Cooking is neither a mean, nor a simple art. To make the best and the most of everything connected with the sustenance of a family, requires not only industry and experience, but also considerable mental capacity, or at any rate, an aptness to learn.
One of the principal, if not the principal, requisite in a cook, is order - that faculty by which a person is enabled to keep all things in their prop* places. Without order there can be no cleanliness, another indispensable requisite in a cook: to be always cleaning, is not to be clean. There are some foolish, fussy women, who, with all the disposition on earth to be clean, not having order, dirty one thing as fast as they clean another. Nor is order an essential requisite, as regards the cleanliness of a kitchen, and of kitchen utensils only; in dressing food, without order there can be no good cooking.
We have said, that the mistress will take a part in a small family in the business of cooking. We, perhaps, should have rather said, ought to take a part; for we are sorry to say, that there is too much reason to believe, that good housewifery is much neglected in the educating of young ladies now-a-days. If a mistress be really not acquainted with the general principles of cooking, she ought to do one of two things - either to make herself acquainted with them as an humble learner, or to keep out of the kitchen altogether; for her ignorant interference with a good cook-maid will do no good, but may do a great deal of harm. And while on this subject we must give a word of friendly advice to the unfortunate cook, who may happen to fall in with an ignorant, irritable mistress. Let her take care to refrain from going into a passion with her: if the mistress scolds, let the maid be mild; and above all, let her not scold again, or answer in an angry or insulting manner. This is a hard thing to do, we are aware, particularly where a servant feels herself injured; but if she can do it, she will not only gain the victory over her mistress, but she will also feel a consciousness, a happy consciousness, of having left undone those things which she ought not to have done, and of having done those things which she ought to have done.
But if the tempers and habits of the mistress and maid are incompatible to that good understanding which ought always to subsist between the employer a.nd the employed, the best course for the servant to do is, to give notice and leave. Let not this, however, be done in anger: before giving warning, let her consult her pillow.
It has been well observed, that it behoves every person to be extremely careful whom she takes into her service; to be very minute in investigating the character she receives, and equally cautious and scrupulously just in giving one to others. Were this attended to, many bad people would be incapacitated for doing mischief, by abusing the trust reposed in them. It may be fairly asserted, that the robbery, or waste, which is but a milder epithet for the unfaithfulness of a servant, will be laid to the charge of that master or mistress, who knowing, or having well-founded suspicions, of such faults, is prevailed upon by false pity, or entreaty, to slide him, or her, into another place. There are, however, some who are unfortunately capricious, and often refuse to give a character, because they are displeased that a servant leaves their service; but this is unpardonable, and an absolute robbery; servants having no inheritance, and depending on their fair name for employment. To refuse countenance to the evil, and to encourage the good servant, are actions due to society at large; and such as are honest, frugal and attentive to their duties, should be liberally rewarded, which would encourage merit, and inspire servants with zeal to acquit themselves well.
Servants should always recollect that everything is provided for them, without care and anxiety on their part. They run no risks, are subject to no losses, and under these circumstances, honesty, industry, civility, and perseverance, are in the end sure to meet with their reward. Servants possessing these qualifications, by the blessing of God, must succeed. Servants should be kind and obliging to their fellow-servants; but if they are honest themselves, they will not connive at dishonesty in others. They who see crimes committed and do not discover them, are themselves legally and morally guilty. At the same time, however, well recollect, that tittle-tattling and tale-bearing, for the sake of getting in your mistress's good graces, at the expense of your fellow-servants, is, to the last degree, detestable. A sensible mistress will always discourage such practices.
We have known servants imagine, that because their employers are kind to them, that because they do not command them to do this or that, but rather solicit them, that, therefore, they cannot do without them, and instead of repaying their good-nature and humanity by gratitude and extra attention, give themselves airs, and become idle and neglectful. Such conduct cannot be too much condemned, and those servants who practise it may depend upon it, that, sooner or later, they will have cause to repent. Let it be remembered, that vice as well as virtue has its reward, though of a very different character.
We shall couclude this our friendly advice to young cooks, by an extract from the "Cook's Best Friend," by the late Dr. Kitchener. Nothing can be done in perfection, which must be done in a hurry, (except catching of fleas), - " Therefore," says the Doctor, " if you wish the dinner to be sent up to please your master and mistress, and do credit to yourself, be punctual; take care, that as soon as the clock strikes, the dinner-bell rings. This shows the establishment is orderly is extremely gratifying to the master and his guests, and is most praiseworthy in the attendants. But remember you cannot obtain this desirable reputation without good management in every respect; if you wish to ensure ease and independence in the latter part of your life, you must not be unwilling to pay the price for which only they can be obtained, and earn them by a diligent and faithful performance of the duties of your station in your young days, in which if you steadily persevere, you may depend upon ultimately receiving the reward your services deserve."
All duties are reciprocal; and if you hope to receive favour, endeavour to deserve it by showing yourself fond of obliging, and grateful when obliged. Such behaviour will win regard, and maintain it; enforce what is right, and excuse what is wrong.
Quiet, steady perseverance, is the only spring which you can safely depend upon infallibly to promote your progress on the road to independence.
If your employers do not immediately appear to be sensible of your endeavours to contribute your utmost to their comfort and interests, be not easily discouraged; persevere, and do all in your power to hake
Endeavour to promote the comfort of every individual in the family; let it be manifest that you are desirous to do rather more than is required of you, than less than your duty; they merit little who perform nothing more than what would be exacted. If you are desired to help in any business that may not strictly belong to your department, undertake it cheerfully, patiently and conscientiously.
The foregoing advice has been written with an honest desire to augment the comfort of those in the kichen, who will soon find, that the ever-cheering reflection of having done their duty to the utmost of their ability, is in itself, with a Christian spirit, a never-failing source of comfort in all circumstances and situations, and that
"Virtue is its own reward."