Common-sense must be exercised as to the locality which is selected wherein to look for clients. Dwellers in small flats or maisonettes are more likely to be glad to avail themselves of help like this than the occupiers of larger flats or houses, where it is necessary to keep servants, the cook generally being the most important of them all. Here outside help would be looked upon as an insult, excepting on the rare occasions when it is necessary, for some important dinner party, to call in the aid of the professional "chef."
No expensive outlay is required to start this work, the only necessities being clean linen aprons and cook's cuffs, and, most important of all, sufficient practical knowledge of cooking to satisfy an ordinary family, such, indeed, as most well-brought-up girls learn in their own homes nowadays.
Cleanliness, tidiness, and economy must be the rule both with the cooking and with the utensils used. All must be cleared up and put away for next time; nothing must be left for other people to clear up; this is of the utmost importance.
Arrangements must be made with the mistress each time, as to the next visit, and the cooking to be done then, so that everything may be purchased and ready, and no time wasted when the cook arrives by having to send out in a hurry for forgotten ingredients.
Upon arrival, start to work at once; never waste a minute of time for which other people are paying, or they will resent it, and be less inclined to employ you again.
Write a list of everything which is to be cooked, and see that all the necessary things are at hand.
Stocks and anything else requiring long cooking must be put on immediately; they can simmer whilst you are doing other things. When onions have to be cut up, do not handle them, but use a knife and fork, for fear of flavouring anything else you are touching, such as cakes, pastry, etc. To do various things in a short time, it is impossible to be too particular over such details.
Besides the fresh ingredients to be used, try to think out ways of making tasty dishes out of any food that remains in the larder. Use up everything, and let there be no waste whatever. This will make you and your work more valuable than if you were the "superior person" who can only use extravagant and expensive materials.
Thought and discretion must be exercised in the choice of the dishes to be kept longest, avoiding ingredients which do not keep well. In the summer months still more care must be used, especially as small flats seldom have good or cool larders.
It is important to find out as soon as possible where everything is kept which you are likely to want, so as to avoid worrying the mistress, who will probably be busy over something else. Learn to depend entirely on yourself and on your own resources, and never expect to be waited upon. Self-reliant, useful people are the ones who are wanted, and who can generally find work all the world over.
Besides regular daily work, which is more satisfactory to depend upon for a living, there is the possibility of working up a connection for special work, such as cooking for small luncheon or dinner parties. This would give the chance of displaying more elaborate capabilities and advertising your work to a larger circle. People living in quite a small way would be glad to entertain their friends more often if it were made easier for them to do so by the aid of a " visiting cook"; but the effort of thinking out and preparing a little luncheon or dinner party, and cooking it herself or superintending an inefficient maid or charwoman while she probably spoils it, takes away all the pleasure from the hostess, and leaves her a tired and weary woman, with an uneasy mind and anxious eye as each course makes its appearance upon the table. How gladly she would have paid someone else to take the responsibility and work off her shoulders, and so left her time and energy to enjoy her party and her friends' society.
In these cases, of course, the cook must stay in the kitchen and dish up each course and send it in to table herself. It would be a mistake to take all the trouble over its preparation and cooking, and then run the risk of having all spoilt by careless serving.
Even an insignificant dish can be made tempting by the way it is served, and this should be one of a cook's chief studies.
A class might be started for children, say, from four to eight years old, to keep them out of their mother's way in the busy hours of the morning, to teach them discipline, and prepare them for an ordinary school at the usual age of eight.
To the conscientious teacher it will be anxious but interesting work, for it is in these early years that the character can be most easily moulded, and that a firm and good influence will help these little people through life. Bad habits can be corrected now, good ones encouraged, and the important principles of truth and honour instilled in their games and every little action.
The school hours should be from 9.30 to 12.30 every morning (Saturdays, of course, excepted). Strict punctuality must be insisted upon.
The object of the instructor should be to teach the children to read, write, and do little addition and subtraction sums, but the pathway to this happy state will be tedious for both teacher and the children, unless it is paved with many interests.
There should be a break at eleven o'clock for half an hour for play and lunch, which must be brought from home. This relaxation is good for them and for the teacher.
A time-table may be drawn up somewhat on the following lines :
9.30 to 10
10 to 10.30
10.30 to 11
11 to 11.30
Luncheon (out of doors, if possible).
11.30 to 12
Drawing, modelling, or poetry, on alternate days.
12 to 12.30
Sewing, singing, musical drill or physical exer-cises, on alternate days.
Writing should consist of learning to form each letter correctly, and so on by degrees to writing little words.
Reading should be taught in the same way, first the letters and then little words of two letters, and so on.
Arithmetic lessons can be greatly assisted by the help of the bead frame; let the little ones count and add by moving the beads for themselves; let them also learn to make figures and add them together and subtract.
Very simple little drawing - books are published, fit for tiny beginners; straight lines, curves, and outlines of animals and objects will interest them for a long time.
Short verses from nursery rhymes will be found the most suitable poetry to teach them, especially if there are pictures to show them to match the verses; memory is impressed more by objects seen than read about.
The singing lessons should also consist of learning to sing nursery rhymes or other little songs with a story in them.
The sewing lessons can be varied by devoting some days to plain sewing and others to wool-work, crochet, knitting, etc. Even little boys like wool-work and crocheting, and, for their sakes particularly, a modelling class once a week would be a very good thing. Plasticine is an extremely useful material for children to use, being clean, harmless, and easily manipulated; and with very little practice they soon learn to model various objects. The plasticine can be used over and over again.
Half an hour will be found long enough for any one subject; very young children soon tire, and their attention wanders, but before they get to this stage the next class will be due, and a fresh subject will revive their interest.
It will be seen by the suggested time-table that reading, writing, and arithmetic come every day, and by getting these done in the first hour and a half, the real work will be accomplished before the children get tired; then comes the half-hour break, followed by one more hour of school, which is devoted to various classes designed to amuse them or help them to amuse themselves when at home.
The fees must necessarily be very moderate, or the parents may think that a nursery governess would be more profitable, especially if there are two or three pupils in the same family. A guinea per term for each pupil would be a fair charge, whether the class is held in the teacher's own house or she goes to the children's own home. The former would be more profitable, as more pupils could be taken.
It is well to limit the number of pupils to twelve, unless the teacher finds herself capable of managing more satisfactorily, for if it becomes necessary to engage an assistant, the question of salary comes in, and the profits diminish accordingly.
Twelve pupils at a guinea each per term means thirty-seven pounds and sixteen shillings per year, there being three terms in the year. This is not a large sum, but it means only three hours' work each day for five mornings in the week, leaving the rest of the day and the whole of Saturday free for other work if necessary. There are also, as a rule, three months' holiday in the year.