( Originally Published 1904 )
Menu making is frequently a point of great difficulty to the average housewife. One of the best means of securing a properly made menu is to write down a list of whatever is intended to be provided. This need not be an elaborate affair, but should be clear enough to be thoroughly understood by the cook.
The three points to be considered are: 1. What was left over from yesterday? 2. What is now in the larder? 3. What is in season?
The first point is by no means to be despised, even by those housekeepers who are not restricted by the cost of articles of food. The English words, " warmed-overs " - and " scraps," are not so imposing and euphonious as the French rechauff'e and beaux restes; but none the less ought strict attention to be paid to the care and the use of the remnants from a previous meal. These should be well looked over; and a decision made as to what can be utilized for breakfast, lunch, or-dinner. If the cook does not appreciate it, she should be taught that nothing is too small to save; and when she sees that these are utilized in the dining-room, and are not all left for her, she will have progressed far upon the road to economy. If she sees that a dainty macedoine, or a delicate Russian or Italian salad, may be made from the cold, cooked vegetables of the previous day, she will learn that what an ordinary cook wastes may appear next day in the form of a dainty and economical entree.
In arranging a menu; care must be taken that a flavor is not repeated. If, for instance, tomato sauce is used, it is a mistake to have tomatoes again in any form. On formal occasions; even such little matters as the color of the dishes is not to be disregarded. If the fish is white, and there are two entrees, one white and the other dark, it is well to serve the dark entree first.
The great aim in menu-making is to have every dish, however simple, as perfect as possible, rather than to strive after novelty and the unintelligent use of extravagant material.
Another point which must influence a house-keeper in the selection of food and in the arrangement of menus is the knowledge of the proper food according to the occupation, age, and state of health of the several members of the family; also what food is best suited to the climate, or to the season of the year. For young and growing persons there must be an abundance of nourishing food arranged at proper intervals. Everything of an exciting or stimulating nature must be rigidly excluded. For them there should be milk, cereals, and fruit, vegetables, a small portion of wellcooked meat, few eggs; plain cake, little ice cream—not too cold, and simple puddings, and cookies, or wafers.
The diet for aged persons is like that for young and growing persons, except in quantity. One of the greatest sources of comfort in old age is a simple diet.
The occupation must be considered in preparing a diet. For those who are called upon to perform much work which tasks the muscular strength, much muscle-making food is needed. This is not meat alone, as many suppose, but includes peas, beans, and cheese. If the labor is performed in the open air, the food need not be so easily digestible as is required for those who lead sedentary lives. The outdoor life aids digestion. -
Those who are confined indoors need food which gives much nourishment in small compass, and that is to be prepared in its most digestible form. Where there is much brain exercise, fat is to be avoided, and the diet is-to be composed of starchy and heat-producing foods.
Above all, a diet must not be overbalanced. A well-prepared menu will not show too much of one sort of food. These several sorts of foods and their chemical composition have been considered in the chapters on " Foods and Their Values." Apart, from any scientific study of the question, and any regard for the, chemical side, one's appetite is the best guide for this aspect. If too many species of one chemical sort of food are provided, they will not all be eaten. Nature is, after all, a very reliable guide in these matters.
There is no doubt that the arrangement of menus is a very great tax upon the intelligence and integrity. of the thoughtful housekeeper.
It is just there that the written record of what is provided from day today comes in. There is less danger of repeating if this be done.