Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Good Grains and the Critical Mom

Our German friends used to tell us only two starches would work at any well-rounded meal: parboiled white rice or potatoes. Or bread. But I go to all the places the German ladies don't go. When we lived in Bavaria, I always shopped at Norma, the supermarket that had the freshest vegetables. A German friend, unwilling to mingle with non-Bavarians (she made an exception for me) would only go to Tengelmann, which has more expensive vegetables and classier butter. My husband and I got a kick out of revealing to her that all the vegetable dishes at her favorite Italian restaurant came from Norma: we'd seen the chef there buying in bulk. She continued to order the same dishes at the Italian place, but has yet to stick a toe in Norma.
If she comes to visit, I'm going to drag her to the local Turkish grocery, where you can buy four or five different kinds of bulgur.  And here's how you cook this affordable and highly nutritious grain:

(1) Rinse portion (a large coffee mug full will suffice for two adults) in a sieve briefly. Drain. Set aside. Heat olive oil--about two tablespoons--in a pan on the stove. Dice onions--garlic, too--peppers, if you're feeling adventurous--and sauté for a bit; when the onions are transparent and the peppers soft, add the bulgur and stir, toasting it lightly. Meanwhile, boil water and pour a mugful or two of instant chicken broth into the bulgur. A bit more if you like. Lower heat. Stir. Eat when soft, and when all the water is absorbed. You can also add frozen peas to this. 

(2) And here's another great, affordable grain: Kasha, or buckwheat groats. If you're lucky, you might find these in the bio section of Edeka--otherwise, try the local Russian supermarket. Kasha can be cooked like rice: approximately double the water to the Kasha. I don't rinse Kasha, though I do rinse bulgur and rice. Cooking method:

Put the Kasha in a pot; add a bit of salt, and pour twice the amount of boiling water in. Stir and let boil, then lower heat and stir and simmer until all water is absorbed. You can have this very plain, adding a little butter, or you can sauté onions and peppers on the side and put them in later. You can also melt a slice of Gouda cheese or Cheddar cheese over bulgur or kasha for a healthy, delicious, and most inexpensive meal.

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