Yay! For Cooking Shortcuts

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For the last several years, I have been harping on this blog about how whole grains should be soaked before eating to nullify the effects of the phytates, which inhibit the uptake of zinc and calcium in the digestive tract. Okay, "harping" might imply more frequency than it has actually been mentioned, but it has been mentioned. I am still a firm believer in this, religiously soaking my hot cereal grains for breakfast every night, soaking my beans, and usually preparing my pancakes from a soaked base.

But, I will admit, there are always those times when snack time comes rolling around, and the cupboards are looking pretty bare, that some fresh baked goods look like both a cheaper and a healthier alternative to a run through the Tim Horton's drive-through. Or on the nights when you didn't pre-plan anything for supper, and you need to have everyone fed in forty-five minutes, wouldn't it be nice if there were a few "from-scratch" recipes that were tasty, healthy, and fast?

In these situations, I figure that a menu that utilizes fresh-ground grains, even though unsoaked, are better than falling back to fast food, or food-out-of-a-box. And when you're in a hurry, shortcuts are always better.

A few years ago, my friend Larrissa M. introduced me to MaryJane's Farm, and her wonderful "Budget Mix" concept--a basic flour mix that can be used as the starter for a wide range of wonderful main dishes, desserts, and snacks. I loved the idea of having some of the work done in advance, but not so much the ordering of the mix from another country, especially for the quantity I would go through. (I also love her magazine--highly recommended!)

After some playing around, I came up with my own mix, which (for copyright purposes), I will call "Quick Mix", since I came up with it on my own--although it works in place of Budget Mix in any of MaryJane's recipes that I've tried. I have also developed a few recipes of my own, which I will be sharing with you all over the next little while--starting today!

Make up a batch or two of the Basic Quick Mix in advance when you have time (such as after you have popped a meal into the oven for twenty minutes), and store it in your freezer until you need it to "lock in" the nutrients. The nutrients in grains begin to oxidize as soon as they are ground, but freezing slows down this process considerably. I find that 3 cups of Quick Mix does enough of most recipes for a single meal for my family--but if you are cooking for a smaller crowd (or a less hungry one!), cut it in half. I make my batches up 3 cups at a time (for even distribution of constituents), then store in 3 cup yogurt containers in the freezer so they are ready to go.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes, and your comments!

(Download a pre-formatted 4"x6" recipe card by clicking on the recipe titles.
Edit: I just tried this, and since I created the Cards in Word 2007, that is apparently the only program you will be able to read them in. I will leave the links up for those of you with that program until I figure out another solution.)

Basic Quick Mix

Makes 3 cups

3 c. flour (any variety: whole wheat, spelt, unbleached. Whole grain flours should be freshly ground)
2 tbsp. aluminum-free, GMO-cornstarch-free baking powder
1 tsp. aluminum-free baking soda
1 tsp. ground coarse gray sea salt

Sift all ingredients together well. If not using immediately, store in sealed container in freezer.

Quick Mix Pancakes
Feeds up to 8 people

3 c. Quick Mix (I like to use 2 c. whole wheat, 1 c. unbleached)
¼ c. whole sugar (such as Panela or Rapadura) or loosely packed brown sugar (opt.)
2 eggs
2 ½ c. milk
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla (opt.)
butter or extra-virgin coconut oil

Mix all ingredients well in 2-qt. mixing bowl. Heat cast iron pans gently over medium-low. Use butter or extra-virgin coconut oil, about 1 tbsp. at a time in pans—do not let the butter burn. Spoon batter into pans approx. ¼ c. at a time, or as desired. Cook until edges look dry, and bubble begin to form in pancakes, then flip. Cook until golden-brown, then remove from heat. Serve with your choice of fruit, maple syrup, and whipped cream or butter.

Thin pancakes: Use 3 c. milk.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes: Use only 2 c. milk. Add 1 c. canned pumpkin, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves.

Quick Mix Biscuits
Makes 1 doz.

1 ½ c. Basic Quick Mix
¾ c. milk, buttermilk, kefir, or filtered water
2 tbsp. cold butter (opt.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. If using butter, cut into budget mix using pastry blender or a fork. Mix in liquid until just moistened. Use a 2-tbsp. scoop or a spoon to make 12 drop biscuits on a seasoned stoneware baking sheet, or lightly greased-and-floured metal sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with butter.

Watch for more Quick Mix recipes to come!

P.S. Is it helpful having the downloadable recipe cards?

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  1. Yum, yum.....I can just smell the aromas wafting out of my kitchen when you were cooking there.... sigh! Your pumpkin spice pancakes are SOOOO good!!
    And, oh yes (playing the role of Logan :), I believe it is coarse, not course. (giggle)
    PS. Isn't it such a pain to have "proof-reader" family??

  2. Thank you for pointing that out. No, not a pain. I read through it several times, and that part always caught my eye, but I never clued in as to "why"! Oh, well, I guess I just need more sleep!


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