Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gluten-Free Breakfast : Teff Grain + Sucanat

Ever since going gluten-free thanks to Celiac Disease, I have been a huge fan of Teff grain for breakfast. This is what takes the place of the old pre-gluten-free days morning cereals (like Cream Of Wheat, e.g.). In fact, though my memory of Cream of Wheat is rather dated now, I would swear that the tiny little Teff grain, once cooked, has a very similar consistency to Cream of Wheat, but with considerable added flavor and the advantage of being Gluten-Free (plus high-fiber too!).

I absolutely love teff for a morning meal - filling, nutritious, and delicous!

I simply use Bob's Red Mill Teff Grain and cook it on the stovetop. Sometimes I will add some molasses into the mix, and/or cinammon, but another more recent variation for me has been the addition of Sucanat to the equation. To borrow from Wikipedia the definition of Sucanat:
Sucanat (a contraction of "Sugar Cane Natural") is non-refined cane sugar. Unlike refined and processed white sugar, Sucanat retains its molasses content; it is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice. The juice is extracted by mechanical processes, heated and cooled at which point the small brown grainy crystals are formed.
I was lucky enough to find Sucanat for the quite-reasonable price of $1.30 per pound at a county store near our new house.

That is a picture of the same cooked gluten-free teff cereal with a bit of sucanat on top. And, Teff is not the only receiving-dish for sucanat in my household... I love the stuff on baked Acorn Squash, Pumkin, and more. Sucanat is quite handy and versatile. I consider it much like molasses or brown sugar, but with the advantage of being able to shake it onto my foods easier and more accurately, and with a different texture.

Moving (in progress)...
Not only is that cooked teff cereal great tasting, it is simple to prepare, and has been saving me a ton of time in the morning lately. I find Teff filling enough to keep me going for many hours, which has been necessary with all the long days of putting fresh paint on the rooms in our house as we prepare for our move which is to commence shortly if all stays on schedule.

Been busy packing, and since I never did come up with any super idea for how to unload my current gluten-free recipes cookbooks inventory in a hurry, I still have to move those. I donated a few cases of books to various charities and Celiac-Disease organizations around the country that promised to donate the proceeds of any sales to charity too, so that helped some... but, the rest of my current Gluten-Free Desserts books are soon going by way of truck to the new house and office [note: I am not looking forward to moving those things! eek!]

Spring has sprung...
In the meantime, I hope all my Gluten-Free Blog readers are enjoying Spring. I snapped some pictures (in our current yard) showing my favorite season at its best. Here's one thing I will miss at the new house: a yard of beautiful large trees - in this case, a large Locust tree - but, trees make gardening on a larger scale a bit rough, so a change is required.

And, our current side flower-garden is starting to take shape for the year...

Now, this next picture may freak out all you spider-haters out there...
My wife discovered this little ball of life huddling together under a lily leaf... it is a mass of baby garden spiders (those yellow and black type that get HUGE when they grow up)...

They sure are neat looking, are they not?! And, just lightly blowing on them causes them to temporarily disperse, and then contract back together again shortly after. Quite a sight to see.

Well, back to packing and preparations for moving. Just figured I'd quickly share some pictures and my love of gluten-free teff (and sucanat) while I had a spare moment during a Spring rain downpour that started a few minutes ago and seems to be concluding already. enjoy!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Gluten-Free Beer : Sprecher Shakparo Review

This Sprecher Shakparo gluten-free beer was a new discovery for me, having just come across it at our local Heinen's supermarket here in the Cleveland area. I only drink been occasionally, but when I do, I like to try out any new gluten-free beers I encounter to see how they compare to my memories of "real beer" (from the pre-gluten-free days).

I must say, I rather enjoyed this Specher Brewery's creation - it goes a bit further than the standard sorghum-only varieties of gluten-free beer I have tried in the past, as the Sprecher beer ingredients (or beer recipe) makes use of both sorghum and millet. Many of the sorghum-only beers are just a bit too sweet for me and rather unremarkable. This beer has a bit more character and depth, and did not strike me as being as sweet as something like AB Redbridge.

Here is a quoted description of this wonderful gluten-free beer from the Sprecher Brewery web site:
"Sprecher's gluten free Shakparo Ale is a West African Shakparo-style beer brewed from sorghum and millet. An unfiltered, light, crisp ale with a cider or fruit profile and a dry vinous aftertaste, it is best characterized as an easy-drinking or session beer perfect for summer gatherings. This beer pairs nicely with lighter fare such as sandwiches, salads, chicken, fish, and spicier foods. [Mike's comments: we have also used this beer when baking some really nice beer-marinated Chipotle chicken and other recipes, and it works quite well, adding a nice flavor to the final product!]

Originally conceived of in an effort to provide a traditional African style beer for Milwaukee's African World Festival, our Mbege and Shakparo have won the hearts of people here at the brewery and have been promoted to year round beer status.

Because barley and wheat are not grown in large quantities in sub-Saharan Africa, traditional Mbeges and Shakparos are brewed with sorghum and millet and are therefore able to be brewed gluten-free since neither sorghum nor millet contain gluten. Being gluten-free make Shakparo and Mbege excellent alternatives for those suffering from celiac disease, a genetic disorder that inhibits the digestion of gluten. Our Shakparo and Mbege offerings have been brewed with celiacs in mind and are carefully crafted to ensure they remain gluten-free.

Beer Facts
Alcohol by Volume: 5.7%
Degrees Plato (Initial Gravity): 14P
Weeks Aged: 5
Bitterness Units: 9 IBU
Year First Brewed: 2006
Recommended Serving Temperature: 50°
Sizes: 16oz Bottles"
That is some rather detailed description -- especially this "bitterness units" and such, since I have no idea what it means, but it sure sounds technically impressive :)

They have another variety of gluten-free beer on the market according to the Sprecher Brewery's web site, but I have yet to find it at a grocery near me -- it is called "Mbege" and adds bananas to the recipe also! That sounds quite intriguing - so long as it is subtle addition.

I need to update my Gluten-Free Beer Comparison blog from back in September 2006 to reflect this new and welcome addition. This Sprecher Shakparo beer compares quite favorably and brings with it a welcome new option for those moments I find myself wanting a beer (which, lately, with all the massive house-painting efforts, has been more frequent than usual. heh).

I am still awaiting a more creative, darker, more robust beer though... please, someone out there, bring forth a gluten-free dark beer or gluten-free stout that uses some gluten-free oats, teff, or a mix of other darker gluten-free grains that could bring new life to GF Beers. In the mean time, this beer will tide me over.