Jorge and I had just finished viewing a YouTube video about pseudoscience when I heard his stomach growling. I glanced at him and involuntarily grinned. Jorge laughed, “Watching investigative reports makes me hungry.” I replied that his interest in debunking pseudoscience should be nourished by eating some pseudocereal. He shot me a quizzical expression, knowing that I was up to something.
“Really, there are such things as pseudocereals, and they don’t need to be debunked.” I explained that I had just replenished my winter’s supply of buckwheat flour. Did he want to try some buckwheat waffles? Buckwheat is a good way of fueling an active brain.
Most of us have enjoyed buckwheat in some way. It’s widely used because it is a satisfying, savory food. Buckwheat is more than just pancakes and waffles. The pseudocereal has found its way into the cuisine of such far-ranging cultures, as the Americas, Europe, and Japan.
Buckwheat, as a food crop, appeared first in the Himalayas of Tibet and the high plains of Southeastern China. Buckwheat and barley provided most of the essential protein, minerals, fats, and other nutrients to the inhabitants of those areas. The short growing times of buckwheat made it indispensable to people living in high altitudes. It eventually found its way west by trade along the Silk Road to Eastern Europe. The food later arrived in the Americas on colonial ships.
Cooking buckwheat can be a strange experience for the uninitiated. If you heat the whole grains in a pan without oil or liquids, the grains expand to surprising proportions then collapse into a thick, porridge. To avoid this effect, be sure to use some cooking oil or a beaten egg when preparing groats, tabouleh, or kasha.
I gathered the ingredients for our lunch and brought out the waffle iron. Then Jorge asked why is buckwheat not a cereal, but instead, is a pseudocereal? I explained that buckwheat is a relative of beans and pulses. Farmers grow it as a flowering herb, not a standard row-crop. Botanically, buckwheat has more in common with rhubarb than conventional wheat.
Last year, while researching the plight of the world’s honey bees, I discovered that buckwheat’s long lasting blooms provide ample nectar that encourages bee colonies. The resulting honey is dark and rich. So, planting buckwheat is a win-win proposition all around.
Jorge asked what we would be eating, and would it be soon? So, I opened the card file and showed him the recipe my aunt Emma had given to me a long time ago.
Aunt Emma’s Buckwheat Waffles
1 cup of all purpose (white) flour
1 cup of buckwheat flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 and 3/4 cups of milk or buttermilk
1/2 cup of cooking oil or melted butter
Stir all the dry ingredients together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while whisking them together. Do NOT over mix the batter.
Set the batter aside. Now, plug in and turn on your waffle iron, then allow it to heat. While the iron heats, the batter will “rest”.
When the waffle iron is ready, ladle batter onto the iron, close it and allow the batter to bake. When the steam diminishes, the waffle should be golden brown.
Serve immediately with butter and a favorite topping.
After the first waffle was baked, I placed it on a plate and served it to my friend. He topped his waffle with applesauce that I had heated in the microwave. When my waffle was ready, I smoothed a little peanut butter onto it, then a layer of applesauce. I ladled more batter into the iron so we could feast on pseudocereal waffles to our heart’s content.