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    What’s For Dinner?

    August 20, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    We are currently in a transition stage. Baby O. will be one year old in a couple of days, and he is beginning to eat table foods. I haven’t talked about this much, but O., too, ended up with some major allergies. I have my theories on why, but I won’t go into those. The important part is that I was able to recognize the symptoms early and quickly go and visit our beloved doctor, where his allergies were eliminated without further issue.

    However, my reading and researching of allergies and possible causes made me determine to keep O. off of grains and legumes for his entire first year. We almost made it, introducing beans at a Basque restaurant last Saturday night. He loved them, in case you were wondering.

    So as I said we are in transition. First, we have the transition from pureed foods to table foods. This is the point where I always want to make foods that even Baby can eat, and stop baking separate meals. Second, we have the allergy issue. We will begin introducing grains at this point, but we will keep away from gluten until 18 months of age as a safety precaution.

    I was delving through my Nourishing Traditions cookbook, searching out Baby-friendly recipes. And now I am halfway through my preparation of dosas, a traditional Indian food. The book calls them Indian-style Pancakes, though I prefer to call them dosas so that the children don’t expect me to serve them with syrup.

    Dosas are essentially one part lentils, two parts brown rice. The other ingredients are minimal. I am quite fond of lentils {the most nutritious of all legumes} and use them liberally in our meals. This particular recipe takes two full days to prepare. I began last night, soaking the whole legumes and grains in two separate bowls in a combination of water and white vinegar. Mid-morning, I drained them and blended them with a bit of salt and warm water in my blender, until I had a thick batter. Then I poured the mixture into a huge glass bowl, and now it is sitting at room temperature on my kitchen counter, where it will remain until tomorrow evening.

    This process is a method of fermenting the food. To put it simply, fermentation puts thousands of microorganisms to work, predigesting the food before you ever eat it.

    My cookbook contains a quote in the sidebar from Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods which explains the beauty of dosas:

    Because they are easily digested, they are often used as food for infants and invalids.

    Hence, my interest. A first-grain meal that is easy on the digestive tract, with extra nutrients unbound and ready for absorption and assimilation was exactly what I was looking for.

    We’ll be serving these “Indian pancakes” not with syrup, but with a yogurt sauce made from plain yogurt, lemon juice, salt and garlic. My children have found this process interesting. I’m just hoping we all find the meal…tasty. I figure we are safe since all of the ingredients are things we regularly consume, just not in this particular form.

    Are you trying anything new for dinner?

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  • Reply Brandy August 25, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Dear Karyn,

    Welcome back to the Internet. Hope this means you’re getting some sleep! I miss that Wayne’s World voice!

    On a more serious note, the meal prep only sounds elaborate. After reading Nourishing Traditions, I started soaking my grains and legumes, and so now it is pretty automatic. It is seriously nothing more than filling up a bowl of water, adding vinegar, and letting it sit on the counter.

    Now the falafels are a different story. And frankly, I panicked when I hit the second hour and still wasn’t done. I swore I’d never make them again at one point, but then I tasted them and now I’m torn. Even Baby O. liked them (sans pita bread, of course).

  • Reply Karyn August 25, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Seriously – you have time to do this elaborate meal prep, blog, care well for your children, be your husband’s girlfriend AND blog? You are super woman! I’m not worthy… (in my Wayne’s World voice) 🙂

  • Reply Brandy August 25, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Nanny Y.,
    They turned out great! I can see why they would be considered a comfort food. They aren’t too terribly sour, and they do have a pancake-like texture. The sauce was a nice touch (it is the one suggested in the book).

    A couple days later, since I’m on a foreign food kick, I made falafels from NT. The taste? Wonderful. However, comma. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to fry them without them ending up in bits! Maybe Kimbrah knows. I even got desperate and tried adding an egg, but no luck.

    By the way–I made a note in my cookbook about the turkey sausage salt, too. I think I cut it down the same amount…which makes me think it’s a typo!

    Your sweet potato concoction sounds like a wonderful side dish! I will try that next time. Most everyone around here likes sweet potatoes, so I don’t think I could go wrong with that.

    What a lovely delivery! I hope you enjoy each and every one. Isn’t it a lovely sound, that of the UPS man delivering books? 🙂

  • Reply Claire August 22, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Just to let you know that I came home from work last night and opened my mailbox to find:
    Saint George and the Dragon
    Twenty and Ten
    A Grain of Rice
    The Light at Tern Rock (read it last night)
    I can’t wait for my grandchildren to get here on Monday! I also received Building Her House by Nancy Wilson – and now I am on lock down with

  • Reply Kimbrah August 22, 2009 at 5:51 am

    We have been eating dosas for over a year now and my kids LOVE them! I use mung beans instead of lentils though (black pod gram) and I add fenugreek seeds during the soaking process. I grew two types of mung beans in my garden this year and they were made for this town/climate! I barely water them and they are still green and lovely and they put up these umbrellas or kind of like helicopter blades of beans that turn black when they are dry. I am always going to grow mung beans from now on because they are SO easy.

    Another tasty thing to serve with the dosas along with the yogurt sauce, is sweet potatoes with chopped green bell peppers and mustard seed. It is so tasty with the yogurt sauce over all of it. The dosas definitely have a sour taste to them. I think I am going to put them on my menu for next week, its been a bit since I have made them. Yum! 🙂

  • Reply Nanny Y. August 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I’m not trying anything particularly new tonight but I just wanted to say that those sound tasty! I hope you all like them. The only Nourishing Traditions recipes I’ve tried so far are kombucha (hubby won’t touch this at all and I like it but not enough to keep it going) and turkey breakfast sausage, which are delicious but salty if made as specified so I use a third to half of what is recommended.

    Please post how well this comes out. I hope they are worth the effort!

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