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Wheat for Man

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 12, 2008

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life … All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground – Nevertheless, wheat for man.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:14, 16-17

Mormons have had a love affair with wheat since at least our earliest years in the western deserts, when grain crops were defended from winds, sands and crickets, used prudently, and stored against a day of future need.

Few of us store a lot of wheat these days. It isn’t convenient – more of us live without basements or other large-scale storage space. It isn’t cool – we snicker at our parents’ generation and the garbage cans filled with wheat older than we are. We don’t like the few ways we know to fix it – cracked wheat cereal is gluey and whole wheat bread irritates our colons. It doesn’t seem practical – why not store Froot Loops and spaghetti sauce and the other ready-to-eat foods our kids are already comfortable with?

For all these seem like modern conditions, they go back to the end of World War II, with the inauguration of convenient packaged foods and the flight of so many of our grandparents from the farms to the cities. By 1952, a trio of Relief Society sisters – Vernice G. Rosenvall, Mabel H. Miller (my great aunt, and daughter of this woman) and Dora D. Flack – of Salt Lake’s Pioneer Stake, realized that Mormon women seldom baked with wheat anymore. They compiled and published an enormously successful cookbook to encourage the storage and use of wheat among Latter-day Saints.

Their cookbook, Wheat for Man … Why and How talked about the parts of a wheat kernel and how each part affects cooked or baked goods. They discussed the nutritional elements of grain, and tips for storing wheat. Mostly, though, they presented recipes using whole wheat flour – tested and retested and served at ward gatherings – that used whole wheat flour for things people really wanted to eat. Cakes. Cookies. Puddings. Nut breads.

Below are a few recipes from their cookbook that can be made with the whole wheat flour stocked by your local grocery store. Try one. You might change your mind about storing a little wheat, or at least not dread the thought of actually having to use some that you’ve already stored.

Important note: Sift the flour before measuring it, or else you’ll get too much and won’t like the result.

Cherry Nut Bread

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
8-oz. bottle maraschino cherries, drained well and cut into fourths
3 cups sifted whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnut meats, chopped

Cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs, and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients, and add alternately with milk to first mixture. Stir in cherries. Add nuts. Pour into one large or two small loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.

Whole Wheat Macaroons

3/4 cup shortening
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3 to 4 tbsp. milk
1-1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups oatmeal
1 to 1-1/2 cups shredded coconut

Cream shortening and sugar. Add vanilla, then eggs and beat thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk. Stir in oatmeal and coconut. Drop by teaspoonsful on greased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes at 350 to 375, or until delicately brown. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe may be varied by using 1 cup chocolate chips or 1 cup nuts or 1 cup raisins instead of coconut. When substituting any of these, use 1-3/4 cups flour instead of 1-1/2 cups.

Soft Molasses Ginger Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 cups sifted whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup coconut

Cream together sugar and shortening. Add eggs and molasses. Sift all dry ingredients together twice and add alternately with milk to above mixture. Add coconut. Drop on greased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes at 350 to 375.

Carrot Cookies

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked mashed carrots
2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream sugar and margarine. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat well and add mashed carrots. Sift dry ingredients together twice and stir in. Add nuts. Drop with a teaspoon onto grease4d cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 to 375 for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool and frost with following frosting:

1-3/4 to 2 cups shifted powdered sugar
2 to 3 tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. orange rind

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

1/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
1 cup sour cream (canned milk may be soured with 1 tbsp. vinegar)
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
2 squares melted baking chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. soda
3 tbsp. boiling water
2 beaten egg whites

Cream shortening, sugar, salt and egg yolks. Add sour cream alternately with sifted flour and baking powder. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add soda dissolved in boiling water and beat. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into two layer cake pans and bake 20 minutes at 350 to 375. This cake may also be baked in 8″x12″ pan for 35-45 minutes.



32 Comments »

  1. Wheat, huh? I have to agree I have objected whenever my wife has suggested we add wheat to our food storage. Store what you eat! Right? These recipes look really good though.
    I think I have related this story before. As a child I once complained about having to eat oatmeal for breakfast because in the Word of Wisdom wheat is for horses. My mother cheerfully switched to cream of wheat and I had to beg her to go back to oatmeal. I love oatmeal to this day.

    Comment by BruceC — November 12, 2008 @ 8:53 am

  2. First…

    Cracked wheat gluey?

    How do you cook it?

    Cracked wheat is the simplest and healthiest of breakfasts. It’s super easy. Before bed, boil 3 cups of water with 1/4 tsp salt. When the water’s boiling, add 1 cup of cracked wheat. Put the lid on the pot and remove it from the heat. Let sit overnight. In the morning, scoop some in a bowl and warm in the microwave. Add honey, and eat, and you won’t be hungry for a long time. (Four servings.)

    Second…

    The great secret of using wheat in cooking: buy and use white wheat rather than red. It has a milder taste and is easier to digest. I use straight white wheat in chocolate chip cookies and quick breads (pumpkin, banana) and no one knows the difference as long as it’s ground fine enough. I use 2 cups of white flour to 4 cups of white wheat in my bread and it’s light and has a lovely taste.

    I’m going to have to sit on my hands and try to avoid writing another wheat-use cookbook here!

    Comment by Researcher — November 12, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  3. Bruce, get brave and try one of these (in person, or by proxy through begging your wife). All it takes is a five pound sack of whole wheat flour from the grocer — no need to invest in large amounts of wheat to grind yourself, until you’re convinced.

    Researcher, yours is one of the ways my mother fixed cracked wheat cereal, which I do like. Ymm! There’s another way, though, common to the last generation, that steams the cracked wheat in the top of a double boiler. That gives a completely different texture and can be quite gluey. If that’s the only version someone has had, I don’t blame them for not liking it. But your way, that’s GOOD!

    I haven’t ever stored wheat except for taking some of my parents’ store with me when I left home. Back then, it was all Turkey red hard winter wheat. I’ve heard good things about white wheat more recently, though.

    Please take your hands out from under you and place them on the keyboard and start typing. As many comments as you want. With more people recognizing the value of having a little food stored for emergency, anything you wrote that convinced even one person to try wheat would be a good thing.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 9:20 am

  4. If you’re not prepared to crack your own wheat, then the only solution (other than having whole wheat for breakfast–more later on that) is to go Canadian–they sell two cracked wheat cereals: Red River or Sunny Boy, which are mostly cracked wheat but also have some flaxseed and other things to liven it up. Have your Canadian friends bring you a shipment the next time they make the big trip south–should be soon, because February’s coming.

    My dad, who has eaten “mush” almost every morning for breakfast for his entire life, has progressed from Malt O’Meal (that’s what I grew up on, and look how good I turned out) to cracked wheat to whole wheat. He puts a bunch of wheat in the crock pot, cooks it with water and salt for a long time (note that I have no idea how much of each, or how long the crock pot takes–just don’t plan to do this in the morning while waiting for breakfast) and then puts the pot in the refrigerator. Then, he has breakfast for a week or so–just scoop out the right amount, zap it, add fruit, nuts, milk.

    My suggestion: add cream. A tablespoon of cream turns a bowl of Red River cereal into a gourmet dish. Well, sort of. Skim milk is for pigs and kittens.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 12, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  5. My mom actually just threw whole-kernal wheat in a crock pot and cooked it over night. We ate it in the morning with milk sugar. Lots of sugar. I have often wondered if the amount of sugar you have to put on wheat cereal to make it palatable offsets the health benefits of the wheat! I like cracked (or non) wheat cereal, though.

    Can’t quite get my mind around whole wheat macaroons.

    Comment by Martin Willey — November 12, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  6. Sorry Ardis add me to the modern convenience types. I have ground wheat occasionally and I do not even like whole wheat from the store.

    Comment by Jon W. — November 12, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  7. Try ‘em, Martin. Trust me, just this once. You wouldn’t know they were whole wheat. (Notice that these recipes tend to have other distinctive flavors — coconut, walnuts, cherries — that push the wheatiness to the background. And they’re much lighter/fluffier than the dense whole wheat bread that is most people’s only unfortunate experience with whole wheat.)

    Thanks for the laughs, Mark B. — the idea of putting ANYthing into a crockpot and then waiting to eat it is funny. And I share your evaluation of skim milk.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:21 am

  8. Jon, I *especially* do not like whole wheat bread from the store. But that’s like saying you don’t care for top sirloin because you once had a piece of beef jerky. Store bought wheat bread and homemade bread from a good recipe are worlds apart.

    I’m just sayin’. If you ever did have to rely on home storage for more than a few days without being able to supplement your diet with a constant supply of fresh foods, a little wheat, with the knowledge to use it, would be a tasty, wonderful thing.

    And Researcher said something very important at the top, too, that should get more attention. Foods made with whole wheat keep you filled up for much longer than just about any other kind of food. A half cup of whole wheat cereal in the morning will keep you going for hours. How long before you feel genuinely hungry again after eating a half cup of processed cold cereal?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:28 am

  9. But Ardis,surely if one is supposed to sift the wheat one is sifting out the wheat germ-what i understood to be the most nutritious part?

    Comment by wayfarer — November 12, 2008 @ 11:31 am

  10. I know people cook and eat whole wheat, but that is something you would only want to do after working your way up to it, in the style of Mark B’s dad. Otherwise the pain and suffering would far outweigh any possible health benefits.

    It does raise the issue of what to do with wheat. Grinders are rather pricey and can be temperamental if you don’t get a good one. They’re also very loud. Here are some reviews. If you have wheat and want to grind it, chances are that someone in your ward has a grinder and would be happy to let you use it. At least if you live in the United States.

    You can cook steel-cut oats the same way as cracked wheat. That’s good with yogurt and fruit.

    And, I hate to ask, Mark B or Ardis, but if I only drink skim milk, what does that make me?
    (You really don’t need to answer!)

    Comment by Researcher — November 12, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  11. BTW, I’m just offering ideas, not really crusading for a change in diet. A number of the mommy bloggers have had remarks recently about wishing they knew how to use wheat in ways that their families would actually eat. This is mostly for them, not for people who have already decided they wouldn’t touch wheat under any conditions.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  12. wayfarer, you’re not sifting OUT anything, just sifting so that the flour is light and airy, not packed down.

    When whole wheat is ground for baking, rather than merely cracked for cereal, the flour (including all the parts of the kernel) is just as fine as any bleached white processed flour, and sifts through the wire mesh of your sifter just the same.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:37 am

  13. Researcher, you’re a kitten. And probably a slender, healthy one.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:38 am

  14. Whole wheat berries can be cooked for breakfast cereal very easily: heat water in teapot (you do have one of these, don’t you) ’till boiling. Pour wheat berries into thermos bottle. Pour boiling water into thermos. Seal over night.

    In morning, decant hot water from thermos, or pour entire contents of thermos into strainer. Add milk and honey to taste.

    Comment by micah — November 12, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  15. chances are that someone in your ward has a grinder and would be happy to let you use it.

    I love this comment.

    While it would be a wonderful thing if every family could be totally self sufficient in all ways, this is an area where I wish we as a people were more like 19th century Mormons with their attitude of communal cooperation. Really good mills are expensive. Is there really any need for every family to invest in one? Or could groups of families cooperate in the shared assets?

    Actually, I know they can. Two wards I lived in during the ’70s owned mills bought with ward funds. They were housed with Relief Society sisters who really knew what they were doing, who kept the mills in good repair and supervised their use by anyone in the ward who brought wheat to grind.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:48 am

  16. Micah, I really like small servings of whole wheat berries, whether prepared in your way (which sounds like it would be a particularly great way to use on a campout) or Martin’s more formal way.

    I have to endorse Researcher’s warning, though, about eating such cereal as your first trial of wheat. Anybody who is not used to eating whole wheat should eat very, very tiny servings (a tablespoon — cooked — at most) of wheat berries until the body adapts. Otherwise, you’d be clutching at your belly and running for the outhouse every few minutes, and you’d never want to try another bite of wheat as long as you lived.

    We’ve gotten so far away from the whole, unprocessed diets of millenia of human beings that our bodies can’t handle real food without easing into it. Hmm. The obvious slogan:

    “Wheat. For REAL men.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 11:59 am

  17. Great article. I think that whole wheat cooking has been much maligned in our Mormon culture. There have been a lot of really disgusting recipes put forth and I feel they have scared people off. By the way, I have a small collection of really bad recipes that I keep for laughs.

    Whole wheat baked items can taste very good, you just have to know which recipes lend themselves well to being made from whole wheat. Here are a few general rules: #1 fresh home ground flour is always best. The stuff at the store is only white flour with bran. #2 Sweet breads or cakes that have fruits or vegetables in them like banana, pumpkin or zucchini work well with whole wheat flour.(As someone previously stated)

    Carrot cake and pumpkin roll taste good and 100% normal when cooked with whole wheat flour.

    For those of you who would like to try some recipes using wheat, but don’t have a wheat grinder, I would recommend using a blender pancake/waffle/crepe recipe. I can post it if anyone is interested

    Comment by rk — November 12, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  18. We’re interested, rk — post at will!

    And I agree with you about the difference in quality between fresh ground whole wheat flour and what you get in the store. But for someone hesitating to buy pounds and pounds of wheat before they are sure they will eat it, even the store stuff — and a good recipe — will convince them that wheat is a good thing. IMO.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

  19. Since my first comment, I happened to talk to my dad who says he puts two cups of wheat and about seven cups of water in his crockpot and cooks it all day. As to salt, he says he left it out last time and the results were still good, but about a teaspoon of salt does help to liven it up a bit.

    I asked if he ever added any cream. His reply: “Our cow [the sixth member of his family when he was a boy was a Jersey cow] would have laughed at us for calling that blue john one gets from the store “whole milk” and the almost whole milk “heavy cream.”

    Of course, if you really want to be tough, you should get some of the cereal that used to be advertised on “A Prairie Home Companion”–it was called “Raw Bits” the tough natural cereal made from oat hulls and wheat chaff. Sold by invitation only: “Send us your resume and we’ll let you know if you qualify . . .” Here’s a link–the Raw Bits ad starts at 8:16 of Segment 1.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 12, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

  20. Mark B., a friend gave us her opened box of Red River Cereal when she moved away, and we LOVED it, but we could never find it again. : (

    WHEAT!!

    A month or two ago, I was tasked with putting rice in the new rice cooker so we could have it with dinner that evening. Instead we had our dish on top of the wheat berries I had accidentally put in the rice cooker. It was actually quite good!

    We got a wheat grinder last Christmas. It’s called the NutriMill. It’s relatively quiet and creates absolutely no mess. It’s great.

    At least two of my paternal uncles have Celiac disease, but I’m sure glad I don’t, because I eat wheat, and I like it.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — November 12, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  21. as we have tried to make bread with whole wheat it has made the best door stops ever. so we use 1/2 soft and 1/2 hard. here in the south  “hard w” is hard to find. soft wheat is used for white bread and pastry. we also have humidity which changes the way we bake

    Comment by tom king — November 12, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  22. I joined the church as a young woman and had zero experience with wheat. Shortly after I married, I went to stay for a few weeks with my new in-laws, and my MIL introduced me to her wheat storage and grinder. It was eye-opening to say the least, and I did not enjoy the foods she made for me (wheat pancakes and bread).

    Fast forward a few years – my husband and I used a largish tax return to purchase an electric stone grinder, and his parents gave us about 300 pounds of their stored wheat. I experimented with the wheat, and had some interesting results. But I perservered and learned what worked. I learned to love wheat and all 6 of my children grew up with it and love it too.

    As for the wheat grinder, its wooden case is covered with pre-schooler graffiti and my children have already “claimed” it when I die. There will likely be violence.

    Comment by Fiona — November 12, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  23. Ben,

    When my daughter was in school in Montreal, we used to stock up on Red River every time we were there. I suspect that it’s not available anywhere in the U.S., except in my basement.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 12, 2008 @ 6:35 pm

  24. Fiona, your comment made my day — not that I cheer for violence at such a time {grin}, but every other part of your note made the post worthwhile. If you feet like sharing any recipes or tips, they would certainly be welcome.

    And somebody check the “I was an hungered … ” thread at BCC and see how Mark B answered the question about protecting his food storage. If his answer was suitably pacific, meet me on the corner and let’s raid his basement to find out what’s so great about this Red River product.

    Thanks for your comments, all, whether they’re encouraging of wheat use or more skeptical. I really hadn’t expect much interest on this post, and your participation has been a very pleasant surprise.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

  25. These are wonderful recipes to start out with if you have never used wheat. Buy a #10 can of wheat or have someone give you a cup of wheat and try these! Even skeptics have been pleasantly surprised by these pancakes.

    Blender Pancakes

    1 cup wheat kernels
    1 1/3 cups milk (or 1 1/3 cups water and 1/3 cup powdered milk)
    1 egg
    2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 TBSP baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 TBSPS sugar, if desired

    Place wheat in blender.
    Add milk and blend on highest speed 5-6 minutes while adding egg, oil, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
    Pour from blender jar onto hot griddle. Bake until bottom is nicely browned.  Turn with spatula and brown the other side.

    You can put blueberries or bananas in batter to make blueberry or banana pancakes.

    Buttermilk Blender Pancakes

    1 cup wheat kernels
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk
    1 egg
    2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 TBSPS sugar, if desired

    Follow instructions for Blender Pancakes.

    Blender Waffles

    Prepare as blender pancakes and put in waffle iron. For extra light waffles separate egg. Blend yolk in batter and prepare batter as directed. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter before putting batter into waffle iron.

    Blender Crepes

    Make blender pancakes as abobe except omit baking powder or soda. Use batter on crepe maker or in crepe pan.

    Comment by rk — November 12, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

  26. Thanks, rk — these recipes certainly look like an easy way to try wheat, using equipment that most kitchens already have.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

  27. year’s supply — Enough containers of wheat, honey, powdered milk and dried fruit to last a family for a year. Actually, the average family will only need a four-month supply, since it takes one month to get hungry enough to eat that stuff, and after four months of eating nothing else, most family members would rather die.
    — Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary

    I actually put that quote at the start of the ‘food storage’ section of a lengthy family preparedness handout I created for our ward back in DC. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — November 13, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  28. BruceC, up until this week I, like you, believed implicitly in the old Mormon maxim, “Store what you eat and eat what you store.” Apparently the Church no longer recommends this course of action for “longer-term storage”; see the Canadian order form for Home Storage Centres at http://www.providentliving.org/pfw/multimedia/files/pfw/pdf/113827_HSOrderForm_US_JUL_08_pdf.pdf
    That’s fine by me because I have rarely eaten the tinned potatoes I stored or managed to store the chocolate biscuits I usually eat.

    Comment by Alison — November 15, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  29. I would like a fruitcake recipe.

    Comment by Sarah Sibson — December 14, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

  30. I would like to get a copy of this cookbook. It had a fabulous recipe for picnic bars that I would like. I was raised on these cookies and would love to make them again.

    Comment by Nancy Adams — August 26, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  31. Nancy, if I can recognize the recipe from the cookbook, I’ll post it for you tonight. Or, I see lots of cheap used copies for sale on Amazon.com.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

  32. Researcher,
    I’ve misplaced, loaned or unknowingly tossed my “Wheat for Man” cookbook. My husband is totally bummed because he loves the “Butterscotch Cookies” and I can’t remember the receipe acurately enough to reproduce it. If you have the book, would you share that receipe? He’ll be forever grateful.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Jeannette — November 6, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

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