“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.

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