Wednesday, September 23, 2009


A Breakfast of Champions
Teff will reverse the reputation of the four letter word. Teeny, tiny Teff. The world smallest grain. Now we can say "Oh Teff" and it will mean that we are satisfied, energized, alert. I visualize children in the playground, swinging higher than they ever dared, then leaping into the air, landing on their feet, throwing up their arms like an Olympic gymnast who has just stuck their landing and yelling "Teff". I see the owner of a small business, hardly able to contain herself after getting word that her little company secured a big contract, a David vs Goliath effort. She calls together her little team of brilliant employees, they join hands around the lunch room table, give them a swing and in unison, raise them up, throw back their heads to open up their throats to say, "Teff". This little grain is going to catch on.

Teff Porridge with Dates and Honey (Bob's Red Mill recipe)
1 cup Whole Grain Teff
3 cups boiling water
1Tbsp canola oil (they call for unsalted butter, NOT VEGAN)
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
3/4 cup Pitted Dates, halved crosswise
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
3-4 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 Cup Walnuts

Set a heavy 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the Teff and toast, stirring frequently until the grains emit a mild, toasty aroma and begin to pop. 3 to 6 minutes. (You will notice little white dots of popped grain but may not hear the popping.) If you look carefully you will see a rustling in the mass as they pop. Very cool.

Take the saucepan off the heat, and slowly add the 3 cups of boiling water, the canola oil and the Cloves. Stir well and return to the heat.

Cover and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom.

Stir in the dates, salt, and honey. Cover and continue cooking until the grains are tender and one color throughout and the desired consistency. About 5-10 minutes. Add more boiling water if it gets too thick before the grain is thoroughly cooked.

Turn off the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the Walnuts.

What does it taste like? Hmmm. Sweet (dates and honey) and nutty. The Teff flavor is hard to describe. It tastes like Teff. The texture is a little grainy but pleasant. It's a pretty dark chocolaty brown. Lovely. Next time I'm leaving out the spice. It masks the other flavors.

I first met Teff in the Mid North. I was invited by a friend to take a cooking class at a Somalian restaurant. It turned out to be better than a cooking class. The owner cooked his entire menu so my friend could do a photo shoot for publication in his new menu. One thing he made was injera, a flat bread made with Teff flour, like a Mexican tortilla or a Swedish lefsa. Bob's Red Mill has a recipe for injera on their Teff flour bag. I followed the instructions and learned that I am injera-challenged after using a whole bag of Teff flour in the attempt. I'm a Teff fan anyway. It's just such an interesting grain, makes me feel worldly. And it's gluten free.

It's another fire day in Ventura Co. This time the fire is closer and ashes cover the car. It started sometime yesterday and the fire crews have been diligent. As I write this I don't smell smoke and I'm thankful.

Lunch was a can of Progresso Garden Vegetable Soup. A gal sometimes just needs an easy meal.

I was in the market looking for a nice watermelon when I heard a woman ask where the spagetti squash was. Until that moment I had no idea what I would fix for dinner. Now I knew. Spagetti squash, with organic tomato herb spagetti sauce with a couple of tablespoons of quinoa added as it cooked, a side of stir fry veggies and watermelon.

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