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Cornmeal

Prepare Right To Eat Right
 
An Introduction:
 
"The well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice, can be misleading and harmful in its consequences; for while our ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them as presented in our modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas, bran preparations and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions. Our ancestors, and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world will prove our point:...in Africa the natives soak coarsely ground corn overnight before adding it to soups and stews and they ferment corn or millet for several days to produce a sour porridge called ogi...Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes, called pozol, are fermented for several days and for as long as two weeks in banana leaves..."1
 
One Soaking Preparation Method for More Nutritional Benefits (Soaking):
For more information on soaking grains see Food and Nutritional Information
 
Corn needs to be soaked in lime water (dolomite powder) before it is used in recipes.
  • Put about one inch (1") of dolomite powder in a 2 quart jar
  • Add non-chlorinated water, screw on the top, and shake it thoroughly.
  • Let it stand overnight. The powder will settle to the bottom and the remaining clear liquid will contain the necessary lime water. Carefully pour the clear lime water into another jar without disturbing the powder at the bottom, and store it where it is cool, but it doesn't have to be refrigerated.

Depending upon the recipe, 2 cups of cornmeal is soaked in 1 ½ to 2 cups of lime water for 7 hours, and it is soaked an additional 12 to 24 hours after adding 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt.

Examples: Cornbread is 2 cups of cornmeal to 1 1/2 cups of lime water, and 1 cup of buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt. Cornmeal Spoon Bread is 2 cups of cornmeal to 2 cups of lime water, and 2 cups of buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt.

When making polenta, use 2 cups of cornmeal to 1 cup lime water, plus 4 tablespoons of whey or yoghurt.

There are always other ingredients to add, i.e. flour, butter or whatever the recipe lists. Add these ingredients to the wet cornmeal after the second soaking is done.

It is wise to grind your own corn, as with all whole grains, but this is not always possible. Commercial mesa is corn that has already been soaked in lime water. It is best to keep mesa in the freezer because, like all commercial whole wheat flours, it becomes rancid quickly. (Healing Naturally By Bee)
 
Why Soak?

Soaking, fermenting, sour leavening or sprouting grains, and soaking seeds, nuts and legumes (any plant that grows seeds in a pod such as peas and beans) before cooking, baking or eating them initiates the sprouting process which neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and removes phytates (phytic acid) found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Phytates block absorption of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, etc., and most of all zinc, in the intestinal tract. These minerals are needed for strong bones and teeth, and for overall health.

These foods also contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with the absorption of proteins, which causes gastric distress and chronic deficiencies in amino acids. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize phytic acid, but it also removes enzyme inhibitors and breaks down complex starch. (Healing Naturally By Bee)

 
Nutritional Information:
Corn strengthens overall energy, blood, the stomach, and bladder.  Corn is used in the treatment of heart disease and loss of appetite, as well as to stimulate bile flow, prevent the formation of urinary stones, lower blood sugar levels, and for cases of difficult urination or edema.

Food Facts:
Dried ground corn. Whole-grain or stone-ground cornmeal is crushed between millstones leaving a coarser texture with the nutrient-packed germ still attached. Cornmeals also come in white, yellow and blue varieties (depending on the color of the corn). Self-rising cornmeal is a white or yellow cornmeal with leavening agents and salt added.


Simple from Scratch:
Basic Hot Cereal Recipe:
3 ½ cups water
¼ tsp salt
1-2 tbsp oil or butter
1 cup cornmeal

Start the water heating in a separate pot, while the cornmeal is being sautéed in the cereal pot.  Stir the roasted cornmeal for even browning, until a pleasing grain aroma greets your nose.  Take the pot off the fire, let it sit a minute or two, and then pour into the boiling or nearly boiling water.  Use hotpads!  Stir briskly, then return to low flame and continue cooking for 10-30 minutes (less time for the fine grain cornmeal, more for coarse).  If the cornmeal is burning, continue the cooking in a double boiler.  Add a little more hot water if it gets too thick.
(Tassajara Cooking: Norval Delwyn Carlson)

More Recipes
Arepa ~From a CSA Member

The arepa is a flat, unleavened patty made of cornmeal which can be grilled, baked, or fried. The characteristics of the arepa vary from region to region. For example, Colombian arepas may vary by color, flavor, size, thickness, and garniture from  region to region while Venezuelan arepas may be stuffed with cheese, vegetables, or meat. (cited from Wikipedia)

Ingredients
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup crumbled Columbian cheese (Queso Columbiana) or grated mozzarella (1/4 pound)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

dash of salt

Directions

1. Mix together flour and salt in a bowl, then stir in water until incorporated. Mix it together by hand until the dough is soft and there are no lumps.
2. Form a small handful of dough into a golf ball size ball.
3. Put a small hole in the middle of the ball and put a small amount of cheese in the hole. Flatten the ball between your palms, gently pressing to form a 1/2-inch-thick patty, then gently press around side to eliminate cracks. Form more disks with remaining dough in same manner, transferring to wax-paper-lined surface.
4. Heat oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then fry arepas in 2 batches, turning over once, until deep golden in patches, (about 8 to 10 minutes side). Drain on paper towels.

Cornbread ~CSA Member Pat Hanahan

1 cup of organic cornmeal
1 cup of BD whole wheat flour (I special order the whole wheat flour from the CSA)
1/4 cup or less of organic turbanado or any organic sweetener(I used 3/4 of a fourth of a cup today)
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons of Celtic Sea Salt (I used two teaspoons today.)
1/4 cup of raw CSA butter cold
1 cup raw milk cold is fine (No, I did not try yogurt today but I only make one change at a time.)
1 to 2 well whipped BD eggs (I used two today.)

Preheat your oven to 425 and butter an 8x8 Pyrex dish. Cornbread is very forgiving unlike most bakes goods and can be slapped together although you will get good results from sifting and precise measurement just like you would do for a cake as well. (By sifting I mean sifting and dumping anything that is left in the sifter or the sieve back into the mixture.) Today I just dumped everything together. Mix your dry ingredients until they become a reasonably homogeneous powder. "Cut" your cold butter in your dry ingredients and mix that mixture well to let the flour mixture coat your small chunks of butter. I use a stiff whisk to do that but you can use a manual pastry blender or a fork. Dump you milk and eggs in and mix by hand with just enough strokes to get the milk and eggs into the dry mixture to give a "loose dough" consistency. Put your loose dough into your buttered 8x8 dish and pop it into the oven for about 25 minutes. It will be ready when it is a darker brown than you would expect from cornbread (because of the whole wheat flour) and you will clearly smell it. Yes, you can use the cake tester as well and it should come out clean. Remove the cornbread from the pan immediately after it comes from the oven. I use a table knife to loosen the sides first. Then I use a spatula to gently pry the sides loose and lift up the cornbread a little before I finally remove the whole cornbread.


A word about whole wheat flours for those of you who don't bake... Most of them including many of the organic name brand flours out there are just terrible. They become rancid before you even buy them. The the BD flour the CSA sells is to die for. I've made the best whole wheat pancakes out of it and other baked goods out of it. However... just like the whole wheat flour in the store the BD flour from the CSA will become rancid if you let it sit on the shelf at room temperature. I just received some new flour after I let my last batch become rancid. I am experimenting with keeping it tightly wrapped in its original paper bag and putting the original bag in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.

Easy Corn Grits Cereal and Polenta~ from CSA Member Jessica Tomback

We love cornmeal grits and cooked polenta because it's so easy and versatile. We usually make more than we need for one meal (around 2 cups cornmeal) so we can serve some with breakfast as "grits" and then chill the leftovers to broil for future dinner. To make polenta, you’ll need: a nice heavy 4-quart pot, a wooden spoon, spatula, or very hearty whisk.

Cornmeal grits:
3.5 cups of water (or a combination of water and milk)
1 cup cornmeal
double this if you want leftovers for polenta

1.Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
2.When the water is boiling, slowly sprinkle the polenta into the boiling water, stirring all the while. Take your time; the slow sprinkle/stir keeps the cornmeal from forming lumps.
3.When all of the cornmeal has been added, reduce the heat to the lowest simmer possible and continue stirring until the polenta is smooth and thick.
4.Cover the pot, and stir the polenta every five minutes or so to keep it from sticking, until the polenta is done to your taste, 10-20 minutes. Just before you turn it out of the pot, you may stir in parmesan, cheddar, or any other grated cheese, 2-4 tbs. butter, chopped parsley or any fresh herb, green onion, chive...

Serving:
Serve soft polenta immediately from the pot (this is basically grits).

For pan-fried or broiled polenta: spread the soft polenta into a buttered 9x5-inch loaf pan or cookie sheet. Chill overnight. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and pan fry in butter or broil a few minutes per side until golden.
My favorite savory topping is like a bruschetta, and is adapted from local author Aviva Goldfarb's Six O'Clock Scramble cookbook: Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 clove garlic, minced and  about 5 basil leaves chopped. Pour this oil mixture over broiled polenta and add chopped tomatoes. This is a great appetizer or light main course.
We also like the broiled polenta as a sweet warm morning treat with maple syrup or cinnamon sugar :).
 
Footnotes/Sources:
Fallon, Sally, Enig, Mary. "Be Kind to Your Grains...And Your Grains Will Be Kind To You." The Western Price Foundation for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts. 1 Jan 2000. The Western A. Price Foundation. Excpt: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. © 1999.


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