Grains – the good and the bad

This was an interesting assignment because until this week’s class, the only grains I’ve eaten have been rices and barley. This confusing world of alternate grains overwhelmed me. But cooking millet this week sparked my interest in spreading out. I chose to start with millet.

toasting-milletCooking a pot of millet for the week was simple. Toast the grain with a little butter while heating chicken stock in a separate pan. Put the millet into the stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Done! I ate a little to see if it still interested me. It was chewy and rather satisfying!

Now I had a tupperware full of millet, I needed something to do with it. So I searched online for recipes . Since we’d already tried millet pilaf in class, I chose to go simple with a chicken soup. If figured this was just a chicken noodle soup exchanging millet for pasta. As I thought of the millet’s chew though, I decided millet alone would be overwhelming to me. So I added in rice to even it out. I had a combo of brown and white rice in the refrigerator from a previous meal, and found frozen wild rice in the freezer. Grains were complete. Next  the stock and meat. I only had boxed stock and 2 frozen chicken breasts. I poached chicken-wild-rice-millet-soup-2the chicken (simple) and shredded it. To enhance the stock, I sautéed diced carrots, celery, onion, garlic and dried Italian herbs (I’d read that roasting dried herbs before adding them to the pot enhances their flavor). Next I added stock, a little chicken base (thought this would ramp up the flavor a little),  and simmered it for 20 minutes. The stock was amazingly tasty. To finish it off, I added in the cooked rices, millet and shredded chicken. The result was a very satisfying soup and knowledge that I could have good soup in a pinch even if I didn’t make my own stock!

Breakfast millet. I was uncertain about this part of the assignment. My recipe search found 2 types of options – millet-poridge-2millet cakes with  maple syrup and porridge. I opted to for the porridge since I love steel cut oatmeal  with diced apples. The recipe I found online (  guided me to boil then simmer millet in water, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and raisins ( I used dried tart cherries instead) for 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. The result? Bland, chewy and boring – not a winner. I won’t try this one again – my traditional oatmeal is much better.

My third recipe for millet was sautéed shrimp and scallion millet risoto  ( But ias I gathered together the ingredients, I realized I had leftover pot roast in my refrigerator that needed to be used. My family doesn’t eat left overs and I had made too large a pot roast to create a 1-meal dinner. My usual solution is to make beef with barley soup. So I decided to switch my grain to barley. The only challenge was I didn’t have any mushrooms to give the soup depth and beef-barley-soup-ctexture. So I returned to the sautéed diced carrots, celery, onion idea from the chicken wild rice millet soup. I already had onions that had been cooked with the pot roast so added in the other vegetables, thyme and pepper. To this I threw in 2 cups of beef broth from the pot roast, 3 cups of boxed stock, 3 bay leaves and 1/3rd cup hulled barley. Since time was limited, I tried out the pressure cooker again. This time I was successful in getting the pressure high enough and cooked the soup in 15 minutes. To finish it off, I added in the shredded pot roast meat and boosted the soup’s flavor with soy sauce and a splash of red wine vinegar. Again, another delicious soup.

Now I have more soup than I know what to do with. But since I could happily eat soup at every meal for the rest of my life, this really isn’t a problem.

All in all, the grain assignment was a fun and eye opening experience.