We've past Easter and the First Day of Spring. It's definitely in the air. All over the Internet, too. Every search engine homepage has "March Madness" plastered across it and even articles on coping techniques. It kinda piqued my curiosity. I have my visions of what March Madness means. It means that I'm bored with most conversations on most of my email lists and I do mass deletes. I'm sure that there are treasure troves of information that will be forever lost to me and my life will never be the same for being bereft of those gems, but I dare say I shall survive. Can't sit still for doing much on the computer these days. It means that Bug and I hover over my seedling trays, chasing the patches of sunlight through the house over the course of the day, brewing up batches of chamomile tea for watering them, and doing endless head counts to update the census on how many sprouts have surfaced to date. So far, the Siberian tomatoes are living up to their reputation as early doers. It augers well. It means that I'm pressing the Hobbits outside to soak up the tentative sunshine, riding their scooters through the narrowing patches of snow that are shrinking from the yard. It means that we're drawing to the close of the lesson books we've chosen this year and putting the finishing touches on our test prep plans for April. Starting to make educational goals for next year. And this year, it means the milestone co-op order that is the largest we've ever handled to date. Yup. Changing the world one meal at a time.
With dim realization, it finally burst through upon me that the March Madness in Internet question is the playoffs. Duh. I admit to being absolutely sports-impaired. I even had to Google up to see what specific sport was encompassed by this flurry of playoffs. Basketball, it seems. Double duh. To compound my transgression, not only am I intransigent in my ignorance of sports, but I married someone who is similarly handicapped. It was no small asset in my eyes that Tool Guy is even further impaired in his interest in sports than myself. Let's see...non-smoker...loves to window shop...doesn't do sports. You may kiss the bride!
No, my March Madness is a restlessness. A discontent with the usual schedule of events. I look at my regular to-do list and can't rally anything like enthusiasm. Not even a remote sense of duty or responsibility to get it done. Good thing we're at the end of our canned curriculum, 'cause I'm the one who wants to play hooky. I wish I could even say that I'm distracted by the prospect of bursting out of doors and digging into the spring chores that will be waiting for me when the ground has thawed and dried sufficiently. Not even that. It's something that I can't yet define, but it's putting up its pale, thin shoots just as surely as the tiny specks of green that dot my seed trays. Dog is doing something similar...wandering the house aimlessly, having difficulty settling down into any activity for more than a few minutes. He's bored with his usual cadre of books and I'm giving him pointers on how to stretch his comfort zone into picking books that he might have overlooked before that still connect with his interests. Only Bug and Princess are still spinning through life like oblivious whirling dervishes, seemingly uneffected by all of this. I'm beginning to understand the reasoning for spring tonics like dandelion root, yellow dock, and nettles. They are just the ticket for invigorating and washing away the detritus of winter.
This is a good time of the year for sprouts of all kinds...the kind we mean to plant and the kind we mean to just eat. I've resumed sprouting fresh greens, feeling the craving for the crunch and crisp of new little leaves bursting with flavor and freshness. I'm also branching out into some new kinds of sprouting...grains. Janie Quinn, in her book Essential Eating, strongly encourages sprouting grains before using them. Her reasoning is that starches draw heavily on the pancreas' resources, probably more heavily than most bodies are capable of matching. But when grains are sprouted, most bodies recognize the grain, not as a starch but as a vegetable, making it much more readily digestible. Okay, I'm always up for a new project.
Sprouting grains does some very nice things to it. In the case of rice, it gives it a sweeter taste...sort of malted, if you will. It also makes it much easier to grind. I've found that rice is a very hard grain and some mills have trouble delivering anything better than a very grainy flour. When the rice is sprouted, the flour is much finer and softer. Sprouting rice for flour is very easy. It just takes some forward thinking and planning to use it on a regular basis and keep up with the typical demand of the average Hobbit appetite.
2 cups rice or other grain
Appropriate sized sprouter lid or cheesecloth with rubber band
Wide mouth quart jar or larger
Add rice to jar and fill with water. Allow to soak overnight or 8 hours. Cover with sprouter lid or secure cheesecloth over the opening and drain, rinse until water is clear, then drain again. Leave jar inverted at an angle to allow water to completely drain. Rinse and drain 2-3 times a day. I find rice takes longer to sprout than some of the seeds I've sprouted in the past, but it will happen....usually in 4-6 days. It is only necessary to sprout until the tail is about 1/8" inch long or one third of the length of the grain. After the sprout has reached the appropriate length, drain thoroughly and spread out on a baking sheet. Dehydrate at 100* or so degrees for about 12-24 hours or until completely dry. They can then be cooked as whole grains or ground into flour.
I'm still experimenting on the baking with sprouted flour thing. Gluten free baking is twitchy and this seems to be no exception. My very first loaf of sprouted bread never made it to the cutting board. Apparently it is going to take more baking time than with unsprouted flour. When I pulled the loaf out of the oven and flipped it out of the pan, the lovely crust collapsed on the still mushy center. Ah, the joys of "cooking dangerously." Hopefully, the next loaf will see me much more contented.
To sprout or not to sprout...there is no question.