A couple of months back we marked a delicious anniversary. We’ve been part of the Eatwell Farms CSA for over a year now, and I still open each produce box with the anticipation of a six-year-old on her birthday, feasting my eyes on each item before tossing it to one side in pursuit of the next. There are strawberries to taste, carrots to trim, tomatoes to smell, garlic bulbs to hang, and fresh, pasture grazed eggs to examine.
Our Eatwell box is part of the reason we don’t go to the Ferry Building on Saturday mornings as frequently as I would like–we usually have plenty of produce at home. But another reason is that, well, it’s easy to go a little wild. I’ll often come home with unlikely and unnecessary things like cape gooseberries (just to taste), pounds of cucumbers (for when the current pickles run out), and bags of mixed hot peppers (only $3!). One Saturday recently, I came home with a pound of wheatberries. No, we didn’t really need them, but I’d been reading about them in our Eatwell newsletter for months.
Our farmer, Nigel, started growing wheat a few seasons back when it became difficult to find organic feed for the chickens, and he has recently been offering a limited amount at the market. On this particular Saturday, back when it was still summer, one of Nigel’s sons sat atop the bags of red grain, pouring berries from the scoop enticingly. However, when I asked about the small grinder on display, I learned that a pound of grain might take ten or fifteen minutes to grind. “Or you can soak the wheat in milk overnight and make it into pancakes in the morning.” Really? I forked over my one dollar and tucked my pound of wheat into one of our overflowing canvas bags.
According to Nigel, the pancakes are as easy as switching out the flour in your favorite pancake recipe with wheatberries. At home that evening, I poured one and one half cups wheatberries into the blender, covered them with an equal amount of buttermilk, added the sugar, oil, and vanilla, and left them to soak overnight. In the morning I switched the blender on and briefly puzzled over the damp paste that was developing. Of course, I should have exchanged the flour for wheatberries by weight; unfortunately my aha moment came about 12 hours too late. Here was a blender full of half ground grain in a soupy thick mess of flour, and not enough wheatberries left to start over another day.
Luckily, pancake mix is forgiving. Going by look and feel, I added more liquid, doubled the levening, folded in an extra egg. And, just as Nigel promised, the pancakes turned out beautifully. Several batches later, here, in honor of Eatwell Farm, is my favorite new pancake recipe. The pancakes turn out a wonderful golden brown, and they are surprisingly light.
1 1/2 cups hard red wheat berries
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup low fat milk
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
The night before you make the pancakes, place the wheat, buttermilk, milk, olive oil, sugar, and vanilla in a blender, cover, and allow to soak overnight. In the morning, blend the mixture until mostly smooth. This part may take a little while. I gave my blender a couple of breaks so as not to burn out its motor. The mixture need not be completely smooth. A few small chunks of wheatberry give the pancakes a nice texture. Pour the batter into a mixing bowl and add the eggs, whisking to combine. Sprinkle the salt, baking soda, and baking powder over the batter and stir to combine well. Cook the pancakes immediately and serve hot!
Makes about twelve 8-inch pancakes