Photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com
It really is. So much more awesome.* I've become increasingly frustrated with Ellwood, even as I occasionally sing its praises, and have realized my visits were mostly a matter of proximity.
I've mentioned before how annoying and yet uplifting it is when you find a special ingredient you've mail-ordered sitting on the shelf of a local shop--instant gratification married to the lack of shipping charges is an irresistible combination. However, since I just ordered a big box of various whole grains that hasn't arrived yet, I was more annoyed than overjoyed to find all of them (yes, ALL of them) and more available at Good Foods Grocery when I stopped in during a jaunt to the far West End.
Now, most of you probably aren't complete converts to whole grains yet. To accomplish this task, I recommend a showing of Sweeney Todd, followed by the immediate reading of Michael Pollan's new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. I dare anybody to resist the clarity of Pollan's prose while haunted by images of Johnny Depp's slashing razor.
Actually, I'm hard-pressed to click on the old critical lens when I read Pollan because I fervently aspire to one day reach the pinnacle of transparent meaning Pollan seems to be approaching. (No arguments please about how clarity is just a rhetorical trap, and I've been led astray by the evil linguistic metaphysicians who want to rule the world and do so by making their prose easy to read. Been there, done that. If Derrida was so smart, why couldn't he write a frickin' sentence you can read?**)
So, where was I? Oh yes, admitting it's very hard for me to find a critical distance from Pollan. I just love his style and in my love-struck infatuation with it, have a tendency to swallow his arguments whole (did I really just admit that?). My only quibble with him would be my reluctance to chuck maple syrup--not the lovely, thin, pure kind from trees, but the thick, viscous maple-flavored corn syrup I love to pour all over my pancakes. I will, I promise, assiduously avoid high fructose corn syrup in all other products, but I don't plan on giving up my Log Cabin, not just yet.
There's a great whole-grain starter recipe in Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less by Walter Willett and Mollie Katzen. Pollan partially demolishes Willett's ideas about food in his book, and Consumer Reports last year said that this particular diet had too many daily calories to help with actual weight loss (!), but the book still has a truly wonderful whole grain side dish that's earned a permanent place in the rotation of my weekly menu cycle. So there. Plus, I love it even more (because I can eat it more often), now that I know all of the ingredients are available at Good Foods Grocery. Well, I'll start loving it even more, right after I choke down the grains due to arrive this week that cost more to ship than they did to buy.
Mixed Grains with Cashews from Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less
- 1/3 cup whole rye (also called "rye berries")
- 1/2 cup white (or soft) wheat berries
- 1/4 pearl barley
- 3 1/2 cups water
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup chopped cashews, lightly toasted
PLAN AHEAD. This takes a while to cook. Katzen advises cooking it the night before and reheating the next day.
Rinse all the grains together in a strainer. Transfer to a medium-large saucepan and add 3 cups of water.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, then turn the heat down as far as it will go, and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.
Check the grains and see if they're done to your liking (they'll still be a bit chewy). If you'd like them softer,add a little water, cover pan, and continue to cook over low heat for up to 10 minutes. If they're too soupy, drain for 5-10 minutes in a colander.
Fluff with a fork, and let stand uncovered for about 10 minutes (not necessary if you were draining). Salt and serve hot or warm, topped with cashews. Or mix them right in, like I do. Serves 5, although no known children have eaten it yet, not counting the larger pieces of cashew.
*Pardon me, I've been infected by the Ross Catrow disease.
**Jacques Derrida, scourge of grad students everywhere: "It is because of différance that the movement of signification is possible only if each so-called "present" element, each element appearing on the scene of presence, is related to something other than itself, thereby keeping within itself the mark of the past element, and already letting itself be vitiated by the mark of its relation to the future element, this trace being related no less to what is called the future than to what is called the past, and constituting what is called the present by means of this very relation to what it is not: what it absolutely is not, not even a past or a future as a modified present . . ." Etc. Until you awake to find your cheek pressed into a puddle of drool on a table at the library, as the clock ticks inexorably forward. I, myself, have fallen asleep in every single library on the grounds of the University of Virginia, of which there are five, including the medical library.