Saturday, May 31, 2008
Wheat: The Staff of Life
I was asked to be in charge of an exhibit/information table at an emergency preparedness fair today. I don't consider myself an expert in this area, but they asked me to give information about cooking with wheat. In the past few years I have educated myself on this subject, and have attempted to teach groups the things I have learned, so I guess the organizers thought that meant I should oversee this. As I sat with a person who came to help me answer questions, I told her that I felt that neither she nor I were experts, but we know a lot more than most people. Also, although she and I have the skills and knowledge to do some interesting things with wheat, neither of us do it on a regular basis. But we both agreed that it is a good knowledge to have in case we need it. So let me summarize for you what we featured at our booth. For those of you with insomnia, this post should be very useful.
USES FOR WHEAT:
I have been experimenting and have become quite a good whole wheat bread maker lately. In my experimenting, I have found that if I add one cup of cracked wheat to my whole wheat bread dough, it makes a really good whole grained bread. I have learned a few tips, and am able to make nice big beautiful loaves of wheat bread. This skill didn't come easily, as my family can confirm. They ate many loaves of wheat bricks along the way. But you can add a little wheat flour to anything you make and it will add a lot more nutrition. *In recipes that use baking powder, increase by 1 tsp. for every three cups of wheat flour used. *Recipes using baking soda need not be adjusted. *In yeast breads, use more yeast and/or let it rise longer. *In baked products using eggs, separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff. Then fold in just before baking. Extra lightness can be achieved by adding an extra beaten egg white.
I think sprouting is very fun. YOu can sprout numerous kinds of seeds, but make sure you don't use the seeds you would plant in the garden. Those kinds of seeds are treated with chemicals. You should look at a whole foods store for seeds to sprout. Some examples are: wheat, alfalfa, broccoli, beans etc. These sprouts can be put in sandwiches, salads, soups, or even in bread. The easiest way to sprout is the get a mason jar and put a couple of tablespoons of seeds in. Put a piece of breathable fabric over the top...such as gauze or cheesecloth. Rubber band it on. Pour some water in the bottle and swish around. Pour out the water and lay the jar on its side. Do this a few times a day. Within a few days you will see the seeds beginning to sprout.
This is a little more complicated to make, but can be used as a meat substitute. Basically, you make a bread dough and knead it for 10 minutes. Then you put a large bowl in the sink, and place a strainer inside it. Take a small handful of dough and wash it under a tiny trickle of water. As you wash, the bran is washed from the dough. When all the bran is gone, you are left with the gluten. This can then be boiled in broth and seasoning to give it a meat flavor. You can use it in place of meat, or as a meat extender. You can bread it with egg and flour to make cutlets.
Next you can take the bran that washed off and pour most of the water off. Pour a thin layer of the bran in a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with a lip). Bake it at 350 degrees in your oven. You will get bran flakes. I haven't tried this yet, but I believe the flakes can be ground up in a blender to make bran muffins.
4. EASY CEREAL
I learned two techniques for making breakfast cereal from wheat.
A. THERMOS CEREAL
Fill a thermos with hot water to heat it up. Boil some water. Now pour the water from the thermos and put in some wheat kernels. For every one part wheat, pour in 2 parts boiling water. Seal and let cook over night. In the morning you will have hot wheat cereal ready to eat.
B. CROCK POT WHEAT CEREAL
Put one part wheat to two parts water in a crock pot. Add a dash of salt. Cook on low for 8 -10 hours. If you put it in at night, it will be ready to eat when you wake up in the morning. If you only cook a small amount, you should use a small crock pot.
Today as I was giving out samples of this cereal to people who passed, I happened to be eating some yogurt as part of my lunch. It occurred to me that some of those wheat kernels would taste delicious in yogurt. You can eat it like cereal with milk and sugar, or add raisins or other fruit to it. It is a good nutritious breakfast that stays with you.
5. WHEAT GRASS
If you have gone to a juice bar, you have seen that a popular food right now is wheat grass. It doesn't taste very good, but is good for you. Recently I saw a kit at the store for "Cat grass". I bought it and as I opened it up I saw that it was actually wheat grass. I grew it for my cat, and he loves to chew the tops off of the wheat grass. It has a mowing effect, so the wheat grass grows back. YOu could do this yourself, and add it when making juices at home.
6. WHEAT CONVERSIONS
1 cup uncooked wheat = 2 cups cooked wheat, 2 cups whole wheat = 3 cups ground flour
1 lb whole wheat = 2 1/4 cups wheat berries
I guess the thing that I would most want to leave you with is, don't be afraid to try different ways of cooking with wheat. The woman working with me said, "There is something satisfying about cooking with wheat". I'm not sure why that is, but I agree with her.