Thursday, February 17, 2011

The "Grains Three Ways" Project

Years ago, long before I was diagnosed, I ate a vegetarian diet for about six months. (I was open to milk, cheese, and eggs, but didn't eat much of those.) I didn't lose weight - a vegetarian with limited cooking skills is likely to end up eating a lot of simple carbs - but I did feel better eating that way.

One of my secret, stealthy reasons for working so hard on my cooking skills is to lay the proper foundation for a possible return to a vegetarian diet. And an important aspect of that is to know a lot more about cooking with whole grains (or, sometimes, less-refined grains) than I have in the past.

So, I've decided to begin what I'm calling my "Grains Three Ways" project. Working with one grain variety at a time, I'll find and prepare three dishes that use significantly different cooking methods for that variety. To the extent possible, I'd like to vary the methods across varieties as well (so that I'm not making a faux-risotto all the time, for example), but a preparation in my rice cooker will probably appear about every time, because it's a very handy tool for cooking grains.

I'll be starting with barley. I'm using pearled barley, which has been partially refined: I may visit whole grain barley down the road some time. I'll be doing quinoa for sure, and bulgur wheat, and farro since I happen to have some. Beyond that, I'll see what the stores seem to want to sell me. (I use brown rice tolerably often, so may not do that one.)

I'll report back!


  1. You should be able to find oats (whole or steel-cut) fairly easily. You can find kasha (buckwheat) in the Kosher food aisle if nowhere else. (It comes in three coarseness levels: whole, largeish cut, and finely-cut like grits.) Hominy grits are of course a special case of corn. If you have a Wegman's or Whole Foods nearby with a bulk food aisle, you may also be able to find whole-grain spelt, as well as millet and rye. Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain -- as is flax. Wild rice is technically a grass.

    One method of cooking rice, spelt, wild rice, or wheat is to "Rice-a-Roni" them: sauté them in a bit of healthy oil and then simmer them in stock. (This is also the basis of a pilaf, which does not have to be based on rice, or a rice salad.)

    "Fried rice" is stir-fried in seasonings after it has been cooked.

  2. Brenda, thank you for the information! I realized last night that I should have included steel cut oats, which I use occasionally but would like to know more about. I've used brown rice for years, especially since discovering the medium grain rice has a mouth feel much more like the poliihed rices. But, there's a lot here I didn't know, and I appreciate it!


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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.