How to Cook Grains;10 Real Cooking Tips

How to Cook Grains.All grains, with the exception of rice, and the various grain meals, require prolonged cooking with gentle and continuous heat, in order to so disintegrate their tissues and change their starch into dextrine as to render them easy of digestion. Even the so-called “steam-cooked” grains, advertised to be ready for use in five or ten minutes, require a much longer cooking to properly fit them for digestion. These so-called quickly prepared grains are simply steamed before grinding, which has the effect to destroy any low organisms contained in the grain. They are then crushed and shredded. Bicarbonate of soda and lime is added to help dissolve the albuminoids, and sometimes diastase to aid the conversion of the starch into sugar; but there is nothing in this preparatory process that so alters the chemical nature of the grain as to make it possible to cook it ready for easy digestion in five or ten minutes. An insufficiently cooked grain, although it may be palatable, is not in a condition to be readily acted upon by the digestive fluids, and is in consequence left undigested to act as a mechanical irritant.

A Double Boiler.

For the proper cooking of grains the double boiler is the best and most convenient utensil for ordinary purposes. If one does not possess a double boiler, a very fair substitute may be improvised by using a covered earthen crock placed within a kettle of boiling water, or by using two pails, a smaller within a larger one containing boiling water.

A closed steamer or steam-cooker is also valuable for the cooking of grains. Grains may be cooked in an ordinary kettle, but the difficulties to be encountered, in order to prolong the cooking sufficiently and prevent burning, make it the least desirable utensil for this purpose.

Water is the liquid usually employed for cooking grains, but many of them are richer and finer flavored when milk is mixed with the water,—one part to two of water. Especially is this true of rice, hominy, and farina. When water is used, soft water is preferable to hard. No salt is necessary, but if used at all, it is generally added to the water before stirring in the grain or meal.

The quantity of liquid required varies with the different grains, the manner in which they are milled, the method by which they are cooked, and the consistency desired for the cooked grain, more liquid being required for a porridge than for a mush. The following table gives the time necessary for cooking and the quantity of liquid required for the various grains, with the exception of rice, when cooked in a double boiler or closed steamer, to produce a mush of ordinary consistency. If an ordinary kettle is used for cooking the grains, a larger quantity of water will be needed:—

TABLE SHOWING PROPORTION OF GRAIN AND LIQUID REQUIRED,
WITH APPROXIMATE TIME, WHEN A DOUBLE BOILER IS USED.

  Quantity of
Grain.
Water
Required.
Hours to
Cook.
Graham Grits 1 part 4 parts 3 to 5
Rolled Wheat 1 “ 3 “ 3 to 4
Cracked Wheat 1 “ 4-1/2 “ 3 to 4
Pearl Wheat 1 “ 4 “ 4 to 5
Whole Wheat 1 “ 5 “ 6 to 8
Rolled Oats 1 “ 3 “ 3 to 4
Coarse Oatmeal 1 “ 4 “ 4 to 6
Rolled Rye 1 “ 3 “ 3 to 4
Pearl Barley 1 “ 5 “ 4 to 5
Coarse Hominy 1 “ 5 “ 6 to 10
Fine Hominy 1 “ 4 “ 4 to 6
Cerealine 1 “ 1 part 1/2

All grains should be carefully looked over before being put to cook.How to Cook Grains;10 Real Cooking Tips

In the cooking of grains, the following points should be observed:—

  1. Measure both liquid and grain accurately with the same utensil, or with two of equal size.
  2. Have the water boiling when the grain is introduced, but do not allow it to boil for a long time previous, until it is considerably evaporated, as that will change the proportion of water and grain sufficiently to alter the consistency of the mush when cooked. Introduce the grain slowly, so as not to stop the sinking to the bottom, and the whole becomes thickened. If the grain is cooked in a double boiler, this first boiling should be done with the inner dish directly over the fire, and when the grain has thickened or become “set,” as it is termed, the dish should at once be placed in the outer boiler, the water in which should be boiling. It will then require no further care during the entire cooking, safe to keep the outer boiler filled and the water boiling. If the grain is to be cooked in a steam-cooker, as soon as set it may be turned into a china or an earthen dish, suitable for use on the table, and placed at once in the steamer to complete the cooking. If an ordinary kettle is used, it is well to place it upon an iron ring or brick on some part of the range were it will just simmer, for the remainder of the cooking.
  3. Stir the grain continuously until it has set, but not at all afterward. Grains are much more appetizing if, while properly softened, they can still be made to retain their original form. Stirring renders the preparation pasty, and destroys its appearance. Grains cooked in a double boiler will require no stirring, and there will be little danger of their being lumpy, underdone on top, and scorched at the bottom, as is so often the case when cooked in a single boiler.
  4. Cook continuously. If it be necessary to replenish the water in the outer boiler at anytime, let it be done with water of boiling temperature. If it is desired to have the mush quite thick and dry, the boiler should be left uncovered during the latter part of the cooking. If preferred moist, keep the cover on.

In the preparation of all mushes with meal or flour, it is a good plan to make the material into a batter with a portion of the liquid retained from the quantity given, before introducing it into the boiling water. This prevents the tendency to cook in lumps, so frequent when dry meal is scattered into boiling liquid. Care must be taken, however, to add the moistened portion very slowly, stirring vigorously meantime, so that the boiling will not be checked. Use warm water for moistening. The other directions given for the whole or broken grains are applicable to the ground products.

Grains for Breakfast.—Since hasty preparation will not suffice for the grains, they cannot be conveniently cooked in the morning in time for breakfast. This difficulty may be obviated by cooking the day previous, and reheating in the following way:—

Place the grain, when sufficiently cooked, in the refrigerator or in some place where it will cool quickly (as slow cooling might cause fermentation), to remain overnight. If cooked in a porcelain-lined or granite-ware double boiler, it may be left undisturbed, if uncovered. If cooked in tin or iron, turn the grain into a large earthen or china dish. To heat in the morning, fill the outer boiler with boiling water, place the inner dish containing the grain therein, and steam until thoroughly heated. No stirring and no additional liquid will be necessary, and if placed upon the stove when beginning the preparations for breakfast, it will be ready for serving in good season. If the grain has been kept in an earthen dish, it may best be reheated by placing that inside the steam cooker or an ordinary steamer over a kettle of boiling water.

Cracked wheat, pearl wheat, oatmeal, and other course grain preparations to be reheated, require for cooking a half cup of water in addition to the quantity given in the table. For rolled wheat, rolled oats, rolled rye, and other crushed grains, no more is needed. Grains may be used for breakfast without reheating, if served with hot milk or cream. If one has an Aladdin oven, the problem of grains for breakfast may be easily solved by cooking them all night, and if started late in the evening, they may be thus cooked over a single burner oil stove with the flame turned low.

Grains an economical food.—While grains are pre-eminently among the most nutritious of foods, they are also among the most economical, the average price being from five to seven cents a pound, and even less when purchased in bulk. If it be objected that they require much fuel to secure the prolonged cooking necessary, we would say that a few cents’ worth of oil a week and a small lamp stove will accomplish the cooking in a most efficient manner. For a hot-weather food there are few articles which give greater satisfaction and require less time and labor on the part of the housewife than grains, cooked by the aid of a small lamp stove.

WHEAT.

Description.—Wheat is the most important of the grain foods. It is probably a native of Southwestern Asia, though like most grains cultivated from the earliest periods, its history is extremely obscure.

Wheat is of two principal kinds, characterized as soft and hard wheat, though there are hundreds of named varieties of the grain. The distinction between many of these is due to variation in the relative proportions of starch and nitrogenous matter. Some contain not more than eight per cent of nitrogenous elements, while others contain eighteen or twenty per cent, with a corresponding decrease in carbonaceous elements. This difference depends upon the soil, cultivation, season, climate, and other conditions under which the grain is produced.

The structure of the wheat grain consists of an external tegument of a hard, woody nature, so coherent that it appears in the form of scales or bran when the wheat is ground, and an inner portion, more soft and friable, consisting of several cellular layers. The layer nearest the outer husk contains vegetable fibrin and fatty matter. The second layer is largely composed of gluten cells; while the center comprising the bulk of the grain, is chiefly made up of starch granules with a small proportion of gluten.

Sectional View of Wheat Kernel.

The structure of a wheat kernel is well illustrated in the accompanying cut. As will be seen, the different food elements are situated in different parts of the grain, and not uniformly distributed throughout its structure. The outer husk of the berry is composed wholly of innutritious and indigestible matter, but the thin layers which lie next this outer covering contain the larger proportion of the nitrogenous elements to be found in the entire kernel. The central portion consists almost wholly of farinaceous matter.

Phosphates and other mineral matter are present to some extent throughout the entire grain, but preponderates in the external part. Here is also found a peculiar, soluble, active principle called diastase, which possesses the power of converting starch into sugar. The dark color and marked flavor of Graham bread is undoubtedly due to the influence of this element.

Until within a few years the unground grain was rarely used as an article of food, but people are beginning to appreciate its wholesomeness, and cracked, rolled, and pearled wheats are coming rapidly into favor. Cracked wheat is the grain cleaned and then cut into two or more pieces; in rolled wheat the grains are mashed between rollers, by which process they are thoroughly softened in every part, and are then easily cooked. Pearl wheat is the whole grain cleaned and dressed. The whole grain is also cooked sometimes in its natural state.

Preparation and cooking.—Few articles of food show greater difference between good and poor cooking than the various grains. Dry, harsh, or underdone, they are as unwholesome as unpalatable. Like most of the grains, wheat, with the exception of new wheat boiled whole, should be put into boiling water and allowed to cook continuously but slowly until done. Any of the unground preparations require prolonged cooking. The average length of time and the approximate amount of water needed in cooking one cupful of the various wheat preparations in a double boiler is stated on page 82.

RECIPES.

Pearl Wheat.—Heat a quart of water to boiling in the inner dish of a double boiler, and stir into it one cup or one-half pint of pearl wheat. Let it boil rapidly until thickened and the wheat has ceased settling, then place in the outer boiler, in which the water should be boiling, and cook continuously from three to four hours.

Cracked Wheat.—Cracked wheat may be cooked in the same manner as pearl wheat, by using four and one-half parts of water to one of grain. The length of time required to cook it thoroughly is about the same as for pearl wheat.

Rolled Wheat.—This preparation of wheat requires only three parts water to one of wheat. It should be cooked in the same way as pearled wheat, but requires only three hours’ cooking.

Boiled Wheat (sometimes called frumenty).—Select newly-cut wheat, well rubbed or threshed out. Look it over carefully, wash, and put to cook in five times its measure of cold water. Let it come to a boil, and cook gently until the grains burst open, and it can be readily mashed between the thumb and finger. This will require from four to ten hours, depending upon the age and variety of the wheat used. When done, it should be even full of a rich, thick liquor. If necessary, add more boiling water, but stir as little as possible. It may be served with cream, the same as other wheat preparations. It is also excellent served with lemon and other fruit sauces.

Wheat with Raisins.—Raisins or Zante currants may be added to any of the foregoing recipes, if desired. The raisins or currants should be well steamed previously, however, and stirred in lightly and evenly just before dishing. If cooked with the grain, they become soft, broken, and insipid. Figs, well steamed and chopped, may be added in the same way.

Wheat with Fresh Fruit.—Fresh whortleberries, blueberries, and blackberries stirred into any of the well-cooked wheat preparations just before serving, make a very desirable addition. A most delicious dish may be prepared by stirring into well-cooked cracked wheat a few spoonfuls of rather thick cream and some fresh wild blackberries. Serve hot.

Molded wheat.—Cracked wheat, rolled wheat, or pearl wheat, cooked according to the foregoing recipes, and turned into molds until cold, makes a very palatable dessert, and may be served with sugar and cream or with fruit juice. Bits of jelly placed on top of the molds in the form of stars or crosses, add to the appearance. Molded grains are also very nice served with fresh berries, either mashed or whole, arranged around the mold.

FINER MILL PRODUCTS OF WHEAT.

The grain of wheat is inclosed in a woody envelope. The cellular layers just beneath contain the largest proportion of nitrogenous matter, in the form of gluten, and are hard of pulverization, while the starchy heart of the grain is easily crumbled into fine dust. Thus it will be readily understood that when the grain is subjected to an equal pulverizing force, the several portions will be likely to be crushed into particles of different sizes. The outer husk being toughest, will be the least affected, the nitrogenous or glutenous portion will be much finer, while the brittle starch will be reduced to powder. This first simple product of grinding is termed wheat meal, unbolted, or Graham flour, and of course contains all the elements of the grain. In ordinary milling, however, this is subjected to various siftings, boltings, or dressings, to separate the finer from the coarser particles, and then subdivided into various grades of flour, which vary much in composition and properties. The coarser product contains the largest proportion of nutrients, while in the finer portions there is an exclusion of a large part of the nitrogenous element of the grain. The outer portions of the wheat kernel, which contain the greater part of the nitrogenous element, are darker in color than the central, starchy portion. It will be apparent, then, that the finer and whiter the flour, the less nutriment it is likely to contain, and that in the use of superfine white flour the eye is gratified at the expense of the body.

A preparation called farina, is made from the central portion of wheat, freed from bran, and crushed into granules. Another preparation, called Graham grits, is prepared by granulating the outer layers of the kernel together with the germ of the wheat. This preparation, comparatively a new one, includes the most nutritious properties of the grain, and its granular form renders it excellent for mushes as well as for other purposes. Farina is scarcely more nutritious than white flour, and should not be used as a staple food. Graham grits contains the best elements of the wheat grain in good proportion, and is one of the best preparations of wheat. Other preparations of wheat somewhat similar in character are farinose, germlet, etc.

RECIPES.

Farina.—Heat a pint of milk and one of water, or if preferred, a quart of milk, in the inner cup of a double boiler; and when boiling, stir in five tablespoonfuls of farina, moistened evenly with a little milk. Let it boil rapidly until well set, which will be in about five or eight minutes; then place in the outer boiler, and cook one hour. Serve cold or hot with a dressing of cream or fruit juices. Farina may be cooked in water alone, but on account of its lack of nutritive elements, it is more valuable if prepared with milk.

Farina with Fig Sauce.—Cook the farina as in the foregoing recipe, and serve hot with a fig sauce prepared as follows:—

Carefully look over, washed, and chop or cut quite finally, enough good figs to make a cupful. Stew in a pint of water, to which has been added a tablespoonful of sugar, until they are one homogeneous mass. If the figs are not of the best quality and do not readily soften, it is well, after stewing for a time, to rub them through a colander or vegetable press to break up the tough portions and make a smooth sauce. Put a spoonful of the hot fig sauce on each individual dish of farina, and serve with cream or without dressing.

Farina with Fresh Fruit.—Cook the farina as previously directed. Have some sliced yellow peaches, mellow sweet apples, or bananas in a dish, turn the farina over them, stir up lightly with a fork, and serve hot with cream.

Molded Farina.—Farina to be used cold may be cooked in the same manner as before described, with two or three tablespoonfuls of sugar added at the same time with the farina, and when done, molded in cups previously wet with a little cold water. Serve with a dressing of fruit juice, whipped cream flavored with lemon, or mock cream flavored with cocoanut.

Graham Grits.—To four parts of water boiling in the inner dish of a double boiler add slowly, so as not to stop the boiling of the water, one part of Graham grits. Stir until thickened, then place in the outer boiler, and steam from three to five hours. Serve hot with cream, or mold in cups previously dipped in cold water, and serve with a dressing of fruit juice. The fig sauce prepared as previously directed, is also excellent with Graham grits.

Graham Mush No. 1.—Good flour is the first requisite for making good Graham mush. Poor Graham flour cannot be made into first-class mush. Flour made from the best white winter wheat is perhaps the best. It may be used either sifted or unsifted, as preferred. The proportion of flour and liquid to be used will necessarily vary somewhat with the quality of the flour, but in general, three parts water to one of flour will be needed. Too much flour not only makes the mush too thick, but gives it an underdone taste. Stir the dried flour rapidly into boiling water, (which should not cease to boil during the process), until a thick porridge is obtained. It is well to have it a little thinner at first than is desirable for serving, as it will thicken by cooking. Cook slowly at least one hour. A longer time makes it more digestible.

Left-over Graham mush is nice spread on rather shallow tins, and simply heated quickly in a hot oven.

Graham Mush No. 2.—Moisten one pint of good Graham flour with a pint of warm water, or enough to make a batter thin enough to pour. (The quantity of water needed will vary a little with the fineness and quality of the flour.) Pour this batter into a quart of water boiling in the inner cup of a double boiler. Remember to add the batter sufficiently slow, so as not to stop the boiling of the water. When thickened, put into the outer boiler, and cook for one hour.

Graham Mush No. 3.—Prepare in the same way as above, using milk or part milk in the place of water. Left-over Graham mush at breakfast, which has been prepared with water, is very nice if, while it is still warm, a small quantity of hot milk is well stirred into it, and it is then set by to be reheated in a double boiler for dinner.

Graham mush with Dates.—Prepare a mush as for Graham mush No. 2. When done, place in the dish in which the mush is to be served, some nice, fresh dates from which the stones have been removed. Pour the mush over them, and stir up lightly, taking care not to break the fruit, and serve. Raisins previously steamed, or figs steamed and cut into pieces, may be used instead of dates. Serve hot with cream, or mold, and serve cold.

Plum Porridge.—Prepare a Graham mush as previously directed, and when done, add to it a cup of well-steamed raisins and sufficient rich milk to thin it to the consistency of porridge.

Graham Apple Mush.—Prepare a smooth apple sauce of rather tart apples. Sweeten it slightly, and thin with boiling water. Have this mixture boiling, and add to it Graham flour, either sprinkled in dry or moistened with water, sufficient to make a well-thickened mush. Cook, and serve hot with cream.

Granola Mush.—Granola, a cooked preparation of wheat and oats, manufactured by the Sanatarium Food Co., makes a most appetizing and quickly prepared breakfast dish. Into a quart of boiling water sprinkle a pint of granola. Cook for two or three minutes, and serve hot with cream.

Granola Fruit Mush.—Prepare the mush as directed, and stir into it, when done, a large cupful of nicely-steamed, seedless raisins. Serve hot with cream. Milk may be used instead of water, if preferred.

Granola Peach Mush.—Instead of the raisins as directed in the foregoing recipe, add to the mush, when done, a pint of sliced yellow peaches. Finely-cut, mellow sweet apples, sliced bananas, and blueberries may be used in a similar way.

Bran Jelly.—Select some clean wheat bran, sprinkle it slowly into boiling water as for Graham mush, stirring briskly meanwhile with a wooden spoon, until the whole is about the consistency of thick gruel. Cook slowly in a double boiler for two hours. Strain through a fine wire sieve placed over the top of a basin. When strained, reheat to boiling. Then stir into it a spoonful or so of sifted Graham flour, rubbed smooth in a little cold water. Boil up once; turn into molds previously wet in cold water, and when cool, serve with cream or fruit juice.

THE OAT, OR AVENA.

Description.—The native country of the plant from which our common varieties of the oat are derived, is unknown. Oat grains have been found among the remains of the lake-dwellers in Switzerland, and it is probable that this plant was cultivated by the prehistoric inhabitants of Central Europe.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used oats, ranking them next in value to barley, which they esteemed above all other cereals. Although principally grown as food for horses, the oat, when divested of its husk and broken by a process of milling, is an exceedingly nutritious and valuable article of diet for human beings; and there is no article of food that has increased in general favor more rapidly in the last few years than this grain.

The Scotch have long been famed for their large consumption of oatmeal. It forms the staple article of diet for the peasantry, to which fact is generally attributed the fine physique and uniform health for which they, as a race, are particularly noted. It is related that Dr. Johnson, of dictionary fame, who never lost an opportunity to disparage the Scotch, on one occasion defined oats as, “In Scotland, food for men; in England, food for horses.” He was well answered by an indignant Scotchman who replied, “Yes; and where can you find such fine men as in Scotland, or such horses as in England?”

Oatmeal justly ranks high as an alimentary substance. It contains about the same proportion of nitrogenous elements as wheat, and with the exception of maize, is richer in fatty matter than any other of the cultivated cereals. In general structure the oat resembles wheat.

To prepare oats for food, the husk, which is wholly indigestible in character, must be thoroughly removed. To accomplish this, the grain is first kiln-dried to loosen the husk, and afterward submitted to a process of milling. Denuded of its integument, the nutritive part of the grain is termed groats; broken into finer particles, it constitutes what is known as oatmeal; rolled oats, or avena, is prepared by a process which crushes the kernels. Oatmeal varies also in degrees of trituration, some kinds being ground much finer than others. The more finely-ground products are sometimes adulterated with barley meal, which is cheaper than oatmeal and less nutritious. The black specks which are sometimes found in oatmeal are particles of black oats which have been ground in connection with the other.

Oatmeal lacks the tenacity of wheaten flour, and cannot, without the addition of some other flour, be made into light bread. It is, however, largely consumed by the inhabitants of Scotland and the north of England, in the form of oatcakes. The oatmeal is mixed with water, kneaded thoroughly, then rolled into very thin cakes, and baked on an iron plate or griddle suspended over a fire. So much, however, depends upon the kneading, that it is said that the common inquiry before the engagement of a domestic servant in Scotland, is whether or not she is a good kneader of oatcakes.

The most common use of oatmeal in this country is in the form of mush or porridge. For this the coarser grades of meal are preferable. For people in health, there is no more wholesome article of diet than oatmeal cooked in this way and eaten with milk. For growing children, it is one of the best of foods, containing, as it does, a large proportion of bone and muscle-forming material, while to almost all persons who have become accustomed to its use, it is extremely palatable. The time required for its digestion is somewhat longer than that of wheaten meal prepared in the same manner. It is apt to disagree with certain classes of dyspeptics, having a tendency to produce acidity, though it is serviceable as an article of diet in some forms of indigestion. The manner of its preparation for the table has very much to do with its wholesomeness. Indeed, many objectionable dishes are prepared from it. One of these, called brose, much used in Scotland, is made by simply stirring oatmeal into some hot liquid, as beef broth, or the water in which a vegetable has been boiled. The result is a coarse, pasty mass of almost raw oatmeal, an extremely indigestible compound, the use of which causes water brash. A preparation called sowens, or flummery, made by macerating the husks of the oats in water from twenty-four to thirty-six hours, until the mixture ferments, then boiling down to the consistency of gruel, is a popular article of food among the Scotch and Welsh peasantry. When boiled down still more, so it will form a firm jelly when cold, the preparation is called budrum.

Preparation and Cooking.—Oatmeal requires much cooking in order to break its starch cells; and the coarser the meal, the longer it should be allowed to cook. A common fault in the use of oatmeal is that it is served in an underdone state, which makes a coarse, indigestible dish of what, with more lengthy preparation, would be an agreeable and nutritious food. Like most of the grains, it is best put into boiling soft water, and allowed to cook continuously and slowly. It is greatly injured by stirring, and it is therefore preferably cooked in a double boiler or closed steamer. If it is necessary to use an ordinary kettle, place it on some part of the range where the contents will only simmer; or a hot brick may be placed under it to keep it from cooking too fast. It may be cooked the day previous, and warmed for use the same as other grains.

RECIPES.

Oatmeal Mush.—Heat a quart of water to boiling in the inner dish of a double boiler, sift into it one cup of coarse oatmeal, and boil rapidly, stirring continuously until it sets; then place in the outer boiler, the water in which should be boiling, and cook three hours or longer. Serve with cream.

Oatmeal fruit mush.—Prepare the oatmeal as directed above, and stir in lightly, when dishing for the table, some sliced mellow and juicy raw sweet apples. Strawberry apples and other slightly tart apples are likewise excellent for the purpose. Well-ripened peaches and bananas may also be used, if care is taken to preserve the slices whole, so as to present an appetizing appearance. Both this and the plain oatmeal mush are best eaten with toasted whole-wheat wafers or some other hard food.

Oatmeal Blancmange No. 1.—Soak a cupful of coarse oatmeal over night in a pint and a half of water. In the morning, beat the oatmeal well with a spoon, and afterwards pass all the soluble portion through a fine strainer. Place the liquid in the inner dish of a double boiler, and cook for half an hour. Turn into cups, cool fifteen or twenty minutes, and serve warm with cream and sugar, or a dressing of fruit juice. A lemon sauce prepared as directed on page 354 likewise makes an excellent dressing.

Oatmeal Blancmange No. 2.—Take a pint of well-cooked oatmeal, add to it a pint of milk, part cream if obtainable. Beat well together, and strain through a fine wire sieve. Turn the liquid into a saucepan, and boil for a few moments, until it is thick enough to drop from the point of a spoon; then turn into cups previously wet in cold water, and mold. Serve with a dressing of fruit juice or whipped cream slightly sweetened and flavored with lemon.

Jellied Oatmeal.—Cook oatmeal or rolled oats with an additional cup or cup and a half of water, and when done, turned into cups and mold. Serve cold with hot cream.

Mixed Mush.—A cup and a half of rolled wheat, mixed with one-half cup of coarse oatmeal, and cooked the same as oatmeal, forms a mush preferred by some to oatmeal alone.

Rolled Oats.—This preparation of oats should be cooked the same as oatmeal, but requires only three parts water to one of rolled oats, when cooked in a double boiler.

Oatmeal with Apple.—Cold oatmeal which has been left over may be made into an appetising dish by molding in alternate layers with nicely-steamed tart apple, sprinkled lightly with sugar. Serve with cream. Other cooked fruit, such as cherries, evaporated peaches, and apricots may be used in the same way. A very pleasing dish is made by using between the layers ripe yellow peaches and plums sliced together, and lightly sprinkled with sugar.

Oatmeal Porridge.—Into a quart and a half of water, which should be boiling in the inner dish of a double boiler, sprinkle one cup of rather coarse oatmeal. Boil rapidly, stirring meanwhile until the grain is set; then place in the outer boiler, and cook continuously for three hours or longer. A half cup of cream added just before serving, is a desirable addition.

BARLEY.

Description.—Barley is stated by historians to be the oldest of all cultivated grains. It seems to have been the principal bread plant among the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. The Jews especially held the grain in high esteem, and sacred history usually uses it interchangeably with wheat, when speaking of the fruits of the Earth.

Among the early Greeks and Romans, barley was almost the only food of the common people and the soldiers. The flour was made into gruel, after the following recipe: “Dry, near the fire or in the oven, twenty pounds of barley flour, then parch it. Add three pounds of linseed meal, half a pound of coriander seeds, two ounces of salt, and the water necessary.” If an especially delectable dish was desired, a little millet was also added to give the paste more “cohesion and delicacy.” Barley was also used whole as a food, in which case it was first parched, which is still the manner of preparing it in some parts of Palestine and many districts of India, also in the Canary Islands, where it is known as gofio. Of this custom a lady from Palestine writes: “The reapers, during barley harvest, take bunches of the half-ripe grain, and singe, or parch, it over a fire of thorns. The milk being still in the grain, it is very sweet, and is considered a delicacy.”

In the time of Charles I, barley meal took the place of wheat almost entirely as the food of the common people in England. In some parts of Europe, India, and other Eastern countries, it is still largely consumed as the ordinary farinaceous food of the peasantry and soldiers. The early settlers of New England also largely used it for bread making. At the present day only a very insignificant quantity of barley is used for food purposes in this country, and most of this in the unground state.

Barley is less nutritious than wheat, and to many people is less agreeable in flavor. It is likewise somewhat inferior in point of digestibility. Its starch cells being less soluble, they offer more resistance to the gastric juice.

There are several distinct species of barley, but that most commonly cultivated is designated as two-rowed, or two-eared barley. In general structure, the barley grain resembles wheat and oats.

Simply deprived of its outer husk, the grain is termed Scotch milled or pot barley. Subjected still further to the process by which the fibrous outer coat of the grain is removed, it constitutes what is known as pearl barley. Pearl barley ground into flour is known as patent barley. Barley flour, owing to the fact that it contains so small a proportion of gluten, needs to be mixed with wheaten flour for bread-making purposes. When added in small quantity to whole-wheat bread, it has a tendency to keep the loaf moist, and is thought by some to improve the flavor.

The most general use made of this cereal as a food, is in the form of pearl, or Scotch, barley. When well boiled, barley requires about two hours for digestion.

General Suggestions for Cooking Barley.—The conditions requisite for cooking barley are essentially the same as for oatmeal. It is best cooked slowly. Four parts of water to one of grain will be needed for steaming or cooking in a double boiler, and from four to five hours’ time will be required, unless the grain has been previously soaked for several hours, in which case three hours will do. If the strong flavor of the grain is objected to, it may be soaked over night and cooked in fresh water. This method will, however, be a sacrifice of some of the nutriment contained in the grain. Barley thus soaked will require only three parts water to one of barley for cooking.

RECIPES.

Baked Barley.—Soak six tablespoonfuls of barley in cold water over night. In the morning, turn off the water, and put the barley in an earthen pudding dish, and pour three and one half pints of boiling water over it; add salt if desired, and bake in a moderately quick oven about two and one half hours, or till perfectly soft, and all the water is absorbed. When about half done, add four or five tablespoonfuls of sugar mixed with grated lemon peel. It may be eaten warm, but is very nice molded in cups and served cold with cream.

Pearl Barley with Raisins.—Carefully look over and wash a cupful of pearl barley. Cook in a double boiler in five cups of boiling water for four hours. Just before serving, add a cupful of raisins which have been prepared by pouring boiling water over them and allowing them to stand until swollen. Serve hot, with cream.

Pearl Barley with Lemon Sauce.—Pearl barley cooked in the same manner, but without the addition of the raisins, is excellent served with cream or with a lemon sauce prepared as directed on page 354.

RICE.

Description.—Rice is one of the most abundantly used and most digestible of all the cereals. It grows wild in India, and it is probable that this is its native home. It is, however, now cultivated in most tropical and sub-tropical climates, and is said to supply the principal food for nearly one third of the human race. It is mentioned in history several hundred years before Christ. According to Soyer, an old writer on foods, the Greeks and Romans held rice in high esteem, believing it to be a panacea for chest and lung diseases.

The grain is so largely grown and used by the Chinese that “fan,” their word for rice, has come to enter into many compound words. A beggar is called a “tou-fan-tee,” that is, “the rice-seeking one.” The ordinary salutation, “Che-fan,” which answers to our “How do you do?” means, “Have you eaten your rice?”

Rice requires a wet soil, and the fields in which the grain is raised, sometimes called “paddy” fields, are periodically irrigated. Before ripening, the water is drained off, and the crop is then cut with a sickle, made into shocks, stacked, threshed, and cleaned, much like wheat. The rice kernel is inclosed within two coverings, a course outer husk, which is easily removed, and an inner, reddish, siliceous coating.

“Paddy” is the name given in India to the rice grain when inclosed in its husk. The same is termed “rough rice” in this country. The outer husk of the rice is usually removed in the process of threshing, but the inner red skin, or hull, adheres very closely, and is removed by rubbing and pounding. The rough rice is first ground between large stones, and then conveyed into mortars, and pounded with iron-shod pestles. Thence, by fanning and screening, the husk is fully removed, and the grain divided into three different grades, whole, middlings, and small whole grains, and polished ready for market. The middlings consist of the larger broken pieces of the grain; the small rice, of the small fragments mixed with the chit of the grain. The broken rice, well dried, is sometimes ground into flour of different degrees of fineness. The small rice is much sweeter and somewhat superior in point of nutritive value to the large or head rice usually met with in commerce.

Rice is characterized by a large percentage of starch, and is so deficient in other food elements that if used alone, unless consumed in very large quantities, it will not furnish the requisite amount of nitrogenous material necessary for a perfect health food. For this reason, it is necessary to supplement its use with some other food containing an excess of nitrogenous elements, as peas, beans, milk, etc. Associated with other articles rich in albuminous elements, rice is exceedingly valuable, and one of the most easily digested foods. Boiled or steamed rice requires but a little over one hour for digestion.

Preparation and Cooking.—Rice needs to be thoroughly washed to remove the earthy taste it is so apt to have. A good way to do this is to put it into a colander, in a deep pan of water. Rub the rice well with the hands, lifting the colander in and out the water, and changing the water until it is clear; then drain. In this way the grit is deposited in the water, and the rice left thoroughly clean.

The best method of cooking rice is by steaming it. If boiled in much water, it loses a portion of its already small percentage of nitrogenous elements. It requires much less time for cooking than any of the other grains. Like all the dried grains and seeds, rice swells in cooking to several times its original bulk. When cooked, each grain of rice should be separate and distinct, yet perfectly tender.

RECIPES.

Steamed Rice.—Soak a cup of rice in one and a fourth cups of water for an hour, then add a cup of milk, turn into an earthen dish suitable for serving it from at table, and place in a steam-cooker or a covered steamer over a kettle of boiling water, and steam for an hour. It should be stirred with a fork occasionally, for the first ten or fifteen minutes.

Boiled Rice (Japanese method).—Thoroughly cleanse the rice by washing in several waters, and soak it overnight. In the morning, drain it, and put to cook in an equal quantity of boiling water, that is, a pint of water for a pint of rice. For cooking, a stewpan with tightly fitting cover should be used. Heat the water to boiling, then add the rice, and after stirring, put on the cover, which is not again to be removed during the boiling. At first, as the water boils, steam will puff out freely from under the cover, but when the water has nearly evaporated, which will be in eight to ten minutes, according to the age and quality of the rice, only a faint suggestion of steam will be observed, and the stewpan must then be removed from over the fire to some place on the range, where it will not burn, to swell and dry for fifteen or twenty minutes.

Rice to be boiled in the ordinary manner requires two quarts of boiling water to one cupful of rice. It should be boiled rapidly until tender, then drained at once, and set in a moderate oven to become dry. Picking and lifting lightly occasionally with a fork will make it more flaky and dry. Care must be taken, however, not to mash the rice grains.

Rice With Fig Sauce.—Steam a cupful of best rice as directed above, and when done, serve with a fig sauce prepared as directed on page 89. Dish a spoonful of the fig sauce with each saucer of rice, and serve with plenty of cream. Rice served in this way requires no sugar for dressing, and is a most wholesome breakfast dish.

Orange Rice.—Wash and steam the rice according to directions already given. Prepare some oranges by separating into sections and cutting each section in halves, removing the seeds and all the white portion. Sprinkle the oranges lightly with sugar, and let them stand while the rice is cooking. Serve a portion of the orange on each saucerful of rice.

Rice with raisins.—Carefully wash a cupful of rice, soak it, and cook as directed for Steamed Rice. After the rice has began to swell, but before it has softened, stir into it lightly, using a fork for the purpose, a cupful of raisins, or Zante currents. Serve with cream.

Rice with Peaches.—Steam the rice as previously directed, and when done, serve with cream and a nicely ripened peach pared and sliced on each individual dish.

Browned Rice.—Spread a cupful of rice on a shallow baking tin, and put into a moderately hot oven to brown. It will need to be stirred frequently to prevent burning and to secure a uniformity of color. Each rice kernel, when sufficiently browned, should be of a yellowish brown, about the color of ripened wheat. Steam the same as directed for ordinary rice, using only two cups of water for each cup of browned rice, and omitting the preliminary soaking. When properly cooked, each kernel will be separated, dry, and mealy. Rice prepared in this manner is undoubtedly more digestible than when cooked without browning.

RYE.

Description.—Rye is much more largely grown and used in European countries that in America. In appearance it closely resembles wheat, although somewhat darker in color and smaller in size. Bread made from rye constitutes the staple food of the people in many parts of Europe. In nutritive value such bread nearly equals that made from wheat, but it has an acid taste not relished by persons unaccustomed to its use.

Rye is found in market deprived of its husk and crushed or rolled, and also in the form of meal and flour.

RECIPES.

Rolled Rye.—Into three parts water boiling in the inner dish of a double boiler, stir one part rolled rye. Boil rapidly until set, stirring meanwhile, then place in the outer boiler, and cook for three or more hours.

Rye Mush.—Stir a cupful of rye meal to a smooth batter with a cupful of water, then turn it slowly into three cupfuls of water, which should be boiling on the range, in the inner dish of a double boiler. Stir until thickened, then place in the outer boiler, and cook for an hour or longer.

 

MAIZE, OR INDIAN CORN.

Description.—There can be little doubt that maize is of American origin. The discoverers of the new world found it cultivated by the aborigines, and from the fact that corn was the generic term then largely used to designate grain (in old English, “corn” means grain), they named it “Indian corn.” Since that time it has been carried to nearly every part of the globe, and probably it is more extensively used than any other one of the cereals, with the exception of rice. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that it is the most prolific of the grains, and is adapted to the widest range of climate.

Maize was the chief food of the slaves of Brazil, as it used to be of those in our own Southern States, and is very largely consumed in Mexico and Peru. It was used very little in Europe until the Irish famine in 1847; since then, it has become a staple food with the poorer classes.

The varieties of corn are almost too numerous to be counted. For general purposes, however, they may be classified as field corn, sweet corn, and pop corn.

Corn is characterized by an excess of fatty matter, containing upwards of three times the amount of that element to be found in wheat. Corn requires stronger powers of digestion than wheat, and is unsuited to some stomachs.

The skin of the corn kernel is thin, and when subjected to milling processes, is included in the grinding. When well ground, it can be digested, with the exception of the siliceous coating.

Sweet corn and some of the field varieties, form a nutritious and favorite food while green. The mature grain is used in many forms. The whole grain, hulled, is an agreeable food. Hulled, broken, or split to various degrees of fineness, it is known according to the size to which the grain has been reduced as hominy, fine hominy, or grits; or, if finer still, as samp. Subjected to a process of still finer trituration, it forms meal. Cornstarch consists of the farinaceous portions of the grain.

On account of the large proportion of fatty matter contained in maize, it acquires, if kept for some time and unpleasant, rancid taste, occasioned by the usual change which takes place in fat when exposed to the atmosphere.

The new process granular meal, which is prepared from corn dried for a long period before grinding, becomes rank less quickly than that ground in the old way.

Maize meal is very largely consumed in the form of mush or porridge. This, in Ireland, is termed “stirabout;” in Italy it is called “polenta;” and in British Honduras it is known as “corn lob.”

General Suggestions for Cooking—Most of the various preparations from maize require prolonged cooking to render them wholesome; this is equally true respecting mushes prepared from samp or meal, a dish which unfortunately some cook in bygone days saw fit to term “hasty pudding.” Unthinking people since, supposing it to have been so named because of the little time required to cook it, have commonly prepared it in fifteen or twenty minutes, whereas from one to two hours, or even longer, are necessary to cook it properly. Hulled corn, hominy, and grits, all require prolonged cooking. The time for cooking these preparations may be somewhat lessened if they are previously soaked over night. They should, however, be cooked in the same water in which they are soaked.

RECIPES.

Corn meal mush.—stir together one pint of cornmeal, one tablespoonful of flour, and one pint of cold milk. Turn this slowly, stirring well meanwhile, into one quart of boiling water, which should not cease to boil during the introduction of the batter. Cook three or four hours. If milk is not obtainable, water alone may be used, in which case two tablespoonfuls of flour will be needed. Cook in a double boiler.

Corn Meal Mush with Fruit.—Mush prepared in the above manner may have some well-steamed raisins or chopped figs added to it just before serving.

Corn meal cubes.—Left-over corn meal mush may be made into an appetizing dish by first slicing into rather thick slices, then cutting into cubes about one inch squares. Put the cubes into a tureen and turn over them a quantity of hot milk or cream. Cover the dish, let them stand until thoroughly heated through, then serve.

Browned Mush.—Slice cold corn meal mush rather thin, brush each slice with thick, sweet cream, and brown in a moderate oven until well heated through.

Samp.—Use one part of samp to four and one half parts of boiling water. It is the best plan to reserve enough of the water to moisten the samp before adding it to the boiling water, as it is much less likely to cook in lumps. Boil rapidly, stirring continuously, until the mush has well set, then slowly for from two to three hours.

Cerealine Flakes.—Into one measure of boiling liquid stir an equal measure of cerealine flakes, and cook in a double boiler from one half to three fourths of an hour.

Hulled Corn.To Hull the Corn.—Put enough wood ashes into a large kettle to half fill it; then nearly fill with hot water, and boil ten minutes. Drain off the water from the ashes, turn it into a kettle, and pour in four quarts of clean, shelled field corn, white varieties preferred. Boil till the hulls rub off. Skim the corn out of the lye water, and put it into a tub of fresh cold water. To remove the hulls, scrub the corn well with a new stiff brush broom kept for the purpose, changing the water often. Put through half a dozen or more waters, and then take the corn out by handfuls, rubbing each well between the hands to loosen the remaining hulls, and drop again into clear water. Pick out all hulls. Cleanse the corn through several more waters if it is to be dried and kept before using. Well hulled corn is found in the markets.

To Cook.—If it is to be cooked at once, it should be parboiled in clear water twice, and then put into new water and cooked till tender. It should be nearly or quite dry when done. It may be served with milk or cream.

Coarse Hominy.—For coarse hominy use four parts of water or milk and water to one of grain. It is best steamed or cooked in a double boiler, though it may be boiled in a kettle over a slow fire. The only objection to this method is the need of frequent stirring to prevent sticking, which breaks and mashes the hominy. From four to five hours’ slow cooking will be necessary, unless the grain has been previously soaked; then about one hour less will be required.

Fine Hominy or Grits.—This preparation is cooked in the same manner as the foregoing, using three and one half or four parts of water to one of the grain. Four or five hours will be necessary for cooking the unsoaked grits.

Popped Corn.—The small, translucent varieties of maize known as “pop corn,” possessed the property, when gently roasted, of bursting open, or turning inside out, a process which is owing to the following facts: Corn contains an excess of fatty matter. By proper means this fat can be separated from the grain, and it is then a thick, pale oil. When oils are heated sufficiently in a vessel closed from the air, they are turned into gas, which occupies many times the bulk of the oil. When pop corn is gradually heated, and made so hot that the oil inside of the kernel turns to gas, being unable to escape through the hull of the kernel, the pressure finally becomes strong enough to burst the grain, and the explosion is so violent as to shatter it in a most curious manner.

Popped corn forms an excellent food, the starch of the grain being will cooked. It should, however, be eaten in connection with other food at mealtime, and not as a delicacy between meals. Ground pop corn is considered a delectable dish eaten with milk or cream; it also forms the base of several excellent puddings.

To pop the corn, shell and place in a wire “popper” over a bed of bright coals, or on the top of a hot stove; stir or shake continuously, so that each kernel may be subjected to the same degree of heat on all sides, until it begins to burst open. If a popper is not attainable, a common iron skillet covered tightly, and very lightly oiled on the bottom, may be used for the purpose. The corn must be very dry to begin with, and if good, nearly every kernel will pop open nicely. It should be used within twenty-four hours after popping.

MACARONI.

Description.—Macaroni is a product of wheat prepared from a hard, clean, glutenous grain. The grain is ground into a meal called semolina, from which the bran is excluded. This is made into a tasty dough by mixing with hot water in the proportion of two thirds semolina to one third water. The dough after being thoroughly mixed is put into a shallow vat and kneaded and rolled by machinery. When well rolled, it is made to assume varying shapes by being forced by a powerful plunger through the perforated head of strong steel or iron cylinders arranged above a fire, so that the dough is partially baked as it issues from the holes. It is afterwards hung over rods or laid upon frames covered with cloth, and dried. It is called by different names according to its shape. If in the shape of large, hollow cylinders, it is macaroni; if smaller in diameter, it is spaghetti; if fine, vermicelli; if the paste is cut into fancy patterns, it is termed pasta d’Italia.

Macaroni was formerly made only in Italy, but at present is manufactured to a considerable extent in the United States. The product, however, is in general greatly inferior to that imported from Italy, owing to the difference in the character of the wheat from which it is made, the Italian macaroni being produced from a hard, semi-translucent wheat, rich in nitrogenous elements, and which is only grown successfully in a hot climate. Like all cereal foods, macaroni should be kept in a perfectly dry storeroom.

To Select Macaroni.—Good macaroni will keep in good condition for years. It is rough, elastic, and hard; while the inferior article is smooth, soft, breaks easily, becomes moldy with keeping. Inferior macaroni contains a large percentage of starch, and but a small amount of gluten. When put into hot water, it assumes a white, pasty appearance, and splits in cooking. Good macaroni when put into hot water absorbs a portion of the water, swells to nearly double its size, but perfectly retains its shape. Inferior macaroni is usually sold a few cents cheaper per pound than the genuine article. It contains a much smaller amount of gluten. The best quality of any shape one pleases can be bought in most markets for ten or fifteen cents a pound.

To Prepare and Cook Macaroni.—Do not wash macaroni. If dusty, wipe with a clean, dry cloth. Break into pieces of convenient size. Always put to cook in boiling liquid, taking care to have plenty of water in the saucepan (as it absorbs a large quantity), and cook until tender. The length of time required may vary from twenty minutes, if fresh, to one hour if stale. When tender, turn into a colander and drain, and pour cold water through it to prevent the tubes from sticking together. The fluid used for cooking may be water, milk, or a mixture of both; also soup stock, tomato juice, or any preferred liquid.

Macaroni serves as an important adjunct to the making of various soups, and also forms the basis of other palatable dishes.

RECIPES.

Home-Made Macaroni.—To four cupfuls of flour, add one egg well beaten, and enough water to make a dough that can be rolled. Roll thin on a breadboard and cut into strips. Dry in the sun. The best arrangement for this purpose is a wooden frame to which a square of cheese-cloth has been tightly tacked, upon which the macaroni may be laid in such a way as not to touch, and afterwards covered with a cheese-cloth to keep off the dust during the drying.

Boiled Macaroni.—Break sticks of macaroni into pieces about an inch in length, sufficient to fill a large cup; put it into boiling water and cook until tender. When done, drained thoroughly, then add a pint of milk, part cream if it can be afforded, a little salt and one well-beaten egg; stir over the fire until it thickens, and serve hot.

Macaroni with Cream Sauce.—Cook the macaroni as directed in the proceeding, and serve with a cream sauce prepared by heating a scant pint of rich milk to boiling, in a double boiler. When boiling, add a heaping tablespoonful of flour, rubbed smoothed in a little milk and one fourth teaspoonful of salt. If desired, the sauce may be flavored by steeping in the milk before thickening for ten or fifteen minutes, a slice of onion or a few bits of celery, and then removing with a fork.

Macaroni with Tomato Sauce.—Break a dozen sticks of macaroni into two-inch lengths, and drop into boiling milk and water, equal parts. Let it boil for an hour, or until perfectly tender. In the meantime prepare the sauce by rubbing a pint of stewed or canned tomatoes through a colander to remove all seeds and fragments. Heat to boiling, thicken with a little flour; a tablespoonful to the pint will be about the requisite proportion. Add salt and if desired, a half cup of very thin sweet cream. Dish the macaroni into individual dishes, and serve with a small quantity of the sauce poured over each dish.

Macaroni Baked with Granola.—Break macaroni into pieces about an inch in length sufficient to fill a large cup, and cook until tender in boiling milk and water. When done, drain and put a layer of the macaroni in the bottom of an earthen pudding dish, and sprinkle over it a scant teaspoonful of granola. Add a second and third layer and sprinkle each with granola; then turn over the whole a custard sauce prepared by mixing together a pint of milk, the well beaten yolks of two eggs or one whole egg, and one-fourth of a teaspoonful of salt. Care should be taken to arrange the macaroni in layers loosely, so that the sauce will readily permeate the whole. Bake for a few minutes only, until the custard has well set, and serve.

Eggs and macaroni.—Break fifteen whole sticks of macaroni into two-inch lengths, and put to cook in boiling water. While the macaroni is cooking, boil the yolks of four eggs until mealy. The whole egg may be used if caught so the yolks are mealy in the whites simply jellied, not hardened. When the macaroni is done, drain and put a layer of it arranged loosely in the bottom of an earthen pudding dish. Slice the cooked egg yolks and spread a layer of them over the macaroni. Fill the dish with alternate layers of macaroni and egg, taking care to have the top layer of macaroni. Pour over the whole a cream sauce prepared as follows: Heat one and three fourths cup of rich milk to boiling, add one fourth teaspoonful of salt and one heaping spoonful of flour rubbed smooth in a little cold milk. Cook until thickened, then turn over the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with grated bread crumbs, and brown in a hot oven for eight or ten minutes. Serve hot.

 

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