Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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After a special visit to Global Foods —

I only get to go to Global Foods in St L about twice a year, because though I’m in St L quite often, I almost always have dogs in the car. In that case, it’s usually a) too hot, or b) too cold, or c) just too unnerving to leave the dogs in the car for an hour and a half while I carefully go down every aisle.

But since I needed to take Deb’s girls back to her and pick up my Ish, I could cheat by dropping her girls off, going to Global Foods, then coming back to pick up Ish and admire her recent litters of puppies (a litter of five right before Christmas and a litter of two on New Year’s Eve — she actually called her vet out of a New Year’s Eve party at ten till midnight for an emergency C-section. (!) Well, at least he was awake. (And not drinking; he was on call.)

Back to the subject, though. Although the point is to pick up a lot of Chaokoh coconut milk (which is the brand I like best), unusual spices, cool produce, etc, and I always have an actual list in my hand, I also always try to get something I’ve never purchased before. This trip, I picked up frozen peeled fava beans, which I’ve never tried before because Walmart doesn’t carry them, and millet flour because it just sounded interesting. Possibly the weirdest item I got this time: salt cod and a can of akee, because I just thought it would be interesting to try that famous Jamaican dish.

As an aside, let me add that NO MATTER WHAT, you will forget something on your list. In my case, I particularly wanted amchoor powder (powdered green mango), which I have run out of. It was the FIRST item on my list. Yeah, I forgot to get any. Sigh.

I did get pomegranate molasses and Aleppo pepper, though, so that’s something.

Anyway, let me share with you the first thing I did with millet flour:

Millet Shortcakes, based on a recipe from THE SPLENDID GRAIN by Rebecca Wood

1 stick butter
1 C light brown sugar
1/2 C milk — I used coconut milk, because I didn’t have any real milk handy and because I had some coconut milk left over from something else.
2 eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract — I left this out
1 Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest — I left this out, too
1 C millet flour
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C ground almonds — I used ground pecans, because I’m not all that crazy about almonds and anyway I had some ground pecans in the freezer. My uncle has pecan trees, so pecans are much much much cheaper for me.
1/2 tsp kosher salt — I used regular salt because the smaller grains of regular salt disperse more evenly in baked goods than the flatter, larger flakes of kosher salt.

Then the author called for caramelizing fresh plums and using those as a topping, but I used canned sweetened plum puree from our orchard thinned (they are very tart and strong-flavored after cooking them down) with coconut milk.

Okay: Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs and milk. Combine the dry ingredients and stir in. This will make a stiffish dough. Spoon into six large mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Cut warm shortcakes in half horizontally and spoon plum filling over bottom, top with other half of shortcake and spoon over more filling and/or whipped cream.

I thought the texture of these shortcakes might well be too dry and crumbly, what with all that gluten-free millet flour and pecan flour. But no, it was fine. The shortcakes had a soft, pleasant texture and a very nice flavor. I took some to my mother, who also liked them quite a bit. She had them with a raspberry topping.

Now, I know you may not have millet flour handy, but you might try this with all wheat flour or maybe barley flour or whatever. Or, if you’re totally determined, I expect you can find millet flour somewhere. Or you can buy it on Amazon; it’s not very expensive. I got the “Swad” brand from India because that’s what Global Foods offered, but there’s lots of other brands available.

Millet flour is gluten-free but when I checked on that, I also found that it contains goitrogens, which could suppress thyroid activity and leads to goiter. This is perfectly fine and harmless if you eat millet in moderation, but if you’re on the popular gluten-free kick, you may not want to base all your baking on millet. Just thought I’d add that because I know so many people are going gluten-free these days. Personally, I prefer to keep to a highly variable diet that neither cuts anything completely nor is based on anything in particular, but that’s just me. I will certainly make these millet-pecan shortcakes again, and soon, because millet flour goes rancid rather fast and what with all the banana leaves and lamb shoulder chops and veal dumplings and Chinese sausage and gyro meat and so forth that I stocked up on, I don’t have room for flour in the freezer.

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