Monday, July 19, 2010

Ashna and kasha knishes :-D

“Lady of Abundance”

Ezina, Eshana, Ashnan - beloved, abundance
is a Sumerian grain Goddess.
"The growing grain, the life of Sumer", "the good bread of the whole world".
He sister Lakhar is the sheep goddess.

She is also the supporter of treaties and laws by withholding abundance from anyone breaking them.

Now when the harvest season for grain gets closer and we are about to celebrate the first harvest, let's look a bit closer at cereals.

* "old world grains", that used to be called "corn" (Goddess of corn isn't necessarily the same thing as Goddess of Maize), especially barley, but also wheat and rye, sometimes even oat.

#1, #2 and #3 - Wheat, corn and rice are the most used grains in the whole world. It varies which one is on top, they are all VERY popular.
#4 is barley, thanks to beer and other alcoholic beverages. Barley is also used as animal food, because it is very easy to grow and very tolerant; it doesn't much care about lack of water, cold or heat.#5 and #6 are sorghum and millet. Many believe them to be the same, but they are not. Millet is one of the oldest grains in the world, and it sustains 1/3 of world population.
# 7 is oats, very much thanks to horses
# 8 is rye, which is very important in Northern Europe. We Finns couldn't live without our rye bread, and as far as I know the Danes and Russians have the same relation to theirs :-D Rye is nutritionally very important. Bread that is made of rye, even refined rye, keeps the eater satisfied longer than wholemeal wheat.
# 9 is Triticale - hybrid of wheat and rye, with similar qualities as rye.
# 10 is fonio, an African grain family
# 11 is teff, another African, mainly Ethiopian grain. Teff is amazing nutritionally and could easily grow everywhere in the world.
# 12 is buckqheat, which is not really a cereal.
# 13 is quinoa, which isn't really a cereal either, but has the same qualities cooking wise :-)

Then there are other grains, that might be interesting to mention:
* wild rice, the wild cousin of white rice
* amaranth, quinoa's and buckwheat's cousin
* kañiwa, quinoa's brother
* spelt, wheat's grandmother
* einkorn - single grain wheat
* emmer - one of the first grains of humankind
* durum - tetraploid wheat (it has four sets of chromosomes instead of the normal two)
* kamut - I love the story of this ancient pre-wheat :-)
* adlay, coix, "Chinese pearl barley", "Job's tears" - a maize relative from Asia. (Funnily enough, they make sort of "coix milk" which they call "Job's tear tea" :-D Reminds me of an old Finnish fairytale of bird milk :-D)

* chia isn't really a grain, it's seeds of a American salvia. It's nevertheless very nutritious, oily and very good food.
* flax seeds are another non-grain food that can be used as grain.

Versagrain is a really good site with all the information one can need

So - everybody loves k'nishes :-)

Kasha knishes

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons ice water
2 eggs; lightly beaten

1 egg; lightly beaten
1 cup kasha; whole roasted
1½ cup chicken broth
1 large onion; small dice
5 tablespoons schmaltz
salt & pepper; to taste
3 eggs; lightly beaten

(Kasha is buckwheat groats, schmaltz is chicken fat)

DOUGH FILLING SOURCE: "Love and Knishes" by Sara Kasden 1956

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees F.
Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; mix well. Make a well in the center and add the oil, ice water, and eggs. Mix with a spoon, incorporating the wet and dry ingredients to make a smooth dough. Turn out onto a board and knead for 2 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and let stand at room temp. for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 balls. Slightly flatten each ball to make a disc shape. Divide each disc into 4 equal balls. Cover with a damp towel and let sit at room temp. for 10 to 15 minutes.
Roll each ball out into a circle about 3 1/2 inches in diam. Cover the dough circles with a damp towel until ready to fill.

In a bowl combine 1 beaten egg and the kasha, stirring to coat each grain with the egg. Heat a large non-stick saute pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the grain and cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the kasha kernels are separate and smell nutty. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, for about 20-25 min. or until liquid has evaporated and the grains are tender but chewy. Cool at room temp.
Meanwhile, saute the onion in the chicken fat over high heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft.
Add to the kasha and season with salt and pepper. Add the 3 eggs and mix well.

Place 2 rounded T. filling in center of each circle. Pull the edges up around filling, completely enclosing it and pinching the dough to form a tight package. Turn the packages over, place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet, and brush the surface with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 T. water).
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Serve hot.

Kasha and mushroom filling

1 cup onions, diced
1 tablespoon safflower oil
3 cups mushrooms, coarsely chopped
½ cup liquid egg substitute
1 cup Kasha
2 cups vegetable broth
salt & pepper

Saute onions in oil in a large skillet until lightly browned. Add mushrooms & cook until mushrooms are lightly browned. Set aside.
Place egg substitute in a bowl & toss the kasha in it. Place tossed kasha in a large skillet with a tightly fitting cover. Over high heat, flatten, stir & chop the kasha with a fork until the grains separate. Remove from heat.
Bring broth to a boil. Slowly pour broth over the kasha, cover skillet, & cook over low heat until the liquid is all absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in onion-mushroom mixture, salt & pepper. Cool to room temperature

from "Vegetarian Gourmet" Issue #11

White bean, chard and emmer soup
about farro/emmer...

To dessert I suggest Carnelians of Babylon

Mix 8 ounces of cream cheese so that it's soft. Mix in 4 ounces of finely ground cashews, 2 ounces of raisins, 4 tablespoons of white wine (or lemon juice, or rose water), zest of a lemon and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
Sandwich about a tablespoon of this cheese mixture between two dried apricots. It should be enough for about 32 apricots :-)
Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top, if you like.

You can also use almond and cranberry ricotta :-D

This is emmer :-)
Yes... it really HAS that color. Only the hull, though ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ceres and porridge

Ceres is a Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. Her name means "bread" or "grain". The Romans melted most of the Greek Demeter (Earth Mother) cults and traditions with their Ceres.

Ceres is depicted usually with a grain (corn in the meaning "old world grain"; barley, wheat, rye)

Ceres husband is Liber (the Free One), associated with husbandry and crops, and they have a daughter, Libera. (Sometimes the name is used of Ceres.)
As Ceres' daughter, Libera was also called Proserpina. Not "first snake" but from "proserpere - to emerge".
This triad of deities is essential for agriculture and also bound to other cycles of life and death.

Libera is not considered to be the same Goddess as Libertas, though I can easily think they are the same. Libera Proserpina was celebrated in the middle of March... The jump to Lady's Day; Spring Equinox; Easter/Ostara; Pesach, isn't long, and what is Easter anything but the festival of freedom and liberty?
The Pagans welcome Libera Proserpina back from her "incarceration" with Pluto, underground, and bring offerings of grain and spring flowers to Her and Her Mother. The seed has been sleeping in Her grave and now bursts out from Her dark jail, to grow and bring life to Her subjects.

One could also get "all metaphysical" here and think about our life, our incarnation, as a period of freedom in our spiritual life. When we are dead, we are like angels, without free will. Depending on the culture, we might just sleep, or be tortured, or just wander around as willess spirits, shadows, ghosts, or perhaps we are in heaven praising God in eternal glory or merge into the Great Spirit and become one with it. I cannot remember any spiritual belief system where "life after death" means you continue "living" as you did in life, making your own choices, having goals, experiencing things, participating in life just as you did before. I suppose zombies get close, but zombies are considered being dead and not doing this "life-thing" of their own free will and choice. Also, in some reincarnational beliefs "life after death" is seen as some sort of preparing period, where you can "catch up" with what you didn't do in you "real life".
This is just a thought I got right now, so this thesis is not researched or considered at all :-D I would be interested in your thoughts, though :-)

I was checking out my "commitment" - I haven't been baking much anything the whole year, except some Danish Rye.

The "Bread Baking Babes" have been baking things. Among others Austrian Strietzel. That is not the same thing as Streusel, even though they sound very similar. Streusel is one of my favorites, how ever you make it :-D It means basically "baked goods with crumble topping".

Here's a "killer blueberry pie" - because it is blueberry season here in Sweden :-)
and here's blueberry crumble cake, made with strawberries (and I would use forest strawberries, because there's an ocean of them in the forest around here too... they are a bit overdone now, and would suit well to crumbles.)

These are absolutely perfect recipes for Lammas, that's in only two weeks from now, and suit well to be frozen, if you make a lot. It's not the best season to bake, though, as it's so darn HOT! But, dog days. Summer King has lost and is angry, so he makes everyone suffer.

As food, I suggest grits, polenta, farina - corn porridge in different shapes :-) It is really nice during the hot days, and eaten a lot in Southern Europe and Southern USA and Mexico.

Sofkee, Safki, "Indian Pudding", corn pudding, maize pudding
(you can also make this by leaving out the "sweet stuff", and have savory pudding. Or boil a coffee pot of water and mix in roughly ground corn - about the same amount as coffee - let it boil a little more, and then pour the "soup" in a cup - that's a bit different kind of sofkee. Here's a couple more safki recipes. It's really wonderful camp fire cooking :-))

Here's creamy polenta, that you can serve with osso buco, short ribs or oxtail stew. All these can be made overnight, when the electricity is cheap and the heat not so horrible :-) Also, stews can be easily taken with to potlucks and camping :-)

Here's pan fried farina. (if you leave out cheese, mustard and eggs, you have farina porridge)

Moroccan Farina (bread)

about grits :-)
(the Swedish word 'gryta' means a stew or a pot where the stew is made in.)

shrimp and grits - breakfast for dinner Now, shrimps might not be a good idea during the dog days, but if you are sure of the condition of your shrimps and like them, why not :-)
Here's sort of the same recipe, but upped ;-) creamy corn custard and deviled shrimps
You can use grits - or corn custard - for any meat.

Chili dusted pork chops with strawberries and grits
bigfoot barley wine braised pork belly with chevre grits
baked sausage and creamy white cheddar grits
chicken roasted in a pot

Here "spicy, cheesy grits" and "grits and quinoa with spicy pink beens" for vegetarians, and "vegan grits with greens", "tempeh bacon grits" and "tomato and grits" for vegans

* all about porridge