I’m not sure how I first heard about North Country Grains. But I do know that seeing the word ‘kutia’ on a little bag got my attention.
Kutia is the first of 12 traditional dishes served on Ukrainian Christmas Eve, also known as Svyata Vecherya. It’s a combination of wheatberry, poppyseed, honey and walnuts that carries plenty of symbolism. The dish is seldom served at other times of the year. In the past, making it meant hunting around for pearled wheat. Finding it wasn’t easy. I had the most luck in small stores in Ukrainian communities that brought in stock for the occasion. In fact, I hadn’t even heard the term ‘wheatberry’ until recently.
But thanks to North Country Grains, we now have access to the key ingredient of kutia. As a bonus, it’s organic.
North Country Grains is a family farm near Swan River, Manitoba. Ryan and Amy Hofford sowed their first organic grain crop in 2009. In 2012, Amy began processing grain in the farmyard and selling the milled product. This allowed her to stay at home with the new addition to the family—daughter Aubree. Word spread quickly about the whole-grain, stone-ground organic flour being sold at the Swan Valley Farmers’ Market. The line now includes Bear Bread Mix, Fish Crisp Mix, Wing Batter Mix, Waffle & Pancake Mix and of course, Ukrainian Kutia.
All the products are free from additives, pesticides, bleaching agents and dough conditioners commonly found in commercial flours. And because these are whole grains, you’re getting all the benefits the grain has to offer including fibre, B vitamins and trace minerals in the bran as well as protein, essential oils, vitamin E, vitamin B and phytonutrients in the germ.
I’m working my way through the product line. The Ukrainian Kutia is a hit. I’m lobbying for kutia to become the new granola. It’s packed with nutrition and tastes delicious. And I think it’s time we started eating it more than once a year.
The Waffle & Pancake Mix is also delicious. The whole grain adds a pronounced crunch to breakfast. Serve a stack with berries and some Manitoba birch syrup for a decadent treat.
The Beer Bread bakes up unto a dense and delicious loaf that’s perfect for snacks during movie night. Simply add a good mustard (may we recommend Smak Dab) and a hunk of kubassa and watch it disappear.
I’m looking forward to trying the original product—the whole grain flour—for some bread experiments. Stay tuned for those.
North Country Grains line of products in available at select stores including Ace Hardware in Swan River, Woodfire Deli in Souris and Angusville General Store in Angusville. They’re also available online.