( Originally Published 1904 )
POTATOES contain a very large proportion of water. The solid part is only about one-quarter of the bulk of the potato and is largely starch, with a small quantity of albumen and salts held in solution in the water. There is very little starch in new potatoes. Starch is not formed until the potatoes ripen.
The chief point to be observed in cooking potatoes, and indeed all vegetables, in water, is to see that as little as possible of the nutritious elements are lost in the process. In the case of potatoes there is much difference of opinion as to whether or not they should be pared before cooking. There is no doubt that it is much more convenient to peel them when hard and cold than when soft and hot. Besides, they are more easily and daintily served. But some con-tend that there is a quantity of earthy matter or salts immediately under the skin, which is lost in paring.
If a potato is boiled without paring at all, the starch grains swell and the skin of the potato bursts. For this reason a circle of the skin is pared even when they are cooked with their jackets on. As potatoes are subject to disease, the affected parts are more ,easily removed by paring before cooking, and this prevents the absorption of bitter juices during the process. The salts which are lost in cooking the potatoes when pared are supplied in the form of salads, green vegetables, and fruits.' If potatoes are not pared before cooking, they must be well scrubbed, so that no earthy matter may adhere. When the ,potatoes are new, the skin is removed by scraping instead of paring.
After the potatoes are pared they_ must either be put on at once, or, if it is necessary to keep them standing, they must be covered with water. Pared potatoes left without water turn brown by reason of the action of the oxygen of the air upon them.
They must be put on in boiling water, because cold water has the power. of extracting the albumen and other nutritious matter, while boiling water hardens the albumen cells and no matter is lost. The water ought not to boil violently, for that will cause the potatoes to burst and break up.
Salt is added not to give the potatoes a flavor, for that is best done at the table to suit the varying individual tastes, but salt raises the boiling point of the water. This means that salt water gets hotter than fresh water before it boils. Consequently it reduces the danger of loss of salts and other matter.
As soon as a fork passes easily through the potatoes they must be taken up at once. Then they are drained, and the cover must be left off, for much water remains in the form of steam and must pass off in that form, else, when the vessel cools, the steam will condense into water and the potatoes will be wet instead of dry and mealy.
Potatoes must be selected nearly of one size to produce uniformity in cooking. It takes large potatoes longer to cook than small ones; so, if the potatoes are not nearly of equal size, the small ones will be _overdone while waiting for the larger ones to cook. A large potato may be cut in two to make it cook more quickly. - All vegetables should be washed very quickly, as the cold water will, if allowed to act long upon them, extract valuable nutritious ingredients.
The following vegetables should be well scrubbed before preparing: Potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips.
Beets are to be washed carefully, so that the outer coat be not broken. It is full of sugary juice, which escapes if the skin be broken. For the same reason, the tops are not cut off too closely before cooking. In selecting beets, do not accept any that are not fresh. The same rule applies to all vegetables. Do not take them if they are shrivelled or wilted. If such must be used, putting them fora little while in cold water will freshen them: There are several varieties of table beet, which differ very much in size, color, shape; and sweetness. The small red and the long yellow are the best varieties.
When the beet is cooked, it is only necessary to cut off the skin, not to peel the beet. If the beets are young and small, slice them length-wise; if large, slice them round. Hot beets are not healthy, if eaten in large quantities. They should be served cold, in vinegar.
Parsnips have the advantage not only of being wholesome and nourishing, but are in season both summer and winter. In the spring months, when other vegetables are scarce, pars-nips are plentiful. As they are biennials they are left in the ground during the winter, even in the most severe climates, and are dug in the spring. Great care must be taken in cleaning and preparing parsnips for cooking. The flesh is very white, but darkens on boiling. Every particle of speck or blemish must be removed by scrubbing and cutting, ' and the fine roots must be trimmed off. Parsnips take from twenty minutes to one hour to cook, according to the season of the year and the size of the vegetable. All vegetables take longer to cook in winter than in summer. If the parsnips are small, they may be cooked whole; but if large, they must be sliced down the middle.
Carrots must be scrubbed, and the outer skin scraped off. They take from one and a half to two hours to cook.
Turnips should be first scrubbed, then sliced and pared. Select only medium-sized turnips, as the larger ones are more likely to be spongy or woody.
Small young turnips require from fifteen to twenty minutes in cooking; large ones up to a full hour.
Cabbage requires great care in preparation, as it is the home of insects and worms. They are best removed by cutting off the outer leaves and soaking the inverted head in cold water. It is then cut in quarters and boiled. Cabbage takes about twenty minutes to boil. It must be thoroughly done, for imperfectly boiled cabbage deranges the stomach and causes flatulency. It is of doubtful value as nourishment, but is a pleasing addition to a meal.
Cauliflower may be treated the same as cabbage in its preparation.
Celery must be separated, thoroughly washed, and all rusty parts scraped off. The heart is the best of the stalk; the outer portions are tough and stringy. The tops, when green, are of value for garnishing; and for seasoning soup when green or dried. No green parts must be served. After cleaning it is best kept in cool water, to preserve its crispness until served. When used for salad, the pieces must be wiped dry. Spinach is a type of greens. It must be carefully picked over and washed in several waters. This is necessary to remove the particles of sand and grit. As it is a low-growing plant, heavy rains splash the leaves with earth and sand from the garden, and the heat of the sun afterwards dries it on, so that there is great difficulty in washing it clean. Unless all is removed before cooking, the dish is ruined. After boiling until it is thoroughly tender, the spinach is drained and the water pressed out so as to leave it as dry as possible.
Onions are prepared by peeling so as to re-move all of the dried or withered parts, and then soaking in cold water to remove the excessive strength, or other objectionable qualities.
Green corn is prepared by husking, but is not to be washed. Care must be taken Ito remove every particle of corn silk, for while they are not objectionable in themselves they are horribly suggestive of. hairs. It should he procured as fresh as possible, for even on the second day after picking it loses much of its flavor and becomes hard to digest. It takes from ten to twenty minutes to cook, according to size and age.
Peas and beans are to be shelled and washed very quickly. Care must be taken to discard the wormy or rusty portion of these. String beans are prepared by breaking off both ends, removing the strings, and cutting- or breaking the bean into short pieces. After cooking until quite tender, which takes from forty to sixty minutes, they are to be well drained.
Asparagus is simply prepared by cutting off the lower part of the stalk, which is tough; though this may be saved as an agreeable seasoning to soup. The asparagus is then soaked in water for about a quarter of an hour. Then it is tied in a loose bundle, using a soft string, so as not to cut through the tender sprouts. About twenty minutes will suffice for cooking asparagus, if it is tender.
LESSON RECIPES FOR VEGETABLES
Choose potatoes of the same size. Put them into cold water, and scrub thoroughly with a small vegetable brush. Cut out any black porpotions. Lay them on the grate of a hot oven, and bake them until soft. Try, by taking hold of one with an oven towel, and pressing it in the hand. A small potato usually requires twenty minutes, a medium-sized one thirty minutes, and a large one forty minutes. ' When done, crack each one open a little in the centre, to let the steam escape, and serve in a hot dish, covered only by a folded napkin. If any are left from the meal, peel them at once, so that they 'may not become watery or have an unpleasant taste.
Cut stale bread in slices one-half inch thick. Cut off the crusts, and divide the slices into one-half inch cubes. Place them on a tin sheet, and bake them until golden brown. Serve with soups and stews, or as a substitute for sliced toast.
Break stale bread into small. pieces, put them into a shallow pan, and set it in a moderate oven. When thoroughly dry, roll or pound the bread to a fine powder. If wished very fine, sift, and roll coarse crumbs a second time. The crumbs are used in making stuffings for meats, in puddings and griddle cakes, and in covering fried food, such as oysters.
SOUTHERN SWEET POTATOES
Cut -cold cooked sweet potatoes into slices, and put them in an earthen dish. Spread each layer with butter, sprinkle slightly with sugar, and bake until hot and slightly browned.
BROWN POTATO BALLS
Mash and season cold baked or boiled potatoes, or use cold mashed potato. Roll the potato mixture into balls, or pat into flat cakes. Place on a buttered tin, put a small piece of butter on top of each, and bake on the grate of a hot oven until golden-brown.
Roll the potato balls as above, and with a tea-spoon press a hollow in the top. Chop fine some cold, lean meat, season it with salt and pepper, and put 1 teaspoonful of the meat into the hollow of the potato ball. Put a little but-ter on the top of each ball, and brown in the oven on the grate.
4 cold potatoes; 12 cupful milk; sprinkle pepper; 1/2 teaspoonful salt; 1 tablespoonful butter.
Cut the potatoes into cubes or thin slices.
Put, with the milk, into a pan or double boiler, and cook until they have absorbed nearly all the milk. Add the butter and seasoning, cook five minutes longer, and serve hot.
If desired, 1 tablespoonful parsley, chopped fine, may be added with the seasoning.
BOILED BEANS OR PEAS
Choose - fresh, green beans or peas. Put them into a kettle with a very small quantity of boiling waterójust enough to' keep them from burning. Boil until they are soft. Remove from the fire; and, to 1 quart of the vegetables, add 1 tablespoonful butter, a sprinkle of pep-per, and a little salt, if necessary. Serve in a hot dish.
Wash the cabbage in cold water, trim off the limp outside leaves, cut into eight pieces, or, if it must be cooked quickly, chop it into smaller pieces. Put it into a kettle and cover with boiling water, allowing 1 teaspoonful salt to each quart of water. Do not cover the kettle, and there will be very little of the cabbage odor in the house. A . young cabbage requires about forty-five minutes, to cook. When tender, drain it well. The water may be changed each half-hour, adding fresh boiling salted water, in order-to diminish the odor.
When the cabbage is done the water may be drained off, and a little milk, I. tablespoonful butter, 1 teaspoonful salt, and a sprinkle of pepper added. Boil up once, and serve.
Vinegar is generally placed on the table with boiled cabbage. Many persons like cabbage boiled in the water in which corned beef or ham has been cooked.
Put the onions into a pan of cold water, and holding them under the water, peel. them. Put them into boiling water with 1 teaspoonful salt to 1. quart water. After cooking five minutes change the water, and after ten minutes more, change it again. Boil until tender. They usually require one-half hour to become soft. Pour off the water, add milk enough to cover them, and boil five or ten minutes longer. To 6 onions add 1 teaspoonful butter, I/4 teaspoonful salt, sprinkle pepper.
Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and let them stand a moment. Remove, pour cold water over them, peel off the skins, and cut out the green stem. Cut into slices,' put into an uncovered agate saucepan and boil fifteen minutes, or until they are soft and the juice is partly boiled away. To six tomatoes of medium size add r/4 teaspoonful salt; 1/2 teaspoonful sugar; 1 teaspoonful butter; sprinkle pep-per, and, if desired, 1/4 cup fine cracker or bread crumbs. Boil the mixture up once. Canned tomatoes may be boiled in the same way, until thoroughly soft. To 1 pint of canned tomatoes, add the seasoning mentioned above.
Scrub the beets without breaking the roots. Boil until they can be easily pierced with a skewer. When done dip into cold water, take out, rub off the skin, and cut off the tops and roots, and slice. Sprinkle with salt and pep-per, and pour on melted butter, and serve. Always boil beets separately from any other food, on account of their color.
Scrub the turnips, and pare off the thick skin. Cut in slices or quarters, and cook in boiling salted water until soft. Mash fine, and, with a wooden masher, press them in a fine strainer, or in a piece of coarse cheesecloth, to remove the water. To 1 pint of mashed turnips, add 1 tablespoonful butter, 1/4 teaspoonful salt, a sprinkle pepper. Serve in a hot dish. A few boiled potatoes are sometimes mashed with turnips to make them dry.
Scrub, and scrape off a very thin skin. Out each carrot into three or four pieces of equal size, and cook in boiling salted water until soft.
Scrub, scrape off a thin skin, cut each parsnip into quarters lengthwise, and cook in boiling salted water, from thirty to forty-five minutes, until soft. Place in a dish, and pour -a white sauce over them, or serve with vinegar on the table. - They may be buttered after boiling, placed in the oven, and baked a golden-brown.
DRIED BEANS AND PEAS
Pick them over and remove specks, pebbles, or wormy beans or peas. Soak in cold water over-night. In the morning pour off the water, add fresh cold water, and set on the back of the stove to heat slowly, and simmer until soft. If desired to use as soup, they May be boiled, after becoming soft, until they fall to pieces, and form a soft, pulpy mass. Split peas need to be soaked only one-half hour before simmering.
Pick off the roots and decayed leaves; wash thoroughly in three or four waters. Put the spinach in a large kettle, without water. Put it on the stove where it will cook slowly until some of the juice is drawn out, then boil until tender. Drain and chop if liked.. To 1/2 peck of spinach add 1 tablespoonful' butter; 1/2 tea-spoonful salt, and 1 sprinkle pepper. Heat again. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs.
SOME RULES FOR COOKING VEGETABLES
It is not necessary to soak fresh vegetables in cold water, and they should be cooked as soon as prepared. Wilted vegetables can be freshened by soaking in cold water.
For green vegetables use salted boiling water. They should be cooked rapidly. Time required for boiling depends upon the condition of the article.
When boiling such green vegetables as corn, peas, beans, celery, asparagus, and spinach, use as little water as you can. Only leave enough to moisten well. , This saves a good deal of the' matter which dissolves in water.
Cabbage and cauliflower should be boiled in an open kettle. A little soda is necessary.
With all other vegetables, excepting onions, which should be scalded and the water changed twice, they should be cooked in just enough, water to cover, and drained thoroughly after cooking.
The common vegetables are prepared for cooking in the following manner:
Potatoes should be scrubbed, washed, and pared.
Beets should be washed without breaking the skin, to retain the juices.
Carrots, wash and scrub, and scrape off the outside skin.
Parsnips should be scrubbed thoroughly, and the fine roots removed.
Cabbage and cauliflower: These should be thoroughly washed and soaked after trimming. When soaking they should be put in the water. top down, to remove insects, etc.
Spinach should be picked over carefully and washed several times.
Celery should be washed and cleaned, scraped until all parts are white.
Onions should be peeled and soaked.
Green corn should not be washed. It may be boiled with the husks on or not.
String beans should have the side strings re-moved and washed.