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From Bulgar to Kasha: Secrets of Cooking With Grains

Anne Vassal shares the secrets of cooking with grains, including types of grains for meals and recipes for a wide variety of grains.

| February/March 2000

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  • 178-86-1a
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MOTHER's Kitchen column explores the secrets of cooking with grains.

If you wanted to eat like a prince, you had to be one. Even nobility had to rely on the occasional bowl of gruel to sustain them as they hung around a dank castle. Grain dishes also provided a convenient spoon food, since the fork didn't come on the scene until the year 1077.

Grains were, and still are, an economical food that is easy to eat with a spoon. But we now also know that whole grains are a good low-fat source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. While our governments USDA Food Pyramid is telling us that grains should be the bulk of our diet, the National Cancer Institute says that Americans are not getting the 20 to 35 grams of fiber that we need daily to help fight off cancer. One food historian speculated that during the Dark Ages, people ate at least 50 grams of fiber daily. While plagues were causing people to drop like flies, cancer wasn't in the picture.

This doesn't mean, however, that we should load up on white rice and Wonder Bread. A whole grain consists of the bran, germ and endosperm. Refined grains have been stripped of the bran and germ, which contain most of the nutrients, leaving the endosperm with its complex carbohydrates. The government decided to replace this loss with a low dose of synthetic vitamins, calling the grain or flour "enriched" or "fortified." which makes about as much sense as having your teeth pulled so you can wear dentures. But it was unable to replace the soluble and insoluble fiber, which proves again that you can't fool Mother Nature.

So grab a spoon and dig in to discover the secrets of cooking with grains . . . the wine and ale are up to you.

Mixed Grain Salad Recipe

1/2 cup each long-grain brown rice, pearled barley, wheat berries CI use hard wheat berries)
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked adzuki beans or another small bean (or use 1 cup canned beans. rinsed)
2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen, defrosted and drained
4 green onions, chopped
1 green pepper, finely diced
Topping: cilantro or parsley (optional)

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