almost the consistency of water. I’m not sure what could have made it so different from last time. Maybe I mis-measured the water initially? Another difference was that I made the injera after two days rather than doing the salt/refrigerate step for a day. But I don’t see why this would make the batter thinner.

Per serving (1/6 of recipe)
Calories 229
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 302mg
Carbohydrate 44.4g
Dietary Fiber 8.2g
Sugars 0g
Protein 8.4g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 10%
Iron 27%

Teff is obviously an iron powerhouse, and it’s not bad on calcium or fiber.

Rating: B

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Basic Kamut: An Ancient Wheat (B-)

April 4, 2006 at 2:00 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

My journey to conquer all the known grains is one step closer to completion. Kamut is an ancient form of wheat. The story of how it was discovered was quite interesting, as is the fact that many people with a wheat allergy can eat kamut (but not those with gluten sensitivities).

I followed the directions in Rebecca Wood’s Splendid Grain cookbook and toasted it first, but as usual, I flaked out and ended up burning some of it. Ah, when will I learn. After toasting I did a “quick soak” by bringing it to a boil and letting it sit for an hour. Many of the grains popped open at this point, so I’m not sure if the soak was necessary. Then I cooked it until soft by boiling then covering and simmering just like rice. The cooked kamut had great flavor–I thought it tasted like a cross between peanuts, corn, and brown rice, but maybe the peanut association was because I burnt it slightly.

1 cup kamut berries
1.5 cups water or unsalted stock
salt to taste

Toaste the kamut in a saucepan or wok over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until you hear many grains popping and the kamut is aromatic and turns a shade darker. Rinse and rain well. Put the kamut in a medium saucepan, add the water, and let soak for at least 1 hour or overnight. Bring the kamut, soaking water, and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender but still a bit chewy. Remove from the heat and let steam, covered, for ten minutes. Serve hot with gomasio as a side dish.

Put any leftover kamut in a glass bowl, loosely cover with a cotton cloth, and leave out at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Within 4 hours of cooking, the kamut may be used in salad; thereafter, use in a stir-fry or stuffing.

I made one dish with kamut and tofu in a leek and mushroom sauce that was very tasty, and also used it with coconut and other spices to stuff bitter gourd. More about that adventure soon.

Rating: B-

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Whole Teff porridge (C)

April 3, 2006 at 7:40 pm (breakfast, F (0 stars, inedible), Grains, Rebecca Wood)

I have a goal to try all the known grains, or at least all that I can get my hands on.

Teff is a teeny tiny chocolate brown grain that is most well-known for being the traditional grain that is used to make injera, the spongy fermented bread that is served at every Ethiopian restaurant.

Rebecca Wood in her cookbpok The Splendid Grain says she’s found no precedent for eating teff as a whole grain rather than ground to a flour, but that she serves it occasionally at very “adult” dinners. I tried her recipe for “steamed” teff which is really boiled teff, then you let it sit and “steam” afterwards.

1 cup whole tef
1 cup boiling water or stock
pinch of sea salt
gomasio for a garnish

Toast the tef in a hot skillet, stirring quickly, for 2 minutes, or until the sounds of popping grains is at its height. Pour the tef into a saucepan with boiling liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 7 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with gomasio.

This is supposed to serve 2, but I thought it made 4 servings.

I’m not positive I followed the recipe correctly, because it turned out awful. The texture was like wet sand. So I looked on the web and they generally recommended adding much more water (3 to 1) and cooking it much longer (at least 20 minutes). With more water and another 20 minutes the teff turned into one large porridgey mass, which reminded me a lot of amaranth. The texture was similar since they both have all those tiny seeds, but the teff wasn’t quite as gooey, and the flavor was different. I thought the flavor was actually more mild than amaranth, and not unpleasant, but not exciting either.

I tried adding some cocoa powder and sweetener to the hot cereal. Blech. It was better plain with a little soymilk.

This morning I had it cold with soymilk and some Ezekiel-brand “grapenuts”. It was pretty nice. It seemed healthier than eating just grapenuts, but the addition of grapenuts gave it some much needed crunch. The textural contrast was quite enjoyable.

I’m definitely going to buy teff again and keep experimenting, but nothing I’ve tried so far has really excited me.

Nutritional Info for Teff

Teff Whole Grain (uncooked)
Serving Size 1/4 cup (45g)
Calories 160.00
Calories from Fat 5.00
Total Fat 1.00g
Saturated Fat 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.00mg
Sodium 10.00mg
Total Carbohydrate 33.00g
Dietary Fiber 6.00g
Sugars 0.00g
Protein 6.00g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 5%
Iron 13%

The vitamins and minerals are based on 1/2 cup Teff flour, which was a guess. The only grains I know of that have more iron are quinoa (3.6g for 160 calories), amaranth (3.3g for 160 calories), and wheat germ (2.8g for 160 calories). The web claims that Teff is a good source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, boron, phosphorous and potassium. Another cool thing about teff is that it is too small to remove the bran or germ, so when you’r eating teff you know you’re always eating a whole grain.

I’d like to try cooking with teff flour, and also using the teff like poppyseeds in baking.

Rating: C

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