March 18, 2015

Millet madness — millet bowls and millet burgers

Babysitting is fun.

We recently did a whole bunch of baby sitting for our grandkids while their Papa was out of town and their Mama had to play cello in the orchestra for a multi-night high school theater production at the school where she teaches music. One of our "duties" was to attend a talent show sponsored by Miss E's elementary school. Miss E is seven years old, and she is now brave enough to appear on a stage and perform.

The concert had a number of singers, a guitar soloist, lots of dancers, a couple of cheerleaders, and a hula hoop demonstration performed by Miss E and two friends. I'm not saying hula hooping isn't a talent — it certainly is — and we and the rest of the audience were exceedingly entertained by the performance, but something about it triggered an old memory of a performance her papa gave when he was about six.

He was a Suzuki violin student at the University of Wisconsin School of Music, and the recitals we attended for all the children from the youngest to the most accomplished, were impressive. They took place in a beautiful, small concert hall at the school of music. At the time he was learning violin, he was also obsessed with playing harmonica, and asked me if I thought he could play his harmonica at the violin recital. I didn't think so, but told him to ask his teacher, and the lovely Mary Beth Cullitan, after hesitating just a moment, said yes. Her goal was to encourage a love of music in whatever form it presented itself. So, at some point during the recital of classical string music, future-papa brought down the house with a polished and rousing harmonica rendition of Old Joe Clark. It was a weirdly thrilling parenting moment that I'll never forget.

Roasted carrots and chickpeas plus kale and tahini-umeboshi sauce over millet.

I love when a current happening unearths an old treasured memory, and I get to enjoy it again. It's a little like when a recent event, in this case a trip to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, inspires a string of cooking choices that play on memories, and become new favorites, reminding me in turn of the source of their inspiration. We were recently in Santa Cruz and I loved the lunch bowl I had at Café Gratitude so much I couldn't stop thinking about it. The grain in the bowl was millet, and I've become a little obsessed with millet, as you will see. Millet tends to be an overlooked food here, and in fact, most millet grown in the U.S. is grown for bird seed. Millet comes from a group of seeded grasses and is widely used for food in arid and semi-arid areas of the world. I like it a lot.


When we returned home from our trip, I made a millet bowl with roasted carrots and chickpeas, plus kale, topped with green onions and tahini sauce.It was so good it was shortly followed by a similar bowl with sweet potatoes, black beans and kale. The kale for the bowl partly came from a leftover deli container of PCC emerald city salad. There was just a tiny bit of salad left so I added a bunch more green onion and chopped kale to the container, mixed it with the remains, and used it for my bowl. I also warmed it up. Although the emerald city salad is meant to be served raw and cold, it also makes a great warm salad.


When I made the millet bowl, I made extra millet because I wanted to make millet burgers. Millet has a chewy texture that seems just right as a base for burgers, and the patties were wonderful. I wish I had written down a recipe, but I was using up leftovers that were in the refrigerator, adding spices like a mad scientist, and I have no precise memory of what went into the burgers. I think there were a couple of carrots, a few mushrooms, a bit of leftover kale, some chickpeas, perhaps some ground flax seed, half an onion, and other stuff I can't remember. The burgers were browned on the stove, then baked. This is the way I prefer to cook — without recipes — but then when something turns out well, sometimes I wish I could make it again.

Do you ever cook with millet? I've read both pros and cons about its nutritional value, but I guess that's true of most foods these days. Sigh.


12 comments:

  1. The millet burgers look good!
    millet is not a grain I buy often, mostly because I'm never sure what to do with it, but the bowl with roasted carrots and chickpeas looks great. Not sure what I'm so afraid of.
    I have made Gena's spirulina millet dish, which was great.

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    1. The millet burgers WERE good. Millet cooks in about 20 minutes, making it my kind of grain. :)

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  2. Yep. Those wing-it recipes can be so good. I've had a few that I have never been able to recreate because I didn't use a recipe. And those millet patties look so good too! :(

    Does your son still play the violin? The violin is probably my favorite musical instrument. Not so much a lively violin, but a mellow violin is a powerful thing of beauty. I wish I could play.

    That first picture needs no caption - that must have been one tasty snack! I always think that the deliciousness of a food is directly related to the messiness of one's face after eating it. The messier the face, the tastier the food! :)

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    1. I thought of you when I wrote that. You understand. I was grabbing things from the fridge that I didn't want to throw away, and somehow it all worked out.

      My son plays the viola and the guitar. He also sings. One gift I wanted to give my kids was music.

      If messiness is the key to deliciousness, then the frozen blueberries were ambrosia.

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  3. Looks like a super fun time for all! :-) Hanging out with kids triggers the telling of stories of when their parents (my siblings) were little and the things they did, passing down the family stories. Millet isn't something I've cooked with before even though I keep seeing it pop up on other blogs. I've got to get on the ball and try it out, those burgers look awesome!

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    1. When I told my son the harmonica story, he didn't remember playing it in the concert! I was really surprised because it made such an impression on me. He enjoyed the story, though!

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  4. That top photo warms my heart UP! That's one happy, healthy kiddo.

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    1. :) Yes, the photo says all there is to say about enjoying a favorite food!

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  5. Millet! I use to eat it all the time but haven't replenished my jar lately. Plus- alkalizing, for a grain and easy to digest. Con- I've read it's a high glycemic grain but whatever, it tastes great. I usually just mix it with beans and salad. I use to mix amaranth or teff grain with it too. I love your son's music teacher stepped up, great memory!

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    1. That's exactly what I I was thinking about millet — why had I not refilled the millet jar in so long. I also read that it was 'possibly' not a good food for people with thyroid issues.

      My son's music teacher was a gem. She even started a class for a few of the interested parents and taught us to play violin, too!. One of our class members (there were three of us) went on to join a community orchestra!

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  6. SNAP! I bought a bag of millet for the first time the other week after being inspired by a restaurant dish and I've been experimenting with it at home. I haven't even got past the first stage of working out how to cook it properly though - I've read to cook it in double the volume of water, but when I do that, it's still crunchy in the middle. How long should I be cooking it for?

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    1. I followed directions that said to cook it one part millet to two parts water for 20 minutes. Then let it sit in the pot with the lid still on for 10 minutes. It came out just right.

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