dark days #20: southern greens and soft red wheat

I was in a Southern greens type of mood, so I thought I’d cook up some fresh collards in a smoked hambone stock for the very last Dark Days winter local cooking challenge.  And it’s good timing, too.  Spring is here!  We’ve been hit by a spring storm with some wild weather all week: sunshine, rain, hail, wind, and then it started all over again.  We managed to get the grill going, however, and Retrogrouch grilled up a couple of Biancalana Pork Growers shoulder chops seasoned with a peppery rub.  Frumento, soft red wheat berries grown by Ayers Creek, were simmered until split and plump with bay leaves and carrot, then turned into a pilaf with local carrots, filberts, onions, and barberries.  Farmer Anthony Boutard has this to say about frumento:

Most varieties of bread wheat have a tough skin and are not particularly flavorful as whole grains for soups, stews and salads. A couple years ago, we purchased a package of frumento from a grocery store in Rome. It was sold as a breakfast cereal. The grain appears to be a soft red winter wheat of some sort. It is very tasty and tender for wheat. It is a true winter variety in that it forms a low growing tuft over the winter, and then shifts its growth pattern in the spring. The heads are large, productive and easy to thresh.

I liked this meal, because I was able to turn the leftovers of two hardy bunches of collards and the smoky, porkulent stock into a wheat berry soup for the next day’s lunch.  A twofer!  It was just what I needed.

Today was the first day of our annual farmer’s market, running now until Christmas.  We’ve turned a corner.  I’ll post the gloriously un-dark day’s pictures later today.  Bright green spring greens, red and pink radishes, garnet beets, orange carrots, creamy white turnips, o my!


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