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The great grain robbery: the whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead.

We got tired of going to the grocery store and seeing shelf after shelf of limp breads puffed full of air and bleached as white as a piece of paper baking in the Georgia sun. Worse, you get one of those loaves home and they taste like they've been whipped up with a recipe that uses plaster of paris and salt as the main ingredients. These flaccid and flourless pretenders couldn't actually be called bread, could they? And what about the nutritional content? A piece of bread is about as filling as a marshmallow and probably just about as nutritious.

A little research bore out our family's observations. It turns out the original whole wheat grain is a power house pellet chock full of nutrients, yet if you buy pre-milled flour in the store up to 88% (1) of some vitamin and mineral content is already lost, and the remaining nutrients are contaminated with bleaches, caramel coloring, emulsifiers, mold retardants, texture agents and a host of other additives. Even bread that is advertised as whole-wheat flour is often baked from bleached and processed flour that has had some of the bran added back in along with a little bit of caramel coloring to darken the loaf. This sort of recipe packs far from the nutritional punch of the whole grain, homemade bread that I remembered from my youth.

It won't come as a surprise to most Countryside readers that by grinding their own whole wheat flour they can maximize both their nutrition and reduce their intake of unhealthy additives. As early as the 1960s one such test of this premise was conducted by Dr. John Williams who also discovered pantothenic acid, vitamin [B.sub.5]--half of which is lost from whole wheat during the commercial refining process. His experiment involved four groups of rats which were fed a diet of commercial enriched white bread. In addition, he fed four other groups of rats the same diet with additional vitamins and lysine. After 90 days the groups of rats eating commercial enriched white bread had suffered a 66% casualty rate and the survivors experienced stunted growth. The groups eating the same diet with additional vitamins were nearly all alive and growing.

If the vast nutritional differences between enriched white flour and actual whole wheat flour don't convince you that your store-bought bread eating habits puts you somewhere between the bull and the barbed wire, then perhaps the aroma and flavor of a hot loaf of whole wheat bread or a rich whole wheat chocolate cake fresh out of the oven might tempt you into becoming a believer.

As we've found, the first step in whole wheat cookery is turning your wheat from hard berries into something a little softer. We've had a Country Living Grain Mill around our house for over 30 years now and use it to grind our wheat and corn. Our mill was made in the U.S. and came equipped standard with carbon steel grinding plates. These are tougher than the sand-cast iron plates that a lot of the other grain mills have, including the $700 Diamant mill out of Denmark. Also, the carbon steel plates alleviate any concerns about cracking a tooth, which sometimes happens when grit gets into the flour produced by mills with stone burrs. We live near a plant that makes stone burrs and we were shocked when we found out that they use aluminium oxide as the main abrasive, so this is another reason why we like the idea of carbon steel grinding plates.

Also, our family likes that the Country Living mill is adjustable so that the consistency of the grind can be varied. Some people prefer their bread with a little bit of crunch and some prefer it very light. Depending upon our mood, we like it both ways, which works out perfectly because the Country Living mill is capable of cracking wheat, producing cake-like flour, or grinding any shade of texture in between. It also works nicely for grinding a corn flour. It's best to use your flour within several days after grinding because oxidation occurs and vitamins and minerals begin to be lost.

Though the Country Living mill is designed as a hand mill which can be used in any homesteading situation, no electricity is required, the flywheel is equipped to take a v-belt, which can be hooked to an electric or gas motor or even an exercycle! The mill is ideal for those who want to get a bit of exercise by hand or leg grinding or for those who want to take advantage of modern conveniences, but still like the idea of having a backup grain mill in case of an emergency.

Grinding times will vary depending upon the amount of flour you are producing and the consistency of that flour. Naturally, it will take more time to produce an appreciable amount of very fine flour than it does to crack some wheat for a cereal, but once you've made some flour you may want to experiment with some of the following tempting delicacies, which are among some of the recipes found on the Country Living website: (See their ad on the next page.)

Good health and good baking!
Prize Whole Wheat Sponge Cake

 6 large eggs, separated
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
 1/2 cup water
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat the yolks, water, sugar, and
flavorings with mixer in small bowl
for 5-7 minutes. The mixture should
be very thick and creamy. Transfer
the mix to a large bowl and add flour
and salt gradually, continuing to beat
on low.

Beat egg whites and cream of
tartar until stiff. Fold immediately
into the first mixture. Bake in an ungreased
tube pan for 60-70 minutes
at 325 to 350 degrees. Invert the pan
and cool the cake thoroughly before
removing it. Frost cake if desired.

Whole Wheat Waffles

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
 4 teaspoons baking powder
 3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
 2 beaten eggs
2-1/4 cups milk
 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Pour mixture on waffle griddle.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake

 3 cups flour
 5 tablespoons cocoa
 2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups sugar
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cooking oil
 2 tablespoons vinegar
 2 teaspoons vanilla
 2 cups cold water

Mix the dry ingredients together
in a bowl. Add the liquid ingredients
and beat until almost smooth. Bake
in a greased and floured 9" x 13"
pan and bake at 350[degrees] for about 30
minutes. May also be baked in two
greased and floured 8" pans for 20-25

(1) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 1971

John Elkenwood

Tulalip, Washington
COPYRIGHT 2005 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:The country kitchen
Author:Elkenwood, John
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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