“It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the car”
Comments like that get you thinking, and the more time you spend in the desert the further those thoughts progress. Traditional peoples certainly used the sun and blast air-drying capabilities of the desert to their advantage, so why not us? Or, so the thoughts go….and being both of engineering background, the analytical mind starts to work on the problem.
And that is how the experiment started.
Since we hadn’t quite gotten to the point of donning loin-cloths and hunting for snakes (maybe the topic of a future post, we’ll see…), a more moderate, entry-level-type experiment seemed appropriate. So, with the help of some primitive google-work and a few chants to the rum & coke Gods we found our target. It was traditional (ancient in fact), used the sun, and required several days to complete, perfect for our leisurely lifestyle whilst still allowing adequate picture-taking and results analysis. Which is how we got started on making manna bread, or the “bread of heavens”
Here is the description for making Manna (or Essene) bread, dating back to a 1st century Aramaic script. I’ll translate for clarity:
“’Let the angels of God prepare your bread”
Editors note/ A nice start…sounds easy so far, but there’s more:
“Moisten your wheat, that the angel of water may enter it. Then set it in the air, that the angel of air may also embrace it. And leave it from morning to evening beneath the sun, that the angel of sunshine may descend upon it. And the blessing of the three angels will soon make the germ of life to sprout in your wheat. Then crush your grain, and make thin wafers, as did your forefathers when they departed out of Egypt, the house of bondage. Put them back again beneath the sun from its appearing, and when it is risen to its highest in the heavens, turn them over on the other side that they be embraced there also by the angel of sunshine, and leave them there until the sun be set.”
Not to be put out and feeling quite spiritual about the whole process, we started on our quest for the perfect bread. For expedience, we decided to skip growing the berries ourselves and picked-up 2 cups of organic Kamut seeds from the store. Using a bowl and colander we rigged up a neo-primitive sprouting container and got stated. Here’s the steps:
- Soak – Soak the seeds in cool water overnight (this would be the first angel step)
- Drain & Air – Drain the seeds into the colander and set aside (2nd angel step). Every 8-12 hours rinse the seeds in cold water and drain (they don’t mention this in the Aramaic script, but it’s a handy little adjustment that keeps the seeds moist and more prone to sprouting). Give it a few days.
- Sprouts – Wait for little sprouts to appear (blessing complete). It’s up to you how long you want these sprouts. Traditionally you wait until they’ve grown to ~the length of the original seed.
- Grind – Grind the sprouted seeds with a tablespoon of oil, a touch of water and a dash of salt. In a slight departure from traditional methods we used a food processor for this step.
- Form – Form the “dough” into a bread-like shape and leave outside in the sun to harden.
As it turned out Pheonix went into a “cold spell” with temperatures plummeting to (gasp!) just 80˚F (about 26 ˚C) as we were about to bake our bread. We left the loaf out for a day, but didn’t get full baking, so it was into the oven at 250˚F for 2 hours. That did the job and our heavenly bread emerged with angels singing.
Our first foray into traditional foods…maybe more to come