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Eat more barley ( … and sugar cake)

Barley risotto

I sometimes hear the voice of Michael Pollan in my head: “Eat more leaves.” To that I might add: Eat more barley.

Wheat, of course, will always be regarded as the monarch of grains, because we can make beautiful breads out of it. But for second place, I would nominate barley — humble, healthy, sustainable, and versatile (after all, you can make ale and whisky out of it.)

Pearled barley is much easier to find, but pearled barley is not really a whole grain. Hulled barley is the real article. If you cook hulled barley thoroughly, it’s just as good as pearled barley, and healthier. I was thinking, as I had this barley risotto, that, even though I like the chewy texture of barley, if barley risotto spent a few seconds in a food processor, you’d almost think it was a hearty form of mashed potatoes. It’s a comfort food, for sure.

Before Covid-19, it was easy to find hulled barley, in bulk, at Whole Foods. At least in the Whole Foods store that I shop, the bulk foods section has been greatly diminished for safety reasons. My last batch of hulled barley was ordered from Amazon. It’s organic, and it was grown in western North Carolina.

This afternoon my nearest neighbor appeared on his ATV bringing a box of Moravian sugar cake from Dewey’s bakery in Winston-Salem, to thank me, he said, for being such a good neighbor. To those who live in or near Winston-Salem, Moravian sugar cake is a holiday treat. It’s made here year round, though. Winkler Bakery in Old Salem, which still bakes in colonial-style wood-fired ovens, makes the best version. (Winkler Bakery is currently closed because of Covid-19.) The recipe and concept, no doubt, were brought here 250 years ago by German settlers. Dewey’s makes a close approximation of the colonial article. Those in this area will know about Old Salem. To those who live elsewhere, Old Salem is a restored colonial town much like Williamsburg in Virginia. (I was shocked to see all the corporate logos on Old Salem’s home page. Times must be hard for them.)


  1. Jo wrote:

    You must indeed be a good neighbor to receive Moravian Sugar Cake. And, a good neighbor it is, to bring you one. It is one of my absolute favorites. I have a recipe for this cake, but just does not taste quite the same as the ones from Dewey’s Bakery. The line there often stretches out the door – and beyond around holidays. Would love to try the one from Winkler Bakery.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Jo wrote:

    I happened to read an article last night about the amount of information gleaned from users of iPads, iPhones, etc. without our knowledge. I mentioned Dewey’s Bakery in my comment on your post. Today, for the first time ever, an ad for Dewey’s popped up on Facebook.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Hi, Jo: Google Analytics probably did that. What often happens to me is that I look at items on Amazon, then see ads for similar items on Facebook. I even run Facebook in a separate browser to keep it from snooping, so my guess is that Amazon and Facebook exchange data.

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 5:42 am | Permalink
  4. Jo wrote:

    Thanks, David, for this information. I have since received two e-mails from Dewey’s Bakery. Of course, can unsubscribe from them.

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  5. daltoni wrote:

    You got emails from Dewey’s?? That is truly strange and scary. Though Google Analytics might certainly track you virtually everywhere including here, WordPress does not — or should not — reveal anyone’s email address, though some WordPress plugins (which I have never used) have been reported as problems in the past. I will do a security checkup.

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  6. daltoni wrote:

    Jo: Quick question: Are you normally signed into either Google or Yahoo (for example, for email) when you are browsing the web?

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Jo wrote:

    I would say yes to both. My e-mail account is through Yahoo and I probably use Google more than I realize.

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

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