Kuzu -- the new EVOO?

I'm not even a real vegetarian, much less an adherent to a macrobiotic diet. But, as I aim for lower-impact eating, I've perused some macrobiotic books and web sites, on the lookout for new food ideas and recipes. From his "Maine author bookshelf," Jeff earthed up The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics, written a few years ago by former Portlander (and Portland Phoenix scribe) Jessica Porter. The book is an accessible and fun take on macrobiotic eating; one that explores the philosophy of food while providing some great recipes.

Now, Porter's trying out a new way to get the macrobiotic word to the masses: live-streaming cooking classes, broadcast once a week from her Hip Chick web site. For the moderate cost of $25, viewers get an hour and half of something very much like Porter's book -- casual instruction on seriously healthy food, with a sizeable dose of Porter's high spirits for good measure.

I tuned in at 8 p.m. last night for the course on cooking grains. From her home kitchen, and after a rambling opening monologue about her macro-slip-ups last week (a piece of pizza and some coffee -- if she'd only known that I was sipping beer and eating chips while I watched!),  Porter gave me and 11 other viewers (who hailed from all over Canada and the US) a crash course on barley, brown rice, millet, and other whole grains.

She cooked three tasty-looking dishes: simple pressure-cooked short-grain brown rice (a good meal for winter, we learned; short grain brown rice packs a more concentrated energy punch than long-grain, which is better suited for spring/summer meals), a barley salad with olives, pine nuts, dressing, and capers -- well, the capers were supposed to be there, but charmingly, she'd forgotten to buy them -- and my favorite, millet "mashed potatoes" with cauliflower. I've actually made this before, and it is amazing. Millet is soft, kind of like polenta, and when you blend it together with cooked cauliflower, the texture is comforting and delish. She topped hers with a shitake mushroom gravy, as she does in her book, which I can't wait to try.

Throughout, us online viewers were able to type questions into a chat screen, and on Porter's end, an off-screen computer-manner would read them aloud, for Porter to answer. The interactiveness was cool, and it could be even-better utilized -- I mean, how many times have I wanted to ask Rachael Ray about possible substitutions, or to repeat something, or whatever?

Next up, next Wednesday, is a segment on cooking beans. I've never had much luck with beans that don't come from a can, so this could be helpful. Cheers to Porter for harnessing the Internets to a healthy end!

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