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Late Summer at Anson Mills

August 2014

Benne in flower

The Stoner Issue

The recipes in this issue erupt straight out of a college-dorm food binge. When I saw the lineup I said, “What the hell is this, our stoner issue?” It stuck. It had to. The idea is hilarious. It’s not just that chefs are inclined to pass a blunt from time to time—the ingredients in this issue connect stoners, chefs, cooks, and farmers. Follow us and you’ll get high, too.

After nearly a decade and a half growing benne as a rice rotation crop, we introduce it as a bonafide Anson Mills ingredient—fabulous, just-harvested Sea Island benne seeds. Benne is the flavorful, verdant, nutty African field heirloom brought to the Carolina lowcountry by slaves in the late 17th century. And though related, benne is not your average musty sesame seeds from the bottom of the bulk bin at the co-op.

If benne is the rotation crop required to grow great Carolina Gold rice, what rotation crop grows great benne? The answer is hemp. Yah, mon! Hemp is a fixer, and we don’t mean the dude that cleans up a cop-show drug-deal scene gone south. Hemp “fixes” in companion cropping and rotations, working magic below the soil surface, making everything that grows with it and after it in rotations—especially benne—healthier, greener, tastier, and more vigorous. We get high just watching it work. When hemp works on benne and other crops in the same field, the result is called “green-up.” Amazing! And now a powerful idea for you and our farmer friends, this hemp-benne connection proves that nature is the best farmer. We wish everyone farmed this way. To close the circle, we issue a warning, with sadness, to our favorite chef stoners out there who might be planning a tour of Anson Mills farms: You can smoke an acre of heirloom rotation hemp, but you won’t get buzzed.


Heirloom Rotation Hemp by Forrest Clonts

Bennecake and Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hungry yet? Try a little plug of raw dough or bake these Chocolate Chip Cookies straight away: dark sugar richness pulls you in with the deep flavors of browned butter, new crop wheat nuttiness, melting chocolate, and a seductive give of crisp texture fusion. Think you hit nirvana? You’re just hearing them. Here’s our nirvana: Bennecake and Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies! Game over. Mind blown.

Benne and Sorghum Caramels

If we had cookies for dinner, what’s for dessert? Benne and Sorghum Caramels. Can’t stop? Have another. We worked on this recipe for months. You won’t believe how benne and sorghum flavors explode in your mouth when all their polychromatic sensations rocket off your taste buds. Think about farming when you’re sick with candy excess after digging into these caramels: sorghum, like benne and hemp, is a rotation crop.

Chilled Sesame Noodles

Wait, what was the first course supposed to be? Did we just have dessert? Oh, right, Sesame Noodles! Late summer—or anytime. Noodles handmade from Anson Mills ‘00’ Pasta Flour, dressed with a sauce made of real, fresh live new crop toasted Sea Island Benne Seeds. And should we . . . ? Of course we should! Toss our Sesame Noodles with a lovely chilled marinated salad! Wait, something is still missing. How about gilding the noodles with an elegant Three-Peppercorn Asian Chile Oil that makes you see stars. Perfect! This chile oil lofts any dish from great to memorable.

Popcorn Grits

Hell of a first course, right? But after the candy and cookies, we’re starving. What’s for dinner? Popcorn? That’s not dinner! Wait, we’re drowning the popcorn? WTF? Popcorn Grits? Yum! Native Americans invented this dish, which has lately become a small trend. But it becomes world class with Anson Mills Appalachian Heirloom Sweet Flint Popping Corn—all those wildflower nuances against firm minerality and bold, sweet, and toasted corn flavors. This dish is so simple even our Chihuahua can cook it.

Okra with Tomato Gravy

Hey, what’s that on the back burner? Little okra pods, steamed crisp to bright green. And in the pot? Tomato Gravy. Zounds! This is terrific! Tomato gravy goes with anything. Tomato gravy is pure Southern. Put some on our popcorn grits, please, with the okra. We can see flavors and taste nirvana.

So here’s to hemp and benne, y’all, and Good Food!