Wheat. The idea of enjoying this foundational whole grain in as “whole” of a way as possible has appealed to me recently. So much attention is given to its fancier counterparts these days; farro, quinoa, barley, amaranth. While all these wonderful grains deserve a place in our diet, I have been interested in the classic version. When I think of wheat my mind conjures up ideas of midwestern fields, wispy wheat grass blowing in the wind, farmhouses, tall silos and mill stones. Flour dusted aprons, the smell of freshly baked bread, rounds and rectangles lined up on a bakery shelf. I love to bake, and I love to try to find new ways in incorporate whole eating into my family’s diet where I can.
My curiosity about local sources for whole wheat products, in particular flour, sent me in a few different directions. What I have learned is that this piece of the local, sustainable version of the food pyramid has been slow to catch on; but it is getting there. California used to be a large producer of wheat, but over time more lucrative crops took over. Now, the necessary farmland and infrastructure needed to harvest and mill wheat is not something California has in place. However, small movements are taking hold and the benefit, both for health and flavor, of heirloom wheat varieties is becoming more known. Community Grains, a local grain company started by Oliveto owner Bob Klein, is reviving heirloom grain varieties on a local level. I have been given the opportunity to bake and create some whole wheat goodness with some amazing sample products not yet on the market, more to come on that in the coming days.
So while the foodie in me continues to delve into the interesting world of heirloom grains, home milling, and the like, I thought I would share some interesting tidbits from around the web that may pique your interest too.
I have recently become obsessed with the whole grain pancakes at Rick & Ann’s. Community Grains has clued me in to the fact that their Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes are amazing. Looks like we are having pancakes this weekend. Be sure to play around on their recipe index, yum.
I have recently been reading sections of the book Nourishing Traditions, and I am sold on the idea of sprouted grains and the health benefits that come with them. The recipe for sprouted whole wheat bread on Nourished Kitchen looks like something I might try.
Front Porch Farm ripped out 55 acres of prime Sonoma vineyard to plant wheat…will wheat become the next wine of our region?
What is a wheat berry? It is the whole wheat kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. When looking at wheat berry salad recipes online, this one by Ellie Krieger has top notch reviews.
The Cornucopia Institute did an amazing article about the future of heirloom wheat in our food culture. While it is a long read, it is interesting and the authors comment about her experience with a quality whole wheat pasta and its favor being “…an essential element of the dish, not just a delivery system for the sauce” has me intrigued to try some whole wheat pasta combinations with simple sauces. One of my favorites is this tomato sauce with onion and butter. Or possibly this simple mushroom cream sauce? You can’t go wrong with the simplicity of browned butter with sage, a bit of lemon, and Parmesan-Reggiano cheese.
After reading this article, I am curious about Einkorn Wheat, the worlds most ancient wheat that may even be a solution to those with gluten sensitivity. I may have to try to find some and test out these soft and chewy einkorn ginger cookies.
The blog 100 days of real food has a whole wheat banana nut muffin, and a standard version that is a blank slate to add your favorite fruits or nuts to make it your own. I like that both also leave out refined sugar.
I thought this was a pretty good article about the standard types of wheat you can buy for milling your own flour at home. I thought the information about the LDS home storage centers was interesting. She has another great post about wheat grinders, which has me drooling over the beautiful wooden Komo grinder. Oh, to have endless counter space and extra dough in the bank. No pun intended.
By the way, what is “cracked wheat”? According to this SF Gate article, it is the entire wheat berry, simply cracked into a few smaller pieces. You can buy bags of it by Bob’s Red Mill, and apparently cook it in a similar way to oatmeal.
And just because I can never resist a few fun additions from Etsy:
Oh Man, now I am going to want to buy these. How sweet are these vintage juice glasses with adorable pink wheat on them???
You can join the adult coloring craze and color in your own wheat!
I thought this was a lovely image from times far gone…it would be nice to have wheat fields to gaze upon while picnicking with friends :o)
Top row (left to right): Wheat – AgriLife Today via flickr / Grain Mill (with edits) – Tyler Neu via flickr / Pillsbury’s Best (with edits) – Cam Miller via flickr / Dillard Mill (with edits) – Keith Yahl via flickr / Old Grain Mill (with edits) – jwhit612 via flickr
Middle row (left to right): Old Flour (with edits) – Henry Bush via flickr / Wheat (with edits) – ep_jhu via flickr / Wheat – Lesley via flickr / Grain Mill (with edits) – Photoguyinmo Swatzell via flickr / Wheat – Dace Kirspile via flickr
Bottom Row (left to right): Wheat – Maria Keays via flickr / Fresh Bread (with edits) – Annelieke B via flickr / flour (with edits) – Jen R via flickr / gold medal (with edits) – paula soler-moya via flickr