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My Grandmother was a tough lady, a farmer’s wife, a cook for many. My Dad told me stories of how many chickens she would cook at once for her six children and many farm hands. There were many things she taught me, not the least of which had to do with feeding others.

Into her 80s and 90s she continued to serve our large family wonderful meals. Oftentimes supper consisted of various sandwich meats and bread, canned fruit and jello, homemade cookies, and quite frequently a piping hot glass baking dish filled with what we called hot dish. She would pull the extra-crunchy peanut butter from the refrigerator, lay out plates and bowls of goodies; and then this petite woman would take a frighteningly large, piping hot dish from the oven and transport it with grace to the table.

One of of these hot dishes – and one that left an impression on my own husband – was calico beans. After she served up my new husband just months after we wed, I asked her for the recipe. It was a simple mixture of beans, a little meat, brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. Tangy and sweet; humble yet satisfying.

I miss her and think of her often, especially when I’m feeding my own brood – stretching what we’ve got from the garden and the pantry.

When mustard greens came from the garden, it seemed natural to pair them with inexpensive beans for a simple lunch. The inspiration was, of course, from my Grandmother and it is now one of our favorite ways to eat a mess ‘o greens.

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Calico Mustard Greens and Beans

Recipe Note: Turnip, mustard, collard, or kale greens are all suitable for this recipe. Also, don’t cook down the liquid too much… it makes for a great dip for breads or splendid slurping from a spoon.

Ingredients

  • 1 pot full of mustard greens (approximately two very large bunches)
  • 3 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cups prepared or leftover beans (black-eyed peas and pinto beans work really well)
  • 1.5 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • a few dashes of cayenne

Directions

  1. Fill a medium Dutch oven with mustard greens, washed, rinsed, and torn into bite-sized pieces. Add the bacon, onion, and about 1/3 cup water. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, season the greens with a pinch of salt, and cover. Simmer the greens, bacon, and onion for at least 45 minutes, checking periodically just to be sure that the liquid doesn’t dry out.
  2. Once the greens are wilted down and made tender and mellow by the long cooking time, stir in the beans, mustard, honey, and cayenne. Simmer, with lid removed, for at least five minutes, longer to cook off any excess liquid.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or cayenne as needed. Serve next to homemade bread or a salad.

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I’ve been on a kind of buckwheat kick for a couple of years now. I like to use buckwheat flour in some of the gluten-free sourdough loaves I created for Cultures for Health. We’ve eaten it in various breakfast recipes including this baked porridge.

So, recently, I sprouted some buckwheat to throw into raw breakfasts with kefir and fruit or to top salads with. Sprouting used to intimidate me but much like sourdough, fermentation, and other traditional food practices; once you try it it really is simple. I’ve been doing it for about six years now because I find it makes things more digestible as it does away with things like enzyme inhibitors.

I’ve shared before how I sprout various grains, seeds, and legumes so I’ll spare you the full tutorial. As with most things, I don’t normally usually do it the same way twice. Sprouting has a couple of basic principles – soak, rinse, repeat – that can be modified to meet your kitchen schedule and still give excellent results.

So I just throw one pound of the raw buckwheat groats into a 1/2 gallon jar and cover them with water until the jar is filled to about the six cup mark. I now let it sit overnight or for about 12 hours.

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At this point the groats have swollen up and the liquid surrounding them is quite slimy as it has taken on some of the starches and other elements of the grain. You’ll want to rinse the buckwheat groats at this point. I like to pour them into a sieve and then rinse them until the water runs clear and the sliminess has gone down.

I now put them back in the jar and let them sit with a cloth covering the opening so they get some air. This goes on for about 3-6 hours or until I remember to pour some more water on the little guys. Then I’ll leave them in water for another 3-6 hours, rinse, and repeat. None of this is set in stone but you do want to be checking on them at various stages of rinsing, airing, and soaking to make sure they aren’t either drying out or fermenting (not that I really worry about that kind of thing).

After 2-3 days of this cycle, they generally start presenting tiny little tails. Once the tails just begin to emerge I give them about 12 more hours in the sprouting cycle before drying them.

IMG_6479You can eat them at this sprouted stage while still wet. A sprouted buckwheat porridge is a good use for them as is sprinkling them into a salad. I also like to dehydrate them to use in homemade seed cereal or energy-type bars.

In our dry climate I simply spread them out on a couple of sheet pans or plates and cover them with a thin towel. They’ll be dry in 12-24 hours and can then be stored in an airtight container for several weeks. Ours don’t usually last that long.

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One certain little man found a bag of my raw buckwheat groats and decided to claim them as his own and do his own sprouting experiment. Homegrown buckwheat from “the buckwheat patch”? Why not.