Whilst on that farm in Byron Bay, I was shown the Amaranth flowers. It is a grain that is not a regular part of my family’s diet, so I took many photos of the flowers, fascinated in how easily it seemed to grow and took some home. Maybe I could grow some in my own garden and I imagined it growing around the veggie patch, providing shade and colour. But, I just wanted to keep feeling quiet, I did not want to create a new project, so I decided to use the grains I had to cook with. Not only did I use what was there, but I also bought some at a local health food store to compare. I feel a sense of relief in this decision not to go pour energy into growing my own, instead, I got to explore the amaranth from another angle.
The grain from the plant was much sweeter and appealing than that I purchased. As I did research, I learned that it can be prepared in many different ways, utilised as many grains are as an alternative to pasta or rice, in salads or in baking. But, I became fascinated by the Mexican sweet Alegrias, that use amaranth. The nutty grains tasty in caramelised sugar sweets. Other similar sweets came to mind, Peanut Brittle from the UK, Praline from France, Pastelli from Greece, Chikki from India, Australian Sesame Snaps. All using local seeds and nuts, and whatever local sweetness is around (sugar, sugar syrup, sugar cane, cane sugar, honey…). My own version that I made had some popped amaranth and fresh amaranth with nuts for texture. I used both honey and a little bit of raw sugar.
The result was really special. Saturday afternoon slowed down as everyone passing through the house (both residents and visitors) paused to eat and chat over a hot drink. A plate was sent to contribute to an afternoon birthday gathering. I was beginning to taste the joy of slowing down. It is that afternoon that I want to capture. Not the start of a new project, just an indulgence of my curiosity about the grain amaranth, and the satisfaction of making something completely new. What I want is the joy that comes from just slowing down and bathing in what is right in front of me.
150g raw sugar
2/3 cup of amaranth
2/3 cup nuts
1. Oil a tray and set to the side, I have a brownie tin that was perfect.
2. I used half fresh amaranth and half toasted (I put the store bought amaranth in the pan and heated it until it popped like pop corn)
3. Toast the nuts in an oven
4. Heat the honey and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture darkens slightly.
5. Stir the amaranth and nuts through the honey mixture and pour immediately into the oiled tray.
6. Allow to cool slightly and cut into squares.
7. When completely cool, turn out onto the bench and serve. They can be kept in a airtight container for over a week, mine did not last very long.