POINTS TO OBSERVE IN COOKING CEREALS
I cooking cereals by any method, except browning, or toasting, it is always necessary to use liquid of some kind. The quantity to use, however, varies with the kind of cereal that is to be cooked, whole cereals and those coarsely ground requiring more liquid than those which are crushed or finely ground. If the liquid is to be absorbed completely when the grain is cooked, it should be in the correct proportion to the grain.
To be right, cooked cereals should be of the consistency of mush, but not thin enough to pour. Much attention should be given to this matter, for mistakes are difficult to remedy. Cereals that are too thick after they are cooked cannot be readily thinned without becoming lumpy, and those which are too thin cannot be brought to the proper consistency unless the excess of liquid is evaporated by boiling.
Gruels are, of course, much thinner than the usual form of cereal. They are made by cooking cereals rapidly in a large quantity of water, and this causes the starch grains to disintegrate, or break into pieces, and mix with the water. The whole mixture is then poured through a sieve, which removes the coarse particles and produces a smooth mass that is thin enough to pour.
The length of time to cook cereals also varies with their kind and form, the coarse ones requiring more time than the fine ones. Because of this fact, it is difficult to say just how much time is required to cook the numerous varieties thoroughly. However, little difficulty will be experienced if it is remembered that cereals should always be allowed to cook until they can be readily crushed between the fingers, but not until they are mushy in consistency.
INDIAN CORN, OR MAIZE
ORIGIN, CLASSIFICATION, AND USE
The word corn has been applied to various grains and is now used in a variety of ways in different countries. In ancient times, barley was called corn, and at the present time, in some countries, the entire year's food crop is referred to by this name. The English apply the name corn to wheat, and the Scotch, to oats. In the United States, corn is the name applied to the seed of the maize plant, which is a highly developed grass plant that forms the largest single crop of the country.
The seeds of this plant grow on a woody cob, and are eaten as a vegetable when they are soft and milky, but as a grain, or cereal, when they are mature. Corn is native to America and was not known in Europe until Columbus took it back with him. However, it did not meet with much favor there, for it was not grown to any great extent until within the last 50 years. Those who took it to Europe gave it the name Indian corn, because they had found the Indians of America raising it.