What to do with: December 2020 Essentials

What to do with: December 2020 Essentials

Ben @ Ben to Table

We’re closing out 2020 with a couple of old favorites, a new-to-us heirloom bean from Rancho Gordo, and the right and proper ingredients for delicious Hoppin John for New Years. Plus a bag of tasty chocolates everyone can enjoy.

Here's what's in the box:

Carolina Gold Rice (Marsh Hen Mill/Geechie Boy Mill)
Sea Island Red Peas ((Marsh Hen Mill/Geechie Boy Mill)
Heritage Organic Red Fife Wheat Flour (Maine Grains)
Organic Spelt Orzo (Agrozimi) 
Buckeye Beans (Rancho Gordo)
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds (Fruition)

And, of course, you can refer to my general "How to Cook: Beans" post for the Buckeye Beans (and the Red Peas, though those will cook faster).

Carolina Gold Rice (Marsh Hen Mill/Geechie Boy Mill)

 CG Rice

This wonderful rice has also shown up a couple of times this year, and you’ll probably see it in 2021, as well – and with good reason. It’s one of the most flavorful rices around, and helps to bring back production that’s been largely lost in the era of industrial rice growing.

You can just cook it according to the instructions on the bag. The traditional style is to cook it in more liquid then needed, drain it off when almost done, and then allow it to "steam" the rest of the way -- either in the pot, or, as instructed on the bag, in the oven.

It’s also a key part of the basis for Hoppin John, a traditional bean and rice (and bacon/ham) dish from the Carolina coast, especially served around New Years. 

Here's a recipe for it that also dives into a fascinating amount of the historical context, from Serious Eats.

I also quite enjoy this recipe for Hoppin John veggie burgers from Anson Mills.

Sea Island Red Peas ((Marsh Hen Mill/Geechie Boy Mill)

Sea Island Red Peas

Another heirloom ingredient from the Carolina coast, these legumes are also known as field peas or cow peas. You can cook them up in any variety of dishes, but most traditionally they’re paired with Carolina Gold Rice (see above) and bacon to form the New Year’s Dish: Hoppin John.

You’ll find some Hoppin John recipes that call for black eyed peas, which can also work, but that’s mostly a relic of industrialization, and of proper red peas like this not being widely available. If you’ve had this dish made with supermarket ingredients before, you’ll be in for a real treat with the depth of flavor you can get from doing it right.

Check out the links above for that. You can also use them as a pot bean (pea) with broth, or for soup!

Also, a note: Geechie Boy Mill is in the process of changing their name and branding to Marsh Hen Mill.

Heritage Organic Red Fife Wheat Flour (Maine Grains)

Heritage Red Fife Wheat Flour

We first included this in our Essentials back in April – at the very height of the pandemic baking boom – and thought it’d be a great time for a return for all your holiday baking.

Sweet and nutty tasting, this heritage grain has a lovely coloring and smells great. Use in breads, pastries, biscuits, and crusts. We made some great holiday sugar cookies with this last week.

If you'll be bread baking, here are the stats from Maine Grains:

Moisture: 13.0%
Protein: 13.6%
Falling Number: >250

Organic Spelt Orzo (Agrozimi) 

Organic Spelt Orzo

Another favorite from earlier this year, orzo (kritharaki in Greek) is a classic Greek pasta. This version is bronze-die cut and made from spelt flour. Perfect for warming saucy or soupy preparations or as the base of a pasta salad.

If it will be in a soupy/saucy preparation, try to cook it in the sauce itself, so you keep all that starchy goodness.

I particularly love Orzo in an Avgolemono soup

Buckeye Beans (Rancho Gordo)

Buckeye Bean

A beautiful bean, Buckeyes are small and dense yet creamy and velvety, holding its shape while providing a lovely broth and flavor.

According to Rancho Gordo, it’s thought to be originally from Montana, though it’s hard to know for sure. Simply bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes and then simmer until done with broth and aromatics of your choice.

Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds (Fruition)

 Fruition Chocolate Covered Almonds

This is a tasty bag of toasted almonds covered in 68% dark chocolate (Dominican origin) and then dusted with smoked sea salt. What’s not to like?

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