When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
-Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things
1 cup wheat berries*
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced into half moons
1 cup portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 cup kale, roughly chopped
1 Tbls. chili powder
1 Tbls. cumin powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
Hot pepper flakes, to taste
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup frozen corn (or fresh, if it’s in season near you)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (finely ground)
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
¼ cup plain yogurt (sour cream would work well too)
¾ cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbls. maple syrup
4 Tbls. salted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
In a medium saucepot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Add the wheat berries and cook until al dente, about 2 hours (I like to do this the night before, or on the weekend when I have some extra time). Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
In a large saucepot or dutch oven, sauté the onion in olive oil for five minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for another 5. Add the mushrooms and peppers, cook for 5 more minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted. Stir in the spices. Add one cup of the cooked wheat berries, and the beans, tomatoes, corn, and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and turn down the heat to a simmer. Stir in the corn and simmer for ½ hour to 1 hour.
While the chili cooks, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 6- or 12-cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, making a well in the center. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, milk, egg, and maple syrup, and mix well. Add the yogurt mixture and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir until barely combined. Gently fold in the corn. Divide into the muffin tins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
Adjust the chili seasonings and serve with the cornbread, a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese, and avocado slices.
*Note that this will yield more wheat berries than are required for the recipe. You will only need 1 cup cooked berries for the chili, but because it takes so long to cook them (and because they are so delicious!) I like to make more than necessary and use them throughout the week in other dishes.
**Thanks, as always, to Nate for the photos.