Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cooking With Preps: Part One

Now, most survivalists proclaim the "stock what you eat, eat what you stock" philosophy. And most of them stock exhaustive quantities of dried wheat, rice and beans. Rice and beans, most people know how to cook them and with the addition of spices, you have a nice meal.
But whole wheat, also known as wheat berries?
Not so much.
Now, you can protest and say you will grind all your wheat into flour and make bread or whatever, but what if you are caught in a situation where you have no means to grind it?
I have prepared wheat berries--still do--and enjoy them very much. Great taste, good nutrition and easy!
Here's some ideas:

Basic Cooked Wheat Berries

1 C wheat berries 2 1/2 C water, juice or broth

You can soak the wheat 12 hours (overnight) in 2 C water, if you like. This is not strictly necessary, but it will cut down on cooking time.

Stovetop: Combine water and wheat in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed and grain is soft, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Pressure Cooker: Lower the amount of liquid to 2 cups. Combine water and wheat in a pressure cooker and seal. Cook at 15 pounds for 15 minutes, according to the instructions that came with your pressure cooker.

Slow Cooker: Combine water and wheat in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Breakfast Wheat Berries

Cooking in the slow cooker is a great way to have an easy and healthy hot breakfast in the mornings. Just put the wheat berries in the slow cooker the night before, with your choice of dried fruit. Some steel-cut oats, if you have them, would be nice. You could use old-fashioned rolled oats, too, and cracked wheat if you have any on hand. (We'll talk about how to make that in a later post.) Throw in some spices and salt (cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg would all be good.) Cook the whole thing in water or fruit juice (don't forget to add enough liquid to cook the oats, too.)

If you prefer your dried cranberries or raisins or apricots to be chewier, stir them into the cereal just before serving. Add sugar and milk in the bowl.

Thermos Wheat Berries

If you have a good Thermos, you can put one cup wheat berries and 2 1/2 cups boiling water (or boiling water or boiling juice) in the Thermos, put the cap on tightly and eight hours later you have a cooked meal! This also works for rice and oats, so you can make a meal on the go or while camping with little effort. Some people have told me it works for beans as well, but I haven't yet tried that!

Cracked Wheat and Bulghur

If you leave on the bran (outer covering of the wheat), and chop or crunch the wheat up in a blender or with a couple of rocks, if need be, you'll have cracked wheat. Cracked wheat cooks much faster but -of course- has the same nutrition as it's whole counterpart.

If you crack up your wheat as above, then steam it, then toast it until dry, you have bulghur. Cooks fast( as it has been precooked with the steaming) and has a toasty, yummy taste! I have the tendency to put a dab (just the tiniest bit!) of sesame or peanut oil in the pan while I toast it to give it an even nuttier flavor.

Bulghur is a staple in Mediterranean cooking and is served as a side to meat. You can add herbs, vegetables, etc to enhance the flavor. Bulghur is also an integral component in making kibbeh, a delightful lamb dish that makes me drool just thinking of it!

Terrific Kibbeh recipes for those that haven't had it yet...

Stuffed Kibbeh (Kibbeh Mahshi)
From Mezze: Delicious Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek Recipes (Canada, UK), by Rosamond Man.

These are the ultimate in kibbeh — long, thin, crisp shells filled with sweet, sweet pine nuts. Wet your hands thoroughly both to make the shells and to stuff them, patching up any cracks with your thumb — again constantly dipped in cold water.


225 g (8 oz) bulghur (cracked wheat)
450 g (1 lb) lamb, minced and well pounded
1 large onion, skinned and grated
Maldon or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
about 5 ml (I tsp) ground cinnamon
50 to 75 g (2 to 3 oz) pine nuts
olive oil, for frying


Soak the burghul in cold water for 10 minutes, then squeeze out, and mix with the meat, onion and seasonings. Pound until thoroughly pasty, then with both hands wet take a small lump of meat, a little less than a medium-sized egg, and shape it around your middle or forefinger to an even thickness all over, wetting the shell if necessary to close up any cracks. Drop about 5 ml (1 tsp) of pine nuts into each shell, closing up the ends in a smooth oval shape.

Heat a good 5 cm (2 inches) oil in a deep pan until nearly smoking, then carefully roll in two or three shells and fry for about 5 minutes, until browned and crisp all over. Do the cooking in small batches, until you get deft at it — if there are too many in the pan, they can stick together and then crack. Drain thoroughly and serve hot or cold with yogurt, tahina salad, and vegetable salads.

Yield: Serves 5 to 6

So, that plain old wheat sitting in those dusty buckets in your prep larder contain a world of delights!

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