The quick answer: Organize and save your healthy recipes as part of your family heritage.
The King’s Food
Before I write about recipes, this week’s topic, here’s a deep thought from a Sunday School class. The lesson was on the Mormon scripture known as the Word of Wisdom. This lesson topic comes around every four years in the 30,000 or so congregations (called ‘wards’) of the LDS Church. The Word of Wisdom (W of W) guides what goes into the mouth—nutrition—and includes both prohibitions and prescriptions. The prohibitions exclude use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea. The prescriptions encourage a diet based on vegetables (herbs) and fruit in season, grains as the staff of life, and sparing meat intake.
The scripture’s easy to read but difficult to live as it goes against our prevailing food culture, the modern American diet (MAD). Mormons are generally compliant with the prohibitions, which are defined by church guidelines. The prescriptions are left to the inspiration of each member—there is no social pressure to follow them and in fact those who do so may be considered “different.” In fact, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you definitely are “different,” but in a wholesome way.
I taught this lesson in our congregation and had an insight about the “industrialization” of our food supply in the last century. Today’s white flour came from the invention of the roller mill c. 1880 by separating the wheat germ and bran from the wheat berry. This was bad for nutrition—weevils couldn’t survive in white flour, even the “enriched” form mandated in 1941.
Before the roller mill, white flour was made for kings by “bolting” freshly ground whole wheat—using a bolt of cloth as a sieve to separate small particles of the endosperm, the starchy center of the wheat berry. Only royalty could afford this labor-intensive flour, which was good for the common people as they ate the germ and bran so rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fats. Likewise, in ancient times only kings could afford to eat as much sugar as they wished.
The phrase “king’s food” caused me to think of Old Testament Daniel and his friends who declined to eat the rich king’s food in favor of their traditional pulse, a healthy mixture of seeds, grains and legumes. You know the story, how after a trial period they were healthier and smarter than the other students eating the richer royal diet.
My sudden insight was this: The industrial revolution made the “king’s food”—unlimited white flour, white sugar, meat, alcohol, etc—available to all. In America even the poorest people can be obese, and are more likely to be, unless they avoid the “king’s food” and eat like their ancestors. So to survive, we need the wisdom and inspiration of Daniel—a Biblical story dramatically more pertinent today.
I won’t bore you with my Sunday School lesson—you readers will understand what made me more passionate than is generally acceptable—but I did want to share my insight into the blessing of being as wise as Daniel.
It’s crazy hard to create a recipe. Believe me, I try to do it. There are an overwhelming number of combinations that must be tried to find the optimum ratio of ingredients. You do the math—even a relatively simple 12-ingredient recipe has 4096 possible permutations if you test just two levels of each additive.
If you have a healthy recipe that the family has enjoyed enough times that it’s a favorite in your home—you have a pearl of great price, to borrow a phrase. These healthy recipes are a treasure, a valued part of a family’s heritage. When I was young our father would bake his special whole-wheat bread once a week, grinding the wheat on a hand-powered grinder attached to the kitchen table. He would soak the flour overnight to improve the flavor, though we now know “soaking” helps reduce phytic acid.
After my father passed away in his 90th year we sadly realized that he made his bread from memory—we didn’t have a written recipe. So I have begun to collect healthy family recipes for a family history I’ll publish some day. For example, I’ve written down the instructions for what we call “Aunt Kate’s Chili Sauce.” It’s good with eggs, meat, or whatever.
Value your recipes as a priceless part of your heritage and give them a proper storage.
Please comment: Organize your family recipes and arrange to preserve them. Share your method of saving recipes, even if you just stuff them in your favorite cookbook.