13 September 2009

New York Wheat

They say that the Northeast used to be the breadbasket of the country. Indeed, Albany’s city seal incorporates two sheaves of wheat.

The city was chartered in at was in 1686. In the more than 300 years since then, the nation’s breadbasket has moved west to the Great Plains.

When I first did the 100-mile diet, in 2007, I found some locally milled flour. I suspected that the wheat coming to the mill probably traveled hundreds of miles on a truck. (I never called to ask, because part of me didn’t want to know!) It was the best I could do – and it would have to do. I didn’t want to go for a month without bread or pasta.

Last year, during my month of local eating, I read about some New Yorkers growing and milling flour. I finally made my pilgrimage to the Wild Hive Farm this summer, about two hours south of us in the Hudson Valley. We ate lunch in their cafe and I came home with three bags of truly local flour.

Last week I made a couple rustic-style loaves with the all-purpose flour. Owner Don Lewis had warned me that I should add my liquids gradually until I had the right consistency – that the home-brown grains vary more than mass-produced flours in terms of how they’ll behave. They’ll also differ in taste.

I forgot the advice, so my rather wet loaves ending up growing sideways more than rising up. But they were delicious -- with honey drizzled on top or with cheese, tomato, and basil.


Ithaca's Food Web said...

Yum! That sounds great, Jill. I just learned that we have locally grown and milled wheat and dried beans here int he Finger Lakes, thanks to Cayuga Pure Organics http://www.cporganics.com/live/ . And, I was just at the Ithaca History Center and saw a note about NYS being the bread basket - I had no idea!

Isabelle said...

That sounds so delicious! It seems as if year by year a bit more is becoming available--it's a nice trend to see.