Kitchen Basics – Grains

This week, my children and I made many varieties of wheat products.  Usually, we just make either European-style bread or tortillas (using sourdough starter.)  However, this week we made cinnamon-raisin flat bread, seeded crackers, cherry bread, and bagels using the same starter.  The process is basically the same, up to a point.  You begin by grinding your wheat (preferably in a WonderMill or Wonder Junior grain mill).  Add about 4-5 cups to your mixer, 1 1/2 cups of starter and water.  Knead and let it rest 4 hours or till doubled. Add sea salt or any other ingredients.  Shape and stuff how you wish, then leave for another 3-4 hours. Then bake or cook/cool or eat!  It is easy with some practice!

I am a firm believer in the idea that if it’s not in your house, you will not eat it (usually)!  So, if you leave the polished white rice, Nabisco crackers, hamburger buns, spaghetti noodles (even the “whole grain” variety) and other wheat based products **AT THE STORE** you will teach yourself how to make tasty whole grain foods.  Don’t be alarmed if it takes you some time to develop your niche recipes.  The key is to keep practicing to gain the right consistency and flavor. 

While there are many whole grains available for purchase (e.g. – millet, Kamut, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.), we tend to utilize the staples of wheat and brown rice in our home.  Some of the unusual grains, like the ones mentioned above, I bought at one time and have to use them up.  But, lesson learned…don’t make weird things for your family!  Here are some things we do at our home that are familiar to the pallet:

  • Sprouted wheat bread (homemade or Ezekiel brand store-bought bread)
  • Sourdough pancakes (does not have to taste sour, though)
  • Sourdough, whole-wheat tortillas (we eat these all the time!!! Lunch roll-up, quesadillas, etc.)
  • Bread, Bread, Bread…soft loaf, hearth-style, rolled and stuffed with fruit or meat (such as sausage and parmesan cheese…creativity abounds!)
  • Flat bread (goes especially well with Middle Eastern or Mediterranean Themes) or, cinnamon-raisin flat bread
  • Noodles (need to experiment more in this area…the trick is to be able to get it fermented, but still retain a consistent texture)
  • Cookies, using arrowroot powder or brown rice powder (brown rice put through the grain mill sweetened with honey)

These are just some ideas to get you thinking about using whole grains in your kitchen.  Every family has “comfort” foods.  The trick is to go slowly, don’t scare your family, and learn the methods of cooking best suited to the grain.  And remember not to use baker’s yeast in cooking whole wheat.  It makes the grain incredibly hard to digest.  To purchase a bread starter, Carl Griffith has 150-year dry packs online.  Just send him a stamped envelope.  Another good resource is Northwest Sourdough.

If you do not have a food co-op in your area, you may want to purchase grain online.  I buy mine from Wheat Montana and Lundburg Rice (Organic Brown Basmati Rice).  

Happy Baking!

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