Fooled by Kamut

Happy Herbert's Ancient Grains Kamut Pretzels have a great name. They even taste quite good. But don't be fooled, Kamut is not necessarily an ancient grain. I was greatly disappointed to learn that Kamut is a brand and a registered trademark. This was just not as exciting of a history as I thought it might be when I purchased the bag of pretzels at the natural foods store near my office.

After consulting the Kamut website, I couldn't help but feel that the Kamut or Khorasan industry was trying to convince me that this product is ancient, even though it is officially traced back to 1949. Not sure I feel this qualifies as ancient. Maybe ancient-inspired?

However, I am pleased to know the Kamut Khorasan industry is working to cultivate organic agriculture and support organic farmers. But, personally I would like to know more about how much of this grain is imported, because organic or not, transportation of even ancient-inspired grain ought to be minimized.

I also found some great information from Purdue's Horticulture department that was also uplifting about this grain. Here's a snippet:

"Kamut arrived in the U.S. approximately 40 years ago, when a U.S. airman mailed 36 kernels from Egypt to his father in Montana. The seed was increased and produced commercially for a few years, but was discontinued due to lack of markets and yield averages which were lower than wheat. In 1977, the Quinn family secured a quart jar of remnant seed from which they selected and propagated a specific seed type that was registered as QK 77, and named Kamut, a word thought to mean wheat in ancient Egypt.

"Kamut production in the U.S. is determined through exclusive contracts with Montana Flour and Grains, Big Sandy (R. Quinn, pers. commun, 1995). All contracts require organic certification of the crop and agronomic practices for production are outlined by Montana Flour and Grains. Results of yield comparisons between Kamut and hard red spring wheats are similar to the results observed in the comparisons between "the covered wheats" and other free threshing wheats. Kamut will out yield spring wheats when environmental stresses are experienced during the growing season, and yield equal to or lower in more ideal growing seasons. Kamut plant height reaches 127 cm with good to excellent straw strength."

Additionally, and quite exciting (also from Purdue):

"Kamut products made from whole grain flours have a mild, nutty flavor. Individuals who experienced certain types of allergic reactions to products made from common wheat are able to eat Kamut products."

I should also note that Happy Herbert's products are quite enjoyable. But beware: their website makes a crunching sound every time you visit.


Spiced Up Carrots

On an adventure at the Chelsea Organic Market (a corner grocery gone organic on the Northwest corner of 7th Ave. and 20th St. in New York) I stumbled upon Danielle's Spicy Carrot Chips. I had a cold, so I was also stocking up on some Yogi echinacea tea, but I thought the spice factor would be a bonus sinus-clearer.

Danielle's packaging was very pleasing, with a white background and a lovely sketch of a bunch of carrots. Their other crispy dried fruit and vegetable products were all similarly decorated and exotic sounding.

Result: delicious and colorful on the inside. Although I found them quite tasty, 2 out of 3 workmates did not enjoy them. I would certainly buy them again and I would try the other flavors.

Check out a couple of other reviews of this line of products: iateapie.net and cool hunting.

Organic Indian

After lingering at the local Foodtown around the corner, I spotted a few items from the Arora Creations line of products. I was originally drawn to the the simple font and clean layout of the packaging, and I wondered if they would be any good.

So, last Sunday I gave two of them a try: Vegan Veg Rice and the Chicken Tikka Masala Spice Blend. It was quite an endeavor, taking me about 2 hours to do all of the prep and cook the food as well as I wanted to.

Results: the smell of the rice didn't really go well with the aromatic chicken curry concoction. I would pick up the spice pack again, but probably choose a simpler, more homemade rice. I also dream of a creamier version of Chicken Tikka Masala, but all in all, this version was pretty good. Now I just want to learn how to make some good nan.

Colors of Chard

After a cider and a couple rounds of Tapper at Barcade in Brooklyn, I took refuge at the Sunac just a few blocks over. Nothing like a great grocery store to cure a night of bar life. Here is what I found: rainbow chard. It was beautiful and I couldn't believe it was just hanging out in the refrigerated produce section on a Saturday night.

So, what is this rainbow chard and what can you make with it?

Chard shares a family with beets, also a fav of mine, and it can be sautéed to perfection. Or you can try your hand at this delicious-looking chard and fennel gratin.