The Grain Lady is a resource for all things grain - in the field and in the kitchen. Listen in as I interview Mona about what a heritage grain is and why it’s important to not only our tastebuds and digestion, but also to our local community and farmers. If you are a home baker or pasta maker, or are interested in becoming one, this episode is for you!
I first heard about The Grain Lady through a friend and have been an avid instagram follower since, so I was really excited when Mona agreed to be interviewed for the podcast. Something that Mona said in the interview that really resinated with me was that we can call these grains many things - heritage or heirloom being a couple of options - but that she likes to call them heirloom grains.
The word heirloom means "a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations" and that's just what these grains are. They are passed down generationally, chosen for desired characteristics like taste.
Mona first started working with heritage - or heirloom - grains in the early 2000's by giving local farmers seeds of heritage varieties for them to grow. It has now expanded to her teaching cooking classes, and co-founding the Colorado Grain Chain which will aim to bring heritage grains to more farmers than just our local Boulder community.
In the interview, we talk about a few different resources for home cooks who want to learn more about using heritage grains in their breads or pastas. Mona mentioned this book by Peter Reinhart and she mentioned this amazing color wheel of grains that she has on her website too. Something that I'd like to add is this Heritage Baking cookbook that Mr. Domestique gave to me for Christmas this year - I have really learned a lot about different grains and farms and I really appreciate that most of the recipes use a sourdough starter
Mockmill was another thing Mona mentioned in the interview, and I found links for both the countertop version and the Kitchen Aid attachment.
She also mentioned the Maine Grain Alliance as a resource for anyone wanting to bring heritage grains to their area. I also think a local Slow Food chapter would be willing to help with that!
I really enjoyed this interview, and I think you will too! Here are some highlights from the episode:
6:35 - Restoring a local grain economy.
8:20 - What is a heritage grain?
12:40 - What is the flavor of heritage wheat?
14:06 - Digestibility of grains & gluten sensitivity.
19:47 - Milling your own grain & the color wheel of grain.
22:57 - What to use to mill your own grains at home.
23:50 - Advice for anyone looking to bring heritage grains to their community.
25:50 - What is the Colorado Grain Chain?
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A note on some of the links used in this post: I think it's always best to support your local community by buying items from a locally-owned store like a hardware store or a local kitchen supply store, but I understand that you can't always find what you need or don't always have time to shop around, so I have included the links above for your convenience, and as an example of the item if you don't know what it is!
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