Monday, August 31, 2009

Sprouting Grains

So my very first project with this new "becoming Maggie" sort of theme was to sprout some wheat grains. It's something I've looked into before and was ready to buy the sprouting tray, the sprouting seeds, etc etc...until I realized I didn't need any of that. Some wheat from my my bins, a mason jar and some cheesecloth were all that were needed for this project. It was that easy.
So, here were very first jar of sprouted wheat grains.
I used a wide mouth mason jar (because getting enough air into the jar is important to the sprouts), with the lid removed. You will need the rim to hold on the cheesecloth (or a rubber band) but a rim holds tighter, so it makes rinsing and draining (of which there is a fair amount) easier. This project actually couldn't be easier, so it's fun to do with your kids. They love to see something come from much more amazing could a sprout be? I know I was excited to pull the jar out of the cabinet and see all the wormy little fingers growing out of what used to just be grain.

I will digress a little to explain why I have wheat lying I'm sure most people do not. For years I'd toyed with the idea of grinding my own wheat and making my own bread. And for years I thought about it and planned it, and then one day I convinced my husband it was time. So we headed out to the little shop and bought a grain mill and huge buckets of grains. My kids spent days playing with the grain...they still get excited when I open the big bucket. They love to dig their hands in and feel the grains...ok...I do too. (It makes me feel like a pioneer...any one every watch pioneer house on PBS? Loved it.) So this is why I have so many grains. And before you I don't make a lot of bread...yet. But I will. I do however grind my wheat for any recipe we's shockingly simple and fast. So everything we make from brownies to pie has some combination of fresh ground flour. (We've ground everything from oats to kidney beans) The kids have a blast grinding flour too...I swear why people ever waste their money on video games when flour grinders are just as appealing!! Ok, my kids are under 4...I realize this will change, but for now I revel in the fact that they think the amish lifestyle is the coolest.
So here we to sprout grains...I already mentioned the mason jar and the lid.
1) I used a about 3/4 cups of grains to start with, but frankly it doesn't matter. I wouldn't fill the jar more than 1/4 full with grains. You can see from the sprouted pictures that they really fill out the jar. (So don't overfill)
2) Cut the cheesecloth to size and place over the lid, then secure the metal band around it to hold it in place. From here I never took the lid off until I was ready to "harvest" them.
3) Rinse and drain them in the jar, then cover them with tepid water and leave them to sit for about 18 hours. (I keep the jar in a cabinet out of the way and nice and dark)
4) After 18 hrs drain the water and rinse a couple of times. Drain the water again and then put it back in the dark cabinet. Make sure lots of air can get in. You will need to rinse and drain them 2-3 times a day. This isn't an exact science, but it's to keep the mold at this is a step you won't want to skip. (Besides, this is where the magic begins and you don't want to miss it!)

5) After about 24hrs you will see germination begin with the little root tails busting through the grain. Every day that goes by you will see more and more growth. Around 36-48hrs you will see the actual sprout appear. Now, this is where you have to decide when to stop the growth. Every stage of the process brings about different chemical and physical differences, so if you want to eat them raw, use them in salads, throw them in a stir fry...or use them to make a sprouted bread. (My first attempt was an utter I won't be writing that one up yet)
I have read that you will want to let the sprouts sit in the sunlight for up to 2 hours to let the chlorophyl do it's that's what we did. Laurel found a nice sunny spot...we let it soak up the sun and then we sat down and ate our bounty. Laurel said they taste like water beans. I would say they were crunchy with a slightly sweet, almost watermelon-y aftertaste. I would be happy to use them instead of rice or couscous in a cold grain type salad. Of course they are a suitible way to include grains into a RAW-vegan lifestyle.
All in all it was an easy project, and fun to do with kids. Plus, if it gets my little ones eating new and healthy stuff...awesome. This week we'll try our hand at sprouting some other grains...maybe millet. And once I have success with a homemade sprouted bread I'll post it.

JUST A NOTE- I tried millet, which has become my new favorite grain for other things...and it didn't work. Just didn't sprout. This could be for a couple of reasons...
1) I didn't take care of it the way I did the first time with the wheat (and so millet is getting a bad rap)
2) It could be that millet goes through an extra processing step (like pearled or hulled barley) making it unable to sprout...this is a guess
3) Millet is so small that in my jar method it might not be getting enough oxygen since it really packs itself together (also a guess)

Rather than try and figure it out, I'm going to do some beans next, and then I might try millet again sometime in the future. But my warning is to start with a larger grain like wheat.

Holy Moly Life is a-changing

So it's been a million years since I wrote. It's been a heck of a year, what can I say? It was almost a year ago that I began selling products under Maggie Blue Designs. I learned a lot this year, had a lot of fun...and had a lot of frustration. It really revived in me a spirit of design and fun and I am so glad I did it. On that note however, I will not be reopening the store for any custom work. One of the things I learned this year is that it took too much time away from my family, and didn't make me much money. I don't regret it, it was great fun...but I just can't take time away from my family anymore. Granted some of it wasn't fun. I dealt with some real pills...the kind I wouldn't have allowed to bother me in my normal life, but since they were customers I couldn't just tell them what I should have. Some people are just obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious...and thankfully I'm done with that part. Now to be fair the majority of my clients were awesome, and I really think ETSY has created this amazing place where amazing people create and cool people can buy their stuff. And on the whole I'd say only 3-4 of my clients were difficult to deal with...but they really overshadowed the awesome ones...of which I had many.
Since my life is going in a different direction I just don't have time for it right now. I will likely still sell things here and there...but because I feel like stretching my creative muscle...not because I have to. I still have a million sketched ideas that I plan to see come to life...but it will have to work into my schedule. What is this new direction you ask? Well, besides my two kids (2&4 yrs old) and my full time day-job (chemist), I will be going back to school two nights a week to learn construction. Technically it's a residential carpentry program, but it touches on everything in building a house. It's very hands on and I can't wait. In the longterm I have no idea what this will do for me...but in the short time we finally got our offer accepted on a short sale that we put in 4 months ago. We have 3 weeks to close...then the hard work begins. It's an almost complete tear-down. It needs a large addition and the current house will have to be completely stripped, rewired and redone. We are hoping to do as much of it ourselves as we can. Thankfully we have some freedom to do that. While we aren't rich we are very good with our the house we live in now is paid off. Since that's the case we plan to live in it for the next year while we slowly renovate the other property. We are so's 2.5 acres with a creek on the back, tons of mature hardwoods (including magnolia's and pecan trees). We really can't wait to get started on the project...but that means even less time to do other things. But, here's the thing...I don't want to give up on Maggie Blue. I want to change it. I've loved using my creativity this year, and I've loved talking to you guys about your creativity. So, I plan to continue to post things I've made...still have give-a-ways...and I'd like to share some of the how-to's of my projects with you guys. I've learned so much this year, and people have written wonderful things about how they wish they could sew like me. I couldn't "sew like me" this time last year...but I just jumped in head first and learned so much. So I'd like to share a few of my more popular projects with you guys. Like my personalized purse and the monster tote. They are so incredibly easy I swear.
Besides just the design stuff, I want to share the other parts of my life that make up what I consider to fall under the realm of Maggie Blue (not my's more like a at my best). Maggie Blue can do anything, she is fearless. She builds houses and mosaics floors, she designs kids clothing and makes jam. She grinds wheat and makes homemade bread from hand. She can garden, run a marathon and build a tree house. (I can't do all these things of course...but every time I learn a new skill I come closer to being Maggie Blue) And that's my be as much like what I picture her to be.
This week's project was to sprout some wheat grains. My daughter and I started the project on Friday night...and now we have a huge mason jar filled with sprouted wheat grains. In fact, we're sharing a plate of sprouts right now. She says they taste like water beans. I have no idea what that means...but they do have sort of a watermelon-y after taste. They're a little chewy and a little sweet, pretty tasty. I'm surprised. I spent part of my morning reading up on making a loaf of sprouted wheat I will try my hand at that this afternoon. So my first post in this new world of "becoming Maggie" will be about how to sprout grains and then how to make sprouted wheat bread. The first recipe calls for no flour, yeast, salt or sugar. Just sprouted wheat...can you imagine? It's straight out of Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (the bible of whole grain bread recipes) we'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, wish me luck on this new direction...and send me your ideas, thoughts, projects, etc. I'd love to see them! I want this to be fully interactive...that's how Maggie would like it.
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