Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tadpole tails.

Spring is for sprouts. Felicitous, yes?

Perennial promises break through dry faultlines of winter's crust; leaf buds green, nests are built, bulbs burgeon reminders, and creativity is warmed.

I like sprouts. They, like tadpoles, grow their tails day-by-day, strengthened by water and light. The birth of a hard seed into something fresh and living, that, is truly Spring.

I have sprouted mung beans and buckwheat before, transforming my kitchen counters into a spread of upside down mason jars and cheesecloth, evocative of a gradeschool science fair environment complete with Curious Things Growing. Sprouts are easy; no cooking involved! And, along with their pleasing crunch, they are filled with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Protein is supposed to be my new mealtime mantra; quinoa the prayer's answer.

One-quarter cup dry has 3g of fiber and 6g of protein. Quinoa has always intrigued me: it is not truly a grain, but rather a pseudograin, a seed, and is most closely related to beets, spinach, swiss chard, and rhubarb. It is a tough thing. Hardy. Defensive. Independent. Nature has provided it a protective coat of saponins, rendering the seed inedible if not first properly cleansed of this chemical. Ancient Harvest quinoa is washed and ready, but other brands may not be and should be repeatedly rinsed until the saponins' soapy lather rinses clear.

Sprouting Quinoa

1. put quinoa and enough water to cover it in a large glass jar
2. drain and rinse
3. cover the top of the jar with cheesecloth or a sprouting jar lid (wire mesh)
4. turn upside down and set in a mixing bowl
5. rinse and drain thoroughly twice a day
6. sprouts should be ready in 1-2 days, depending upon how long you like the tails!

If I dare posit such a thing, and I now shall take that chance, quinoa sprouts are even tastier than their cooked counterpart. My sister, not a lover of this food, tasted some fresh sprouts as I spooned them into a storage jar, and from her mouth this sentiment was spawned.

Today, what to do with those sprouts though?

I have always thought my dream job (other than my current career librarianship, of course!) would be to work in a produce market -- to be among vegetables and fruits, absorbed with their textures and energized by their smells...each apple possessing its own individual scent, uniquely created pheremones, luring near the Insecta pollenators necessary for germination carried from its mate.

I delight in cutting things up. As a youth, I had a rather odd hobby of vegetable sculpting. I believe this began as a keen interest in developing excuses not to do the dishes. Oh yes, my mother would think vegetable sculpting a Very Noble use of my time, I was sure. Procrastination is never very reasoned. I recall one evening (after a notably large meal with many dishes perhaps?) being quite intent on otherwise occupying myself than with the mountains of dishes that were my after dinner fate. Scraps of dinner's makings littered the counters, and opportunely, creativity struck. I whittled bits of radishes, carrots, celery and potatoes into a very elaborate boat; an effective use of time. Mom was impressed, and I still had to wash the dishes.

This childlike revelry yet inhabits my soul. In an early morning kitchen, lit through sleepy grey skies acting as harbingers of afternoon rain, I took knife in hand. Restraining their motion, I didn't make boats. I made lunch.

- Sprouted Spring Salad -

Sprouted quinoa
Meyer lemon juice


  1. Ah ha so that is why you sculpted. But creativity is always more important then dishes so you are forgiven:-)
    You know you were ahead of the fad on this veggie/fruit sculpting. There is a host of books now in the library with pages full of this very thing. You could have made books and lots of money back then. You missed your 'boat' so to say.

  2. Ah ha so that is what all the childhood stalling was about. But that is okay as creativity and artistic endeavors are never a waste of time.

    Do you know that the libraries are now full of books about vegetable and fruit creations? Dogs, cats, cars, etc all made from various produce. You were ahead of the fad as always.