Where there is a large amount of cooking to be done, the ashes should be cleared from under the slides of the ovens as often as twice a week in large or small families; this will insure the oven to bake well, and always the same, if the fire is properly arranged.
Never on any account use coal-oil to make the fire burn more quickly. In making the fire, as soft wood burns more quickly than hard, it is better to have some with which to start it, filling up with hard wood. If the wood is good and properly placed you will have a bright clear flame, yielding a great amount of heat which should be utilized for cooking purposes, by so arranging the draught that none of it is wasted. This can only be done by one who so perfectly understands each part of it as to economize in the use of fuel. The fire needs constant attention, as it is poor economy to let the fire go partially out, as in adding fresh fuel the heat is wasted until the stove and oven are again heated to the right temperature for cooking.
Fill the tea-kettle full of water and place on the stove, and if the fire is good it will boil soon enough for use, and every time water is used, add cold, so as to keep the supply good. The habit is almost universal to put a small quantity of water in the tea-kettle, aiming to have just enough for certain things, and if an extra demand occurs the kettle is empty, the fire is out, and the delay occasions no little trouble to both cook and mistress. When water has been made to boil no matter what is cooking in it, the fire may be very much lessened, as but little heat is required to keep it boiling. Rapid boiling does not hasten cooking, and the articles cooked are much better when boiled slowly.
For general use copper and brass cooking utensils are not the best, because of the great care necessary to keep them clean and free from poisonous-deposits, a work that can never be trusted to servants. Care should be used in cooking in tin vessels, as they are liable to be affected by acids, oils and salt, but not to the same extent as copper. For all ordinary cooking pnrposes, if tin vessels are kept clean and free from rust, no injury will result. A little whiting or dry flour may be used to polish tin with. If a kettle is to be used for cooking fish, heat it first over the fire; if an odor arises, it needs cleaning as above, before using. If the same gridiron has to be used for broiling steak, that has been used for fish, in addition to cleaning it as above, heat it over the fire, rub well with brown paper, then with an onion. In washing tin ware use soft water and soap, and wash well, rinse with hot water, wipe well, and put on the hearth or stove to dry perfectly; once a week wash tin-ware in water in which a little sal-soda has been dissolved; take the suds for the pots and kettles (if not hot add more hot water), and wash and rinse thoroughly on the inside. To wash the outside of pots, kettles and all iron ware, place in a tub or large dish-pan, and with soap on cloth, rub them briskly and hard; if necessary scrape with an iron spoon or old knife to get all dirt off, rinse in hot water, wipe, and place on stove to dry. If kept scrupulously clean, oysters, tomatoes, and even some delicacies that are usually cooked in porcelain and granite ware, may be cooked nicely in iron.
Enameled ware may be cleansed by filling the vessel with hot water, with soda dissolved in it - one ounce to a gallon; let it boil twenty minutes; then if the stain does not all come off, scour with fine sand or brick dust; rinse well with hot water and wipe dry. If by carelessness or accident, while making chow-chow, or any thing else, it becomes burned on the porcelain kettle, empty immediately, fill with water, put in about pint of wood-ashes to two gallons of water, let it boil twenty or thirty minutes; clean with sand or brick-dust as above, if it does not all come off. In either case, if unsuccessful the first time, repeat. To clean a brown porcelain kettle, boil peeled potatoes in it. The porcelain will be rendered nearly as white as when new.
To clean silver or plated ware, wash in clean hot water or lay in hot soda water a few minutes; then wipe dry with a canton flannel cloth, and polish with chamois skin. If silver powder is used for cleaning tarnished spots, care must be taken to brush out all the dust from the chased work on the plate. In the daily use of silver, wash in clean hot water and wipe dry with a canton flannel cloth. Never use soap in washing silver.
Steel knives and forks are best cleaned by being scoured with bath brick, but some good "kitchen maids" always use the common brick pulverized, with good success. Have a properly made knife-box, with board extending, on which to lay the knife to scour, wet a cloth in hot water or soft soap and water, dip in the dust which has been previously shaved off; then rub briskly and hard until all spots are removed; wash and rinse in clean, hot water and wipe dry. Never put a knife in hot fat, as it destroys the temper, and the knife is useless.
The sink comes in for special notice. Wash it daily with soap and water, rinse with clean boiling water, always rinsing with hot water after pouring suds into it. This can not be insisted on too strongly, because of such great importance in the cleanliness of the kitchen. The old adage, "A time for every thing," applies here. On Mondays and Thursdays, during summer, pour hot water, containing a little chloride of lime, into the drains, and every Monday in winter. This will prevent all unpleasant or unhealthy odors. The use of soda in cleansing our wares greatly diminishes the quantity of soap needed. As a general thing, too much soap is used in washing dishes. Many good housekeepers do not allow soap used in washing dishes at all, except to clean tin and iron ware, dish cloths and sink. In cleaning an unpainted kitchen floor, if there are spots of grease on it, put some soft-soap (or lye, if to be had) in a tin-cup, kept for the purpose; place on the stove until boiling hot; then pour a little on each spot and scour with ashes; wash the floor with soft hot water, rinse well, and, if the grease is not out the first time, try it again when the floor needs cleaning. Always remember to rinse thoroughly, changing the water when it becomes too dirty. In cleaning floors, tables, or wood-work, remember to rub always with, and not across, the grain of the wood.