From E E Kellogg, Science in the Kitchen (1892)
The interest in scientific cookery, particularly in cookery as related to health, has manifestly increased in this country within the last decade as is evidenced by the success which has attended every intelligent effort for the establishment of schools for instruction in cookery in various parts of the United States. While those in charge of these schools have presented to their pupils excellent opportunities for the acquirement of dexterity in the preparation of toothsome and tempting viands, but little attention has been paid to the science of dietetics, or what might be termed the hygiene of cookery.
A little less than ten years ago the Sanitarium at Battle Creek Mich., established an experimental kitchen and a school of cookery under the supervision of Mrs. Dr. Kellogg, since which time, researches in the various lines of cookery and dietetics have been in constant progress in the experimental kitchen, and regular sessions of the school of cookery have been held. The school has gradually gained in popularity, and the demand for instruction has become so great that classes are in session during almost the entire year.
During this time, Mrs. Kellogg has had constant oversight of the cuisine of both the Sanitarium and the Sanitarium Hospital, preparing bills of fare for the general and diet tables, and supplying constantly new methods and original recipes to meet the changing and growing demands of an institution numbering always from 500 to 700 inmates.
These large opportunities for observation, research, and experience, have gradually developed a system of cookery, the leading features of which are so entirely novel and so much in advance of the methods heretofore in use, that it may be justly styled, A New System of Cookery. It is a singular and lamentable fact, the evil consequences of which are wide-spread, that the preparation of food, although involving both chemical and physical processes, has been less advanced by the results of modern researches and discoveries in chemistry and physics, than any other department of human industry. Iron mining, glass-making, even the homely art of brick-making, and many of the operations of the farm and the dairy, have been advantageously modified by the results of the fruitful labors of modern scientific investigators. But the art of cookery is at least a century behind in the march of scientific progress. The mistress of the kitchen is still groping her way amid the uncertainties of mediæval methods, and daily bemoaning the sad results of the “rule of thumb.” The chemistry of cookery is as little known to the average housewife as were the results of modern chemistry to the old alchemists; and the attempt to make wholesome, palatable, and nourishing food by the methods commonly employed, is rarely more successful than that of those misguided alchemists in transmuting lead and copper into silver and gold.
The new cookery brings order from out the confusion of mixtures and messes, often incongruence and incompatible, which surrounds the average cook, by the elucidation of the principles which govern the operations of the kitchen, with the same certainty with which the law of gravity rules the planets.
Those who have made themselves familiar with Mrs. Kellogg’s system of cookery, invariably express themselves as trebly astonished: first, at the simplicity of the methods employed; secondly, at the marvelous results both as regards palatableness, wholesomeness, and attractiveness; thirdly, that it had never occurred to them “to do this way before.”
This system does not consist simply of a rehash of what is found in every cook book, but of new methods, which are the result of the application of the scientific principles of chemistry and physics to the preparation of food in such a manner as to make it the most nourishing, the most digestible, and the most inviting to the eye and to the palate.
Those who have tested the results of Mrs. Kellogg’s system of cookery at the Sanitarium tables, or in their own homes through the instruction of her pupils, have been most enthusiastic in their expressions of satisfaction and commendation. Hundreds of original recipes which have appeared in her department in Good Health, “Science in the Household”, have been copied into other journals, and are also quite largely represented in the pages of several cook books which have appeared within the last few years.
The great success which attended the cooking school in connection with the Bay View Assembly (the Michigan Chautauqua), as well as the uniform success which has met the efforts of many of the graduates of the Sanitarium school of cookery who have undertaken to introduce the new system through the means of cooking classes in various parts of the United States, has created a demand for a fuller knowledge of the system.
This volume is the outgrowth of the practical and experimental work, and the popular demand above referred to. Its preparation has occupied the entire leisure time of the author during the last five or six years. No pains or expense has been spared to render the work authoritative on all questions upon which it treats, and in presenting it to the public, the publishers feel the utmost confidence that the work will meet the highest expectations of those who have waited impatiently for its appearance during the months which have elapsed since its preparation was first announced. PUBLISHERS.
No one thing over which we have control exerts so marked an influence upon our physical prosperity as the food we eat; and it is no exaggeration to say that well-selected and scientifically prepared food renders the partaker whose digestion permits of its being well assimilated, superior to his fellow-mortals in those qualities which will enable him to cope most successfully with life’s difficulties, and to fulfill the purpose of existence in the best and truest manner. The brain and other organs of the body are affected by the quality of the blood which nourishes them, and since the blood is made of the food eaten, it follows that the use of poor food will result in poor blood, poor muscles, poor brains, and poor bodies, incapable of first-class work in any capacity. Very few persons, however, ever stop to inquire what particular foods are best adapted to the manufacture of good blood and the maintenance of perfect health; but whatever gratifies the palate or is most conveniently obtained, is cooked and eaten without regard to its dietetic value. Far too many meals partake of the characteristics of the one described in the story told of a clergyman who, when requested to ask a blessing upon a dinner consisting of bread, hot and tinged with saleratus, meat fried to a crisp, potatoes swimming in grease, mince pie, preserves, and pickles, demurred on the ground that the dinner was “not worth a blessing.” He might with equal propriety have added, “and not worth eating.”
The subject of diet and its relation to human welfare, is one deserving of the most careful consideration. It should be studied as a science, to enable us to choose such materials as are best adapted to our needs under the varying circumstances of climate growth, occupation, and the numerous changing conditions of the human system; as an art, that we may become so skilled in the preparation of the articles selected as to make them both appetizing and healthful. It is an unfortunate fact that even among experienced housekeepers the scientific principles which govern the proper preparation of food, are but little understood, and much unwholesome cookery is the result. The mechanical mixing of ingredients is not sufficient to secure good results; and many of the failures attributed to “poor material,” “bad luck,” and various other subterfuges to which cooks ignorance of scientific principles. The common method of blindly following recipes, with no knowledge of “the reason why,” can hardly fail to be often productive of unsatisfactory results, which to the uninformed seem quite inexplicable.
Cookery, when based upon scientific principles, ceases to be the difficult problem it so often appears. Cause and effect follow each other as certainly in the preparation of food as in other things; and with a knowledge of the underlying principles, and faithfulness in carrying out the necessary details, failure becomes almost an impossibility. There is no department of human activity where applied science offers greater advantages than in that of cookery, and in our presentation of the subjects treated in the following pages, we have endeavored, so far as consistent with the scope of this work, to give special prominence to the scientific principles involved in the successful production of wholesome articles of food. We trust our readers will find these principles so plainly elucidated and the subject so interesting, that they will be stimulated to undertake for themselves further study and research in this most important branch of household science. We have aimed also to give special precedence of space to those most important foods, the legumes, and grains and their products, which in the majority of cook books are given but little consideration or are even left out altogether, believing that our readers will be more interested in learning the many palatable ways in which these especially nutritious and inexpensive foods may be prepared, than in a reiteration of such dishes as usually make up the bulk of the average cook book.
For reasons stated elsewhere (in the chapter on Milk, Cream, and Butter), we have in the preparation of all recipes made use of cream in place of other fats; but lest there be some who may suppose because cream occupies so frequent a place in the recipes, and because of their inability to obtain that article, the recipes are therefore not adapted to their use, we wish to state that a large proportion of the recipes in which it is mentioned as seasoning, or for dressing, will be found to be very palatable with the cream omitted, or by the use of its place of some one of the many substitutes recommended. We ought also to mention in this connection, that wherever cream is recommended, unless otherwise designated, the quality used in the preparation of the recipes is that of single or twelve hour cream sufficiently diluted with milk, so that one fourth of each quart of milk is reckoned as cream. If a richer quality than this be used, the quantity should be diminished in proportion; otherwise, by the excess of fat, a wholesome food may become a rich, unhealthful dish.
In conclusion, the author desires to state that no recipe has been admitted to this work which has not been thoroughly tested by repeated trials, by far the larger share of such being original, either in the combination of the materials used, the method employed, or both materials and method. Care has been taken not to cumber the work with useless and indifferent recipes. It is believed that every recipe will be found valuable, and that the variety offered is sufficiently ample, so that under the most differing circumstances, all may be well served.
We trust therefore that those who undertake to use the work as a guide in their culinary practice, will not consider any given recipe a failure because success does not attend their first efforts. Perseverance and a careful study of the directions given, will assuredly bring success to all who possess the natural or acquired qualities essential for the practice of that most useful of the arts,—”Healthful Cookery.”
ELLA E. KELLOGG.
Battle Creek, April 20, 1892.
The purposes of food are to promote growth, to supply force and heat, and to furnish material to repair the waste which is constantly taking place in the body. Every breath, every thought, every motion, wears out some portion of the delicate and wonderful house in which we live. Various vital processes remove these worn and useless particles; and to keep the body in health, their loss must be made good by constantly renewed supplies of material properly adapted to replenish the worn and impaired tissues. This renovating material must be supplied through the medium of food and drink, and the best food is that by which the desired end may be most readily and perfectly attained. The great diversity in character of the several tissues of the body, makes it necessary that food should contain a variety of elements, in order that each part may be properly nourished and replenished.
The Food Elements.—The various elements found in food are the following: Starch, sugar, fats, albumen, mineral substances, indigestible substances.
The digestible food elements are often grouped, according to their chemical composition, into three classes; vis., carbonaceous, nitrogenous, and inorganic. The carbonaceous class includes starch, sugar, and fats; the nitrogenous, all albuminous elements; and the inorganic comprises the mineral elements.
Starch is only found in vegetable foods; all grains, most vegetables, and some fruits, contain starch in abundance. Several kinds of sugar are made in nature’s laboratory; cane, grape, fruit, and milk sugar. The first is obtained from the sugar-cane, the sap of maple trees, and from the beet root. Grape and fruit sugars are found in most fruits and in honey. Milk sugar is one of the constituents of milk. Glucose, an artificial sugar resembling grape sugar, is now largely manufactured by subjecting the starch of corn or potatoes to a chemical process; but it lacks the sweetness of natural sugars, and is by no means a proper substitute for them. Albumen is found in its purest, uncombined state in the white of an egg, which is almost wholly composed of albumen. It exists, combined with other food elements, in many other foods, both animal and vegetable. It is found abundant in oatmeal, and to some extent in the other grains, and in the juices of vegetables. All natural foods contain elements which in many respects resemble albumen, and are so closely allied to it that for convenience they are usually classified under the general name of “albumen.” The chief of these is gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Casein, found in peas, beans, and milk, and the fibrin of flesh, are elements of this class.
Fats are found in both animal and vegetable foods. Of animal fats, butter and suet are common examples. In vegetable form, fat is abundant in nuts, peas, beans, in various of the grains, and in a few fruits, as the olive. As furnished by nature in nuts, legumes, grains, fruits, and milk, this element is always found in a state of fine subdivision, which condition is the one best adapted to its digestion. As most commonly used, in the form of free fats, as butter, lard, etc., it is not only difficult of digestion itself, but often interferes with the digestion of the other food elements which are mixed with it. It was doubtless never intended that fats should be so modified from their natural condition and separated from other food elements as to be used as a separate article of food. The same may be said of the other carbonaceous elements, sugar and starch, neither of which, when used alone, is capable of sustaining life, although when combined in a proper and natural manner with other food elements, they perform a most important part in the nutrition of the body. Most foods contain a percentage of the mineral elements. Grains and milk furnish these elements in abundance. The cellulose, or woody tissue, of vegetables, and the bran of wheat, are examples of indigestible elements, which although they cannot be converted into blood in tissue, serve an important purpose by giving bulk to the food.
With the exception of gluten, none of the food elements, when used alone, are capable of supporting life. A true food substance contains some of all the food elements, the amount of each varying in different foods.
Uses of the Food Elements.—Concerning the purpose which these different elements serve, it has been demonstrated by the experiments of eminent physiologists that the carbonaceous elements, which in general comprise the greater bulk of the food, serve three purposes in the body;
- They furnish material for the production of heat;
- They are a source of force when taken in connection with other food elements;
- They replenish the fatty tissues of the body. Of the carbonaceous elements,—starch, sugar, and fats,—fats produce the greatest amount of heat in proportion to quantity; that is, more heat is developed from a pound of fat than from an equal weight of sugar or starch; but this apparent advantage is more than counterbalanced by the fact that fats are much more difficult of digestion than are the other carbonaceous elements, and if relied upon to furnish adequate material for bodily heat, would be productive of much mischief in overtaxing and producing disease of the digestive organs. The fact that nature has made a much more ample provision of starch and sugars than of fats in man’s natural diet, would seem to indicate that they were intended to be the chief source of carbonaceous food; nevertheless, fats, when taken in such proportion as nature supplies them, are necessary and important food elements.
The nitrogenous food elements especially nourish the brain, nerves, muscles, and all the more highly vitalized and active tissues of the body, and also serve as a stimulus to tissue change. Hence it may be said that a food deficient in these elements is a particularly poor food.
The inorganic elements, chief of which are the phosphates, in the carbonates of potash, soda, and lime, aid in furnishing the requisite building material for bones and nerves.
Proper Combinations of Foods.—While it is important that our food should contain some of all the various food elements, experiments upon both animals and human beings show it is necessary that these elements, especially the nitrogenous and carbonaceous, be used in certain definite proportions, as the system is only able to appropriate a certain amount of each; and all excess, especially of nitrogenous elements, is not only useless, but even injurious, since to rid the system of the surplus imposes an additional task upon the digestive and excretory organs. The relative proportion of these elements necessary to constitute a food which perfectly meets the requirements of the system, is six of carbonaceous to one of nitrogenous. Scientists have devoted much careful study and experimentation to the determination of the quantities of each of the food elements required for the daily nourishment of individuals under the varying conditions of life, and it has come to be commonly accepted that of the nitrogenous material which should constitute one sixth of the nutrients taken, about three ounces is all that can be made use of in twenty-four hours, by a healthy adult of average weight, doing a moderate amount of work. Many articles of food are, however, deficient in one or the other of these elements, and need to be supplemented by other articles containing the deficient element in superabundance, since to employ a dietary in which any one of the nutritive elements is lacking, although in bulk it may be all the digestive organs can manage, is really starvation, and will in time occasion serious results.
It is thus apparent that much care should be exercised in the selection and combination of food materials. The table on page 484, showing the nutritive values of various foods, should be carefully studied. Such knowledge is of first importance in the education of cooks and housekeepers, since to them falls the selection of the food for the daily needs of the household; and they should not only understand what foods are best suited to supply these needs, but how to combine them in accordance with physiological laws.
Condiments.—By condiments are commonly meant such substances as are added to season food, to give it “a relish” or to stimulate appetite, but which in themselves possess no real food value. To this category belong mustard, ginger, pepper, pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cloves, spices, and other similar substances. That anything is needed to disguise or improve the natural flavor of food, would seem to imply either that the article used was not a proper alimentary substance, or that it did not answer the purpose for which the Creator designed it. True condiments, such as pepper, pepper sauce, ginger, spice, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, etc., are all strong irritants. This may be readily demonstrated by their application to a raw surface. The intense smarting and burning occasioned are ample evidence of the irritating character. Pepper and mustard are capable of producing powerfully irritating effects, even when applied to the healthy skin where wholly intact. It is surprising that it does not occur to the mother who applies a mustard plaster to the feet of her child, to relieve congestion of the brain, that an article which is capable of producing a blister upon the external covering of the body, is quite as capable of producing similar effects when applied to the more sensitive tissues within the body. The irritating effects of these substances upon the stomach are not readily recognized, simply because the stomach is supplied with very few nerves of sensation. That condiments induce an intense degree of irritation of the mucous membrane of the stomach, was abundantly demonstrated by the experiments of Dr. Beaumont upon the unfortunate Alexis St. Martin. Dr. Beaumont records that when St. Martin took mustard, pepper, and similar condiments with his food, the mucous membrane of his stomach became intensely red and congested, appearing very much like an inflamed eye. It is this irritating effect of condiments which gives occasion for their extended use. They create an artificial appetite, similar to the incessant craving of the chronic dyspeptic, whose irritable stomach is seldom satisfied. This fact with regard to condiments is a sufficient argument against their use, being one of the greatest causes of gluttony, since they remove the sense of satiety by which Nature says, “Enough.”
To a thoroughly normal and unperverted taste, irritating condiments of all sorts are very obnoxious. It is true that Nature accommodates herself to their use with food to such a degree that they may be employed for years without apparently producing very grave results; but this very condition is a source of injury, since it is nothing more nor less than the going to sleep of the sentinels which nature has posted at the portal of the body, for the purpose of giving warning of danger. The nerves of sensibility have become benumbed to such a degree that they no longer offer remonstrance against irritating substances, and allow the enemy to enter into the citadel of life. The mischievous work is thus insidiously carried on year after year until by and by the individual breaks down with some chronic disorder of the liver, kidneys, or some other important internal organ. Physicians have long observed that in tropical countries where curry powder and other condiments are very extensively used, diseases of the liver, especially acute congestion and inflammation, are exceedingly common, much more so that in countries and among nations where condiments are less freely used. A traveler in Mexico, some time ago, described a favorite Mexican dish as composed of layers of the following ingredients: “Pepper, mustard, ginger, pepper, potato, ginger; mustard, pepper, potato, mustard, ginger, pepper.” The common use of such a dish is sufficient cause for the great frequency of diseases of the liver among the Mexicans, noted by physicians traveling in that country. That the use of condiments is wholly a matter of habit is evident from the fact that different nations employ as condiments articles which would be in the highest degree obnoxious to people of other countries. For example, the garlic so freely used in Russian cookery, would be considered by Americans no addition to the natural flavors of food; and still more distasteful would be the asafetida frequently used as a seasoning in the cuisine of Persia and other Asiatic countries.
The use of condiments is unquestionably a strong auxiliary to the formation of a habit of using intoxicating drinks. Persons addicted to the use of intoxicating liquors are, as a rule, fond of stimulating and highly seasoned foods; and although the converse is not always true, yet it is apparent to every thoughtful person, that the use of a diet composed of highly seasoned and irritating food, institutes the conditions necessary for the acquirement of a taste for intoxicating liquors. The false appetite aroused by the use of food that “burns and stings,” craves something less insipid than pure cold water to keep up the fever the food has excited. Again, condiments, like all other stimulants, must be continually increased in quantity, or their effect becomes diminished; and this leads directly to a demand for stronger stimulants, both in eating and drinking, until the probable tendency is toward the dram-shop.
A more serious reason why high seasonings leads to intemperance, is in the perversion of the use of the sense of taste. Certain senses are given us to add to our pleasure as well as for the practical, almost indispensable, use they are to us. For instance, the sense of sight is not only useful, but enables us to drink in beauty, if among beautiful surroundings, without doing us any harm. The same of music and other harmonics which may come to us through the sense of hearing. But the sense of taste and was given us to distinguish between wholesome and unwholesome foods, and cannot be used for merely sensuous gratification, without debasing and making of it a gross thing. An education which demands special enjoyment or pleasure through the sense of taste, is wholly artificial; it is coming down to the animal plane, or below it rather; for the instinct of the brute creation teaches it merely to eat to live.
Yet how wide-spread is this habit of sensuous gratification through the sense of taste! If one calls upon a neighbor, he is at once offered refreshments of some kind, as though the greatest blessing of life came from indulging the appetite. This evil is largely due to wrong education, which begins with childhood. When Johnnie sits down to the table, the mother says, “Johnnie, what would you like?” instead of putting plain, wholesome food before the child, and taking it as a matter of course that he will eat it and be satisfied. The child grows to think that he must have what he likes, whether it is good for him or not. It is not strange that an appetite thus pampered in childhood becomes uncontrollable at maturity; for the step from gormandizing to intoxication is much shorter than most people imagine. The natural, unperverted taste of a child will lead him to eat that which is good for him. But how can we expect the children to reform when the parents continually set them bad examples in the matter of eating and drinking?
The cultivation of a taste for spices is a degradation of the sense of taste. Nature never designed that pleasure should be divorced from use. The effects of gratifying the sense of taste differ materially from those of gratifying the higher senses of sight and hearing. What we see is gone; nothing remains but the memory, and the same is true of the sweetest sounds which may reach us through the ears. But what we taste is taken into the stomach and what has thus given us brief pleasure through the gratification of the palate, must make work in the alimentary canal for fourteen hours before it is disposed of.
Variety in Food.—Simplicity of diet should be a point of first consideration with all persons upon whom falls the responsibility of providing the family bills of fare, since the simplest foods are, as a rule, the most healthful. Variety is needed; that is, a judicious mingling of fruits, grains, and vegetables; but the general tendency is to supply our tables with too many kinds and to prepare each dish in the most elaborate manner, until, in many households, the cooking of food has come to be almost the chief end of life. While the preparation of food should be looked upon as of so much importance as to demand the most careful consideration and thought as to its suitability, wholesomeness, nutritive qualities, and digestibility, it should by no means be made to usurp the larger share of one’s time, when simpler foods and less labor would afford the partakers equal nourishment and strength.
A great variety of foods at one meal exerts a potent influence in creating a love of eating, and is likewise a constant temptation to overeat. Let us have well-cooked, nutritious, and palatable food, and plenty of it; variety from day to day, but not too great a variety at each meal.
The prevalent custom of loading the table with a great number of viands, upon occasions when guests are to be entertained in our homes, is one to be deplored, since it is neither conducive to good health nor necessary to good cheer, but on the contrary is still laborious and expensive a practice that many are debarred from social intercourse because they cannot afford to entertain after the fashion of their neighbors. Upon this subject a well-known writer has aptly said: “Simplify cookery, thus reducing the cost of living, and how many longing individuals would thereby be enabled to afford themselves the pleasure of culture and social intercourse! When the barbarous practice of stuffing one’s guests shall have been abolished, a social gathering will not then imply, as it does now, hard labor, expensive outlay, and dyspepsia. Perhaps when that time arise, we shall be sufficiently civilized to demand pleasures of a higher sort. True, the entertainments will then, in one sense, be more costly, as culture is harder to come by than cake. The profusion of viands now heaped upon the table, betrays poverty of the worst sort. Having nothing better to offer, we offer victuals; and this we do with something of that complacent, satisfied air with which some more northern tribes present their tidbits of whale and walrus.”
The Digestion of Foods
It is important that the housekeeper not only understand the nature and composition of foods, but she should also know something of their digestive properties, since food, to be serviceable, must be not only nutritious, but easily digested. Digestion is the process by which food rendered soluble, and capable of being absorbed for use in carrying on the various vital processes.
The digestive apparatus consists of a long and tortuous tube called the alimentary canal, varying in length from twenty-five to thirty feet, along which are arranged the various digestive organs,—the mouth, the stomach, the liver, and the pancreas,—each of which, together with the intestines, has an important function to perform. In these various organs nature manufactures five wonderful fluids for changing and dissolving the several food elements. The mouth supplies the saliva; in the walls of the stomach are little glands which produce the gastric juice; the pancreatic juice is made by the pancreas; the liver secretes bile; while scattered along the small intestines are minute glands which make the intestinal juice. Each of these fluids has a particular work to do in transforming some part of the food into suitable material for use in the body. The saliva acts upon the starch of the food, changing it into sugar; the gastric juice digests albumen and other nitrogenous elements; the bile digests fat, and aids in the absorption of other food elements after they are digested; the pancreatic juice is not confined in its action to a single element, but digests starch, fats, and the albuminous elements after they have been acted upon by the gastric juice; the intestinal juice is capable of acting upon all digestible food elements.
The Digestion of a Mouthful of Bread—A mouthful of bread represents all, or nearly all, the elements of nutrition. Taking a mouthful of bread as a representative of food in general, it may be said that its digestion begins the moment that it enters the mouth, and continues the entire length of the alimentary canal, or until the digestible portion of the food has been completely digested and absorbed. We quote the following brief description of the digestive process from Dr. J.H. Kellogg’s Second Book in Physiology The Digestion of Food:
“Mastication.—The first act of the digestive process is mastication, or chewing the food, the purpose of which is to crush the food and divide it into small particles, so that the various digestive fluids may easily and promptly come into contact with every part of it.
“Salivary Digestion.—During the mastication of the food, the salivary glands are actively pouring out the saliva, which mingles with the food, and by softening it, aids in its division and prepares it for the action of the other digestive fluids. It also acts upon the starch, converting a portion of it into grape-sugar.
“Stomach Digestion.—After receiving the food, the stomach soon begins to pour out the gastric juices, which first makes its appearance in little drops, like beads of sweat upon the face when the perspiration starts. As the quantity increases, the drops run together, trickle down the side of the stomach, and mingle with the food. The muscular walls of the stomach contract upon the food, moving it about with a sort of crushing action, thoroughly mixing the gastric juice with the food. During this process both the openings of the stomach are closed tightly. The gastric juice softens the food, digests albumen, and coagulates milk. The saliva continues its action upon starch for sometime after the food reaches the stomach.
“After the food has remained in the stomach from one to three hours, or even longer, if the digestion is slow, or indigestible foods have been eaten, the contractions of the stomach become so vigorous that the more fluid portions of the food are squeezed out through the pylorus, the lower orifice of the stomach, thus escaping into the intestine. The pylorus does not exercise any sort of intelligence in the selection of food, as was once supposed. The increasing acidity of the contents of the stomach causes its muscular walls to contract with increasing vigor, until finally those portions of the food which may be less perfectly broken up, but which the stomach has been unable to digest, are forced through the pylorus.
“Intestinal Digestion.—As it leaves the stomach, the partially digested mass of food is intensely acid, from the large quantity of gastric juices which it contains. Intestinal digestion cannot begin until the food becomes alkaline. The alkaline bile neutralizes the gastric juice, and renders the digesting mass slightly alkaline. The bile also acts upon the fatty elements of the food, converting them into an emulsion. The pancreatic juice converts the starch into grape-sugar, even acting upon raw starch. It also digest fats and albumen. The intestinal juice continues the work begun by the other digestive fluids, and, in addition, digests cane-sugar, converting it into grape-sugar.
“Other Uses of the Digestive Fluids.—In addition to the uses which we have already stated, several of the digestive fluids possess other interesting properties. The saliva aids the stomach by stimulating its glands to make gastric juice. The gastric juice and the bile are excellent antiseptics, by which the food is preserved from fermentation while undergoing digestion. The bile also stimulates the movements of the intestines by which the food is moved along, and aids absorption. It is remarkable and interesting that a fluid so useful as the bile should be at the same time composed of waste matters which are being removed from the body. This is an illustration of the wonderful economy shown by nature in her operations.
“The food is moved along the alimentary canal, from the stomach downward, by successive contractions of the muscular walls of the intestines, known as peristaltic movements, which occur with great regularity during digestion.
“Absorption.—The absorption of the food begins as soon as any portion has been digested. Even in the mouth and the esophagus a small amount is absorbed. The entire mucous membrane lining the digestive canal is furnished with a rich supply of blood-vessels, by which the greater part of the digestive food is absorbed.
“Liver Digestion.—The liver as well as the stomach is a digestive organ, and in a double sense. It not only secretes a digestive fluid, the bile, but it acts upon the food brought to it by the portal vein, and regulates the supply of digested food to the general system. It converts a large share of the grape-sugar and partially digested starch brought to it into a kind of liver starch, termed glycogen, which it stores up in its tissues. During the interval between the meals, the liver gradually redigests the glycogen, reconverting it into sugar, and thus supplying it to the blood in small quantities, instead of allowing the entire amount formed in digestion to enter the circulation at once. If too large an amount of sugar entered the system at once, it would be unable to use it all, and would be compelled to get rid of a considerable portion through the kidneys. The liver also completes the digestion of albumen and other food elements.”
Time Required for Digestion.—The length of time required for stomach digestion varies with different food substances. The following table shows the time necessary for the stomach digestion of some of the more commonly used foods:—
Rice 1 00
Sago 1 45
Tapioca 2 00
Barley 2 00
Beans, pod, boiled 2 30
Bread, wheaten 3 30
Bread, corn 3 15
Apples, sour and raw 2 00
Apples, sweet and raw 1 30
Parsnips, boiled 2 30
Beets, boiled 3 45
Potatoes, Irish, boiled 3 30
Potatoes, Irish, baked 2 30
Cabbage, raw 2 30
Cabbage, boiled 4 30
Milk, boiled 2 00
Milk, raw 2 15
Eggs, hard boiled 3 30
Eggs, soft boiled 3 00
Eggs, fried 3 30
Eggs, raw 2 00
Eggs, whipped 1 30
Salmon, salted, boiled 4 00
Oysters, raw 2 55
Oysters, stewed 3 30
Beef, lean rare roasted 3 00
Beefsteak, boiled 3 00
Beef, lean, fried 4 00
Beef, salted, boiled 4 15
Pork, roasted 5 15
Pork, salted, fried 4 15
Mutton, roasted 3 15
Mutton, broiled 3 00
Veal, broiled 4 00
Veal, fried 4 30
Fowls, boiled 4 00
Duck, roasted 4 30
Butter, melted 3 30
Cheese 3 30
Soup, marrowbone 4 15
Soup, bean 3 00
Soup, mutton 3 30
Chicken, boiled 3 00
The time required for the digestion of food also depends upon the condition under which the food is eaten. Healthy stomach digestion requires at least five hours for its completion, and the stomach should have an hour for rest before another meal. If fresh food is taken before that which preceded it is digested, the portion of food remaining in the stomach is likely to undergo fermentation, thus rendering the whole mass of food unfit for the nutrition of the body, besides fostering various disturbances of digestion. It has been shown by recent observations that the length of time required for food to pass through the entire digestive process to which it is subjected in the mouth, stomach, and small intestines, is from twelve to fourteen hours.
Hygiene of Digestion.—With the stomach and other digestive organs in a state of perfect health, one is entirely unconscious of their existence, save when of feeling of hunger calls attention to the fact that food is required, or satiety warns us that a sufficient amount or too much has been eaten. Perfect digestion can only be maintained by careful observance of the rules of health in regard to habits of eating.
On the subject of Hygiene of Digestion, we again quote a few paragraphs from Dr. Kellogg’s work on Physiology, in which is given a concise summary of the more important points relating to this:—
“The hygiene of digestion has to do with the quality and quantity of food eaten, in the manner of eating it.
“Hasty Eating.—If the food is eaten too rapidly, it will not be properly divided, and when swallowed in coarse lumps, the digestive fluids cannot readily act upon it. On account of the insufficient mastication, the saliva will be deficient in quantity, and, as a consequence, the starch will not be well digested, and the stomach will not secrete a sufficient amount of gastric juice. It is not well to eat only soft or liquid food, as we are likely to swallow it without proper chewing. A considerable proportion of hard food, which requires thorough mastication, should be eaten at every meal.
“Drinking Freely at Meals is harmful, as it not only encourages hasty eating, but dilutes the gastric juice, and thus lessens its activity. The food should be chewed until sufficiently moistened by saliva to allow it to be swallowed. When large quantities of fluid are taken into the stomach, digestion does not begin until a considerable portion of the fluid has been absorbed. If cold foods or drinks are taken with the meal, such as ice-cream, ice-water, iced milk or tea, the stomach is chilled, and a long delay in the digestive process is occasioned.
“The Indians of Brazil carefully abstain from drinking when eating, and the same custom prevails among many other savage tribes.
“Eating between Meals.—The habit of eating apples, nuts, fruits, confectionery, etc., between meals is exceedingly harmful, and certain to produce loss of appetite and indigestion. The stomach as well as the muscles and other organs of the body requires rest. The frequency with which meals should be taken depends somewhat upon the age and occupation of an individual. Infants take their food at short intervals, and owing to its simple character, are able to digest it very quickly. Adults should not take food oftener than three times a day; and persons whose employment is sedentary say, in many cases at least, adopt with advantage the plan of the ancient Greeks, who ate but twice a day. The latter custom is quite general among the higher classes in France and Spain, and in several South American countries.
“Simplicity in Diet.—Taking too many kinds of food at a meal is a common fault which is often a cause of disease of the digestive-organs. Those nations are the most hardy and enduring whose dietary is most simple. The Scotch peasantry live chiefly upon oatmeal, the Irish upon potatoes, milk, and oatmeal, the Italian upon peas, beans, macaroni, and chestnuts; yet all these are noted for remarkable health and endurance. The natives of the Canary Islands, an exceedingly well-developed and vigorous race, subsist almost chiefly upon a food which they call gofio, consisting of parched grain, coarsely ground in a mortar and mixed with water.
“Eating when Tired.—It is not well to eat when exhausted by violent exercise, as the system is not prepared to do the work of digestion well. Sleeping immediately after eating is also a harmful practice. The process of digestion cannot well be performed during sleep, and sleep is disturbed by the ineffective efforts of the digestive organs. Hence the well-known evil effects of late suppers.
“Eating too Much.—Hasty eating is the greatest cause of over-eating. When one eats too rapidly, the food is crowded into the stomach so fast that nature has no time to cry, ‘Enough,’ by taking away the appetite before too much has been eaten. When an excess of food is taken, it is likely to ferment or sour before it can be digested. One who eats too much usually feels dull after eating.
“How Much Food is Enough?—The proper quantity for each person to take is what he is able to digest and utilize. This amount of various with each individual, at different times. The amount needed will vary with the amount of work done, mental or muscular; with the weather or the season of the year, more food being required in cold than in warm weather: with the age of an individual, very old and very young persons requiring less food than those of middle age. An unperverted appetite, not artificially stimulated, is a safe guide. Drowsiness, dullness, and heaviness at the stomach are indications of an excess of eating, and naturally suggest a lessening of the quantity of food, unless the symptoms are known to arise from some other cause.
“Excess of Certain Food Elements.—When sugar is too freely used, either with food or in the form of sweetmeats or candies, indigestion, and even more serious disease, is likely to result. Fats, when freely used, give rise to indigestion and ‘biliousness.’ An excess of albumen from the too free use of meat is harmful. Only a limited amount of this element can be used; an excess is treated as waste matter, and must be removed from the system by the liver and the kidneys. The majority of persons would enjoy better health by using meat more moderately than is customary in this country.
“Deficiency of Certain Food Elements.—A diet deficient in any important food element is even more detrimental to health than a diet in which certain elements are in excess.
“The popular notion that beef-tea and meat extracts contain the nourishing elements of meat in a concentrated form, is a dangerous error. Undoubtedly many sick persons have been starved by being fed exclusively upon these articles, which are almost wholly composed of waste substances. Prof. Paule Bernard, of Paris, found that dogs fed upon meat extracts died sooner than those which received only water.”
Food combinations.—Some persons, especially those of weak digestive powers, often experience inconvenience in the use of certain foods, owing to their improper combinations with other articles. Many foods which are digested easily when partaken of alone or in harmonious combinations, create much disturbance when eaten at the same meal with several different articles of food, or with some particular article with which they are especially incompatible. The following food combinations are among the best, the relative excellence of each being indicated by the order in which they are named: Milk and grains; grains and eggs; grains and vegetables or meats; grains and fruits.
Persons with sound stomachs and vigorous digestion will seldom experience inconvenience in making use of other and more varied combinations, but dyspeptics and persons troubled with slow digestion will find it to their advantage to select from the bill of fare such articles as best accord with each other, and to avoid such combinations as fruits and vegetables, milk and vegetables, milk and meats, sugar and milk, meat or vegetables, fats with fruits, meats, or vegetables, or cooked with grains.
It is not enough that good and proper food material be provided; it must have such preparation as will increase and not diminish its alimentary value. The unwholesomeness of food is quite as often due to bad cookery as to improper selection of material. Proper cookery renders good food material more digestible. When scientifically done, cooking changes each of the food elements, with the exception of fats, in much the same manner as do the digestive juices, and at the same time it breaks up the food by dissolving the soluble portions, so that its elements are more readily acted upon by the digestive fluids. Cookery, however, often fails to attain the desired end; and the best material is rendered useless and unwholesome by a improper preparation.
It is rare to find a table, some portion of the food upon which is not rendered unwholesome either by improper preparatory treatment, or by the addition of some deleterious substance. This is doubtless due to the fact that the preparation of food being such a commonplace matter, its important relations to health, mind, and body have been overlooked, and it has been regarded as a menial service which might be undertaken with little or no preparation, and without attention to matters other than those which relate to the pleasure of the eye and the palate. With taste only as a criterion, it is so easy to disguise the results of careless and improper cookery of food by the use of flavors and condiments, as well as to palm off upon the digestive organs all sorts of inferior material, that poor cookery has come to be the rule rather than the exception.
Another reason for this prevalence of bad cookery, is to be found in the fact that in so many homes the cooking is intrusted to an ignorant class of persons having no knowledge whatever of the scientific principles involved in this most important and practical of arts. An ethical problem which we have been unable to solve is the fact that women who would never think of trusting the care of their fine china and bric-a-brac to unskilled hands, unhesitatingly intrust to persons who are almost wholly untrained, the preparation of their daily food. There is no department of life where superior intelligence is more needed than in the selection and preparation of food, upon which so largely depend the health and physical welfare of the family circle.
The evils of bad cookery and ill-selected food are manifold, so many, in fact, that it has been calculated that they far exceed the mischief arising from the use of strong drink; indeed, one of the evils of unwholesome food is its decided tendency to create a craving for intoxicants. Bad cookery causes indigestion, indigestion causes thirst, and thirst perpetuates drunkenness. Any one who has suffered from a fit of indigestion, and can recollect the accompanying headache and the lowness of spirits, varying in degree from dejection or ill-humor to the most extreme melancholy, until the intellectual faculties seemed dazed, and the moral feelings blunted, will hardly wonder that when such a condition becomes chronic, as is often the case from the use of improperly prepared food, the victim is easily led to resort to stimulants to drown depression and enliven the spirits.
A thorough practical knowledge of simple, wholesome cookery ought to form a part of the education of every young woman, whatever her station in life. No position in life is more responsible than that of the person who arranges the bills of fare and selects the food for the household; and what higher mission can one conceive than to intelligently prepare the wherewithal to make shoulders strong to bear life’s burdens and heads clear to solve its intricate problems? what worthier work than to help in the building up of bodies into pure temples fit for guests of noble thoughts and high purposes? Surely, no one should undertake such important work without a knowledge of the principles involved.
Vegetables used for culinary purposes comprise roots and tubers, as potatoes, turnips, etc.; shoots and stems, as asparagus and sea-kale; leaves and inflorescence, as spinach and cabbage; immature seeds, grains, and seed receptacles, as green peas, corn, and string-beans; and a few of the fruity products, as the tomato and the squash. Of these the tubers rank the highest in nutritive value.
Vegetables are by no means the most nutritious diet, as water enters largely into their composition; but food to supply perfectly the needs of the vital economy, must contain water and indigestible as well as nutritive elements. Thus they are dietetically of great value, since they furnish a large quantity of organic fluids. Vegetables are rich in mineral elements, and are also of service in giving bulk to food. An exclusive diet of vegetables, however, would give too great bulk, and at the same time fail to supply the proper amount of food elements. To furnish the requisite amount of nitrogenous material for one day, if potatoes alone were depended upon as food, a person would need to consume about nine pounds; of turnips, sixteen pounds; of parsnips, eighteen pounds; of cabbage, twenty-two pounds. Hence it is wise to use them in combination with other articles of diet—grains, whole-wheat bread, etc.—that supplement the qualities lacking in the vegetables.
To Select Vegetables.—All roots and tubers should be plump, free from decay, bruises, and disease, and with fresh, unshriveled skins. They are good from the time of maturing until they begin to germinate. Sprouted vegetables are unfit for food. Potato sprouts contain a poison allied to belladonna. All vegetables beginning to decay are unfit for food.
Green vegetables to be wholesome should be freshly gathered, crisp, and juicy; those which have lain long in the market are very questionable food. In Paris, a law forbids a market-man to offer for sale any green vegetable kept more than one day. The use of stale vegetables is known to have been the cause of serious illness.
Keeping Vegetables—If necessary to keep green vegetables for any length of time, do not put them in water, as that will dissolve and destroy some of their juices; but lay them in a cool, dark place,—on a stone floor is best,—and do not remove their outer leaves until needed. They should be cooked the day they are gathered, if possible. The best way to freshen those with the stems when withered is to cut off a bit of the stem or stem-end, and set only the cut part in water. The vegetables will then absorb enough water to replace what has been lost by evaporation.
Peas and beans should not be shelled until wanted. If, however, they are not used as soon as shelled, cover them with pods and put in a cool place.
Winter vegetables can be best kept wholesome by storing in a cool, dry place of even temperature, and where neither warmth, moisture, nor light is present to induce decay or germination. They should be well sorted, the bruised or decayed, rejected, and the rest put into clean bins or boxes; and should be dry and clean when stored. Vegetables soon absorb bad flavors if left near anything odorous or decomposing, and are thus rendered unwholesome. They should be looked over often, and decayed ones removed. Vegetables, to be kept fit for food, should on no account be stored in a cellar with barrels of fermenting pickle brine, soft soap, heaps of decomposing rubbish, and other similar things frequently found in the dark, damp vegetable cellars of modern houses.
Preparation and Cooking.—Most vegetables need thorough washing before cooking. Roots and tubers should be well cleaned before paring. A vegetable brush or a small whisk broom is especially serviceable for this purpose. If necessary to wash shelled beans and peas, it can best be accomplished by putting them in a colander and dipping in and out of large pans of water until clean. Spinach, lettuce, and other leaves may be cleaned the same way.
Vegetables admit of much variety in preparation for the table, and are commonly held to require the least culinary skill of any article of diet. This is a mistake. Though the usual processes employed to make vegetables palatable are simple, yet many cooks, from carelessness or lack of knowledge of their nature and composition, convert some of the most nutritious vegetables into dishes almost worthless as food or almost impossible of digestion. It requires no little care and skill to cook vegetables so that they will neither be underdone nor overdone, and so that they will retain their natural flavors.
A general rule, applicable to all vegetables to be boiled or stewed, is to cook them in as little water as may be without burning. The salts and nutrient juices are largely lost in the water; and if this needs to be drained off, much of the nutriment is apt to be wasted. Many cooks throw away the true richness, while they serve the “husks” only. Condiments and seasonings may cover insipid taste, but they cannot restore lost elements. Vegetables contain so much water in their composition that it is not necessary to add large quantities for cooking, as in the case of the grains and legumes, which have lost nearly all their moisture in the ripening process. Some vegetables are much better cooked without the addition of water.
Vegetables to be cooked by boiling should be put into boiling water; and since water loses its goodness by boiling, vegetables should be put in as soon as the boiling begins. The process of cooking should be continuous, and in general gentle heat is best. Remember that when water is boiling, the temperature is not increased by violent bubbling. Keep the cooking utensil closely covered. If water is added, let it also be boiling hot.
Vegetables not of uniform size should be so assorted that those of the same size may be cooked together, or large ones may be divided. Green vegetables retain their color best if cook rapidly. Soda is sometimes added to the water in which the vegetables are cooked, for the purpose of preserving their colors, but this practice is very harmful.
Vegetables should be cooked until they are perfectly tender but not overdone. Many cooks spoil their vegetables by cooking them too long, while quite as many more serve them in an underdone state to preserve their form. Either plan makes them less palatable, and likely to be indigestible.
Steaming or baking is preferable for most vegetables, because their finer flavors are more easily retained, and their food value suffers less diminution. Particularly is this true of tubers.
The time required for cooking depends much upon the age and freshness of the vegetables, as well as the method of cooking employed. Wilted vegetables require a longer time for cooking than fresh ones.
Time Required for Cooking.—The following is the approximate length of time required for cooking some of the more commonly used vegetables:—
Potatoes, baked, 30 to 45 minutes.
Potatoes, steamed, 20 to 40 minutes.
Potatoes, boiled (in jackets), 20 to 25 minutes after the water is fairly boiling.
Potatoes, pared, about 20 minutes if of medium size; if very large, they will require from 25 to 45 minutes.
Green corn, young, from 15 to 20 minutes.
Peas, 25 to 30 minutes.
Asparagus, 15 to 20 minutes, young; 30 to 50 if old.
Tomatoes, 1 to 2 hours.
String beans and shelled beans, 45 to 60 minutes or longer.
Beets, boiled, 1 hour if young; old, 3 to 5 hours.
Beets, baked, 3 to 6 hours. Carrots, 1 to 2 hours.
Parsnips, 45 minutes, young; old, 1 to 2 hours.
Turnips, young, 45 minutes; old, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Winter squash, 1 hour. Cabbage, young, 1 hour; old, 2 to 3 hours.
Vegetable oysters, 1 to 2 hours.
Celery, 20 to 30 minutes.
Spinach, 20 to 60 minutes or more.
Cauliflower, 20 to 40 minutes.
Summer squash, 20 to 60 minutes.
If vegetables after being cooked cannot be served at once, dish them up as soon as done, and place the dishes in a bain marie or in pans of hot water, where they will keep of even temperature, but not boil. Vegetables are never so good after standing, but they spoil less kept in this way than any other. The water in the pans should be of equal depth with the food in the dishes. Stewed vegetables and others prepared with a sauce, may, when cold, be reheated in a similar manner.
Description.—The garden carrot is a cultivated variety of a plant belonging to the Umbettiferæ, and grows wild in many portions of Europe. The root has long been used for food. By the ancient Greeks and Romans it was much esteemed as a salad. The carrot is said to have been introduced into England by Flemish refugees during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. Its feathery leaves were used by the ladies as an adornment for their headdresses, in place of plumes. Carrots contain sugar enough for making a syrup from them; they also yield by fermentation and distillation a spirituous liquor. In Germany they are sometimes cut into small pieces, and roasted as a substitute for coffee.
Starch does not enter into the composition of carrots, but a small portion of pectose is found instead. Carrots contain more water than parsnips, and both much cellulose and little nutritive material. Carrots when well cooked form a wholesome food, but one not adapted to weak stomachs, as they are rather hard to digest and tend to flatulence.
Preparation and Cooking.—The suggestions given for the preparation of parsnips are also applicable to carrots; and they may be boiled, steamed, or browned in the same manner. From one to two hours time will be required, according to age, size, variety, and method of cooking.
CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI.
Description.—These vegetables are botanically allied to the cabbage, and are similar in composition. They are entirely the product of cultivation, and constitute the inflorescence of the plant, which horticultural art has made to grow into a compact head of white color in the cauliflower, and of varying shades of buff, green, and purple in the broccoli. There is very little difference between the two aside from the color, and they are treated alike for culinary purposes. They were known to the Greeks and Romans, and highly appreciated by connoisseurs. They are not as nutritious as the cabbage, but have a more delicate and agreeable flavor.
Preparation and Cooking.—The leaves should be green and fresh, and the heads of cauliflower creamy white; when there are dark spots, it is wilted. The color of broccoli will depend upon the variety, but the head should be firm, with no discolorations. To prepare, pick off the outside leaves, cut the stalk squarely across, about two inches below the flower, and if very thick, split and wash thoroughly in several waters; or better still, hold it under the faucet, flower downward, and allow a constant stream of water to fall over it for several minutes; then place top downward in a pan of lukewarm salted water, to drive out any insects which may be hidden in it; examine carefully for worms just the color of the stalk; tie in a net (mosquito netting, say) to prevent breaking, or place the cauliflower on a plate in a steamer, and boil, or steam, as is most convenient. The time required for cooking will vary from twenty to forty minutes.
(The recipes given are applicable to both broccoli and cauliflower.)
Boiled Cauliflower.—Prepare, divide into neat branches, and tie securely in a net. Put into boiling milk and water, equal quantities, and cook until the main stalks are tender. Boil rapidly the first five minutes, afterward more moderately, to prevent the flower from becoming done before the stalks. Serve on a hot dish with cream sauce or diluted lemon juice.
Browned Cauliflower.—Beat together two eggs, a little salt, four tablespoonfuls of sweet cream, and a small quantity of grated bread crumbs well moistened with a little milk, till of the consistency of batter. Steam the cauliflower until tender, separate it into small bunches, dip each top in the mixture, and place in nice order in a pudding dish; put in the oven and brown.
Cauliflower with Egg Sauce.—Steam the cauliflower until tender, separate into small portions, dish, and serve with an egg sauce prepared as directed for parsnips on page 244.
Cauliflower with Tomato Sauce.—Boil or steam the cauliflower until tender. In another dish prepare a sauce with a pint of strained stewed smooth in a little water, and salted to taste. When the cauliflower is tender, dish, and pour over it the hot tomato sauce. If preferred, a tablespoonful of thick sweet cream may be added to the sauce before using.
Stewed Cauliflower.—Boil in as little water as possible, or steam until tender; separate into small portions, add milk, cream and salt to taste; stew together for a few minutes, and serve.
Scolloped Cauliflower.—Prepare the cauliflower, and steam or boil until tender. If boiled, use equal quantities of milk and water. Separate into bunches of equal size, place in a pudding dish, cover with a white or cream sauce, sprinkle with grated bread crumbs, and brown in the oven.
Description.—This plant is supposed to be a native of western Arabia. There are several varieties which are prepared and served as “greens.” Spinach is largely composed of water. It is considered a wholesome vegetable, with slightly laxative properties.
Preparation and Cooking.—Use only tender plants or the tender leaves of the older stalks, and be sure to have enough, as spinach shrinks greatly. A peck is not too much for a family of four or five. Pick it over very carefully, trim off the roots and decayed leaves, and all tough, stringy stalks, and the coarse fibers of the leaves, as those will not cook tender until the leaves are overdone. Wash in several waters, lifting grit. Shake each bunch well. Spinach is best cooked in its own juices; this may be best accomplished by cooking it in a double boiler, or if placed in a pot and slowly heated, it will however, be stirred frequently at first, to prevent burning; cover closely and cook until tender. The time required will vary from twenty minutes to half an hour or more. If water is used in the cooking, have a half kettleful boiling when the spinach is put in, and continue to boil rapidly until the leaves are perfectly tender; then drain in a colander, press with the back of a plate to extract all water, chop very fine, and either serve with lemon juice as a dressing, or add a half cup of sweet cream with or without a teaspoonful of sugar. Boil up once, stirring constantly, and serve very hot. A garnish of sliced boiled eggs is often employed with this vegetable.
Description.—The tomato, or “love apple,” as it was called in the early part of the century, is a native of South America and Mexico. It was formerly regarded as poisonous, and though often planted and prized as a curiosity in the flower garden, it has only within the last half century come to be considered as a wholesome article of diet. Botanically, it is allied to the potato. It is an acid fruit, largely composed of water, and hence of low nutritive value; but it is justly esteemed as a relish, and is very serviceable to the cook in the preparation of soups and various mixed dishes.
Preparation and Cooking.—Tomatoes to be served in an uncooked state should be perfectly ripe and fresh. The medium-sized, smooth ones are the best. To peel, pour scalding water over them; let them remain for half a minute, plunge into cold water, allow them to cool, when the skins can be easily rubbed off. Tomatoes should always be cooked in porcelain or granite ware; iron makes them look dark, and being slightly acid in character, they are not wholesome cooked in tin vessels.
Tomatoes require cooking a long time; one hour is needed, and two are better.
Baked Tomatoes.—Fill a pudding dish two thirds full of stewed tomatoes; season with salt, and sprinkle grated crumbs of good whole-wheat or Graham bread over it until the top looks dry. Brown in the oven, and serve with a cream dressing.
Baked Tomatoes No. 2. Wash and wipe a quantity of smooth, even-sized tomatoes; remove the stems with a sharp-pointed knife. Arrange on an earthen pudding or pie dish, and bake whole in a moderate oven. Serve with cream.
Scalloped Tomatoes.—Take a pint of stewed tomatoes, which have been rubbed through a colander, thicken with one and one fourth cups of lightly picked crumbs of Graham or whole-wheat bread, or a sufficient quantity to make it quite thick, add salt if desired, and a half cup of sweet cream, mix well, and bake for twenty minutes. Or, fill a pudding dish with alternate layers of peeled and sliced tomatoes and bread crumbs, letting the topmost layer be of tomatoes. Cover, and bake in a moderate oven for an hour or longer, according to depth. Uncover, and brown for ten or fifteen minutes.
Stewed Corn and Tomatoes.—Boil dried or fresh corn until perfectly tender, add to each cup of corn two cups of stewed, strained tomatoes, either canned or freshly cooked. Salt to taste, boil together for five or ten minutes, and serve plain or with a little cream added.
Tomato Gravy.—Heat to boiling one pint of strained stewed tomatoes, either canned or fresh, and thicken with a tablespoonful of flour rubbed smooth in a little water; add salt and when thickened, if desired, a half cup of hot cream. Boil together for a minute or two and serve at once.
Tomato Salad.—Select perfectly ripe tomatoes, and peel at least an hour before using. Slice, and place on ice or in a cool place. Serve plain or with lemon juice or sugar as preferred.
Tomato Salad No. 2.—Use one half small yellow tomatoes and one half red. Slice evenly and lay in the dish in alternate layers. Powder lightly with sugar, and turn over them a cupful of orange juice to a pint of tomato, or if preferred, the juice of lemons may be used instead. Set on ice and cool before serving.
Broiled Tomatoes.—Choose perfectly ripened but firm tomatoes of equal size. Place them on a wire broiler, and broil over glowing coals, from three to eight minutes, according to size, then turn and cook on the other side. Broil the stem end first. Serve hot with salt to season, and a little cream.
Tomato Pudding.—Fill an earthen pudding dish with alternate layers of stale bread and fresh tomatoes, peeled, sliced, and sprinkled lightly with sugar. Cover the dish and bake.
Stewed Tomatoes.—Peel and slice the tomatoes. Put them into a double boiler, without the addition of water, and stew for an hour or longer. When done, serve plain with a little sugar added, or season with salt and a tablespoonful of rather thick sweet cream to each pint of tomatoes. If the tomatoes are thin and very juicy, they may be thickened with a little flour rubbed smooth in a little cold water. They are much better, however, to stew a longer time until the water they contain is sufficiently evaporated to make them of the desired consistency. The stew may also be thickened, if desired, by the addition of bread crumbs, rice, or macaroni.
Tomato with Okra.—Wash the okra, cut off the stem and nibs, and slice thin. For a quart of sliced okra, peel and slice three large tomatoes. Stew the tomatoes for half an hour, then add the okra, and simmer together for half an hour longer. Season with salt and a little cream.
THE ART OF DINING
Human nature is so susceptible to externals, while good digestion is so dependent upon interior conditions, that all the accessories of pleasant surroundings—neatness, cheeriness, and good breeding—should be brought into requisition for the daily gathering of the family at mealtime. The dining room should be one of the airiest, choicest rooms in the house, with a pleasant outlook, and, if possible, with east windows, that the morning sun may gladden the breakfast hour with its cheering rays. Let plants, flowers, birds, and pictures have a place in its appointments, that the association with things bright and beautiful may help to set the keynote of our own lives in cheerful accord. A dark, gloomy, ill-ventilated room brings depression of spirits, and will make the most elaborate meal unsatisfactory; while the plainest meal may seem almost a feast when served amid attractive surroundings. Neatness is an important essential; any home, however humble, may possess cleanliness and order, and without these, all charms of wealth and art are of little account.
A thorough airing each morning and opening of the windows a few minutes after each meal to remove the odor of food, are important items in the care of the dining room. The furnishing may be simple and inexpensive,—beauty in a home is not dependent upon expense,—but let it be substantial, tasteful, harmonious in color and soft in tone, nothing gaudy or showy. Use no heavy draperies, and have no excess of ornament and bric-a-brac to catch dust and germs. A hard-finished wood floor is far superior to a carpet in point of healthfulness, and quite as economical and easy to keep clean. The general furnishing of the room, besides the dining table and chairs, should include a sideboard, upon which may be arranged the plate and glassware, with drawers for cutlery and table linen; also a side-table for extra dishes needed during the service of a meal.
An open fireplace, when it can be afforded, aids in ventilation as well as increases the cheerful aspect of the room.
A moveable china closet with glass encasements for keeping the daintier china, glass, or silver ware not in common use is often a desirable article of furniture in small homes; or a shallow closet may be built in the wall of the dining-room for this purpose. A good size for such a closet is twelve inches deep and three feet wide. Four shelves, with one or more drawers below, in which may be kept the best table napery, afford ample space in general. The appearance of the whole may be made very pleasing by using doors of glass, and filling in the back and sides of the shelves with velvet paper in dark-brown, dull-red, or any shade suitable for background, harmonizing with the general furnishing of the room. The shelves should be of the same material and have the same finish as the woodwork of the room. The upper side may be covered with felt if desired; and such artistic taste may be displayed in the arrangement of the china as to make the closet ornamental as well as convenient.
Table-Talk.—A sullen, silent meal is a direct promoter of dyspepsia. “Laugh and grow fat” is an ancient adage embodying good hygienic doctrine. It has long been well understood that food digests better when seasoned with agreeable conversation, and it is important that unpleasant topics should be avoided. Mealtime should not be made the occasion to discuss troubles, trials, and misfortunes, which rouse only gloomy thoughts, impair digestion, and leave one at the close of the meal worried and wearied rather than refreshed and strengthened. Let vexatious questions be banished from the family board. Fill the time with bright, sparkling conversation, but do not talk business or discuss neighborhood gossip. Do not let the food upon the table furnish the theme of conversation; neither praise nor apology are in good taste. Parents who make their food thus an especial topic of conversation are instilling into their children’s minds a notion that eating is the best part of life, whereas it is only a means to a higher end, and should be so considered. Of all family gatherings the meals should be the most genial and pleasant, and with a little effort they may be made most profitable to all. It is said of Dr. Franklin that he derived his peculiarly practical turn of mind from his father’s table talk.
Let themes of conversation be of general interest, in which all may take a part. If there are children, a pleasant custom for the breakfast hour is to have each in turn relate something new and instructive, that he or she has read or learned in the interval since the breakfast hour of the previous day. This stimulates thought and conversational power, while music, history, adventure, politics, and all the arts and sciences offer ample scope for securing interesting items.
Another excellent plan is the selection of a special topic for conversation for each meal or for the meals of a day or a week, a previous announcement of the topic being made, that all, even the youngest, may have time to prepare something to say of it. The benefits from such social intercourse around the board can hardly be over-estimated; and if thus the mealtime is prolonged, and too much appears to be taken out of the busy day, be sure it will add to their years in the end, by increasing health and happiness.
Table Manners.—Good breeding and true refinement are nowhere more apparent than in manners at table. These do not relate alone to the proper use of knife and fork, napkin and spoon, but to habits of punctuality, neatness, quietness, order, and that kind thoughtfulness and courteous attention which spring from the heart—”in honor preferring one another.” The purpose of eating should not be merely the appeasement of hunger or the gratification of the palate, but the acquiring of strength for labor or study, that we may be better fitted for usefulness in the world. Consequently, we should eat like responsible beings, and not like the lower orders of animals.
Good table manners cannot be put on for special occasions and laid aside like a garment. Persons not wont to observe the rules of politeness in the every-day life of their own households can never deceive others into thinking them well bred on “company” occasions. Ease and refinement of manners are only acquired by habitual practice, and parents should early accustom their children by both precept and example to observe the requirements of good behavior and politeness at table. Elaborate details are not necessary. We subjoin a few of the more simple rules governing table etiquette:—
- Eat slowly, never filling the mouth very full and avoiding all appearance of greediness.
- Masticate thoroughly, keeping the lips closed. Eating and drinking should be noiseless.
- Never speak with the mouth full, nor interrupt another when talking. Any remark worthy of utterance will keep.
- Do not express a choice for any particular portion or dish, unless requested to do so; and do not find fault with the food. If by chance anything unpleasant is found in it, do not call the attention of others to the fact by either remark or manner.
- Sit conveniently near the table, but not crowded up close against it; and keep the hands, when not in use to convey food to the mouth, in the lap, beneath the table, never resting upon the table, toying with knife, fork, or spoon.
- Do not tilt back your chair, or lean upon the table with the elbow, or drum with the fingers.
- It is contrary to good breeding to shovel one’s food into the mouth with a knife. Everything which can be eaten with a fork should be taken with that utensil alone. If necessary, use the knife for dividing the food, and afterward the fork to convey it to the mouth. Use a spoon for soups and juicy foods.
- Bread should be broken, not cut. In eating large fruits, like apples or pears, divide with a knife, and take in small portions, holding the knife by the handle rather than the blade.
- Soup is eaten from the side of the spoon, which is filled without noisily touching the plate.
- Seeds or stones to be rejected should be taken from the lips with a spoon, never with the fingers. The mouth should not go to the food, but the food to the mouth.
- Do not crumble food about your plate, nor in any avoidable way soil the table linen.
- Do not hang the napkin about the neck like a bib, but unfold and lay across the lap in such a manner that it will not slide to the floor. Carefully wipe the mouth before speaking, and as often at other times as may keep the lips perfectly clean of food and drink. At the close of a meal, if at home, fold the napkin neatly and place it in the ring. If at a hotel or away from home, leave the napkin unfolded by your plate.
- Do not appear impatient to be served, and ordinarily at the home meals wait until all are served before commencing to eat. At a public table where waiters are provided, it is proper to begin eating as soon as the food is served. This is admissible because the wants of other guests are supposed to be similarly looked after.
- Never reach across a neighbor’s plate for anything. If something beyond him is needed, ask to have it passed to you.
- Do not tilt your plate or scrape it for the last atom of food.
- Drink very sparingly, if at all, while eating, and then do not pour the liquid down the throat like water turned from a pitcher.
- Children should not be allowed to use their fingers to aid themselves in eating. If their hands are too small or too awkward to use a fork, a piece of bread or cracker may be held in the left hand to aid in pushing the food upon the fork or spoon.
- To help one’s self to butter or any other food from a common dish with one’s own knife or spoon is a gross breach of table etiquette.
- Never use the handkerchief unnecessarily at the table, and do not cough or sneeze if avoidable.
- It is not considered proper to pick the teeth at table. If this becomes absolutely necessary, a napkin should be held before the mouth.
- When a meal or course is finished, lay the knife and fork side by side upon the plate.
- Except at a hotel or boarding house, it is not proper to leave the table before the rest of the family or guests, without asking the hostess to excuse you.
- If a guest declines a dish, he need give no reason. “No, I thank you,” is quite sufficient. The host or hostess should not insist upon guests’ partaking of particular dishes, nor put anything upon their plates which they have declined.