The substitution of gas cookers in place of the kitchen coal range is much favoured nowadays, and the various makers of gas stoves have brought them to a very high standard of excellence. The use of gas instead of coal for cooking purposes has many distinct advantages in localities where it is obtainable at a reasonable rate.
The Advantages of Gas Cooking Stoves
1. They are economical, providing the gas is not used carelessly.
2. They are convenient; they can be lighted and extinguished instantly, and are always ready day or night.
3. They are cleanly, causing no dust or smoke, and utensils are kept clean.
4. They are easily managed, even by inexperienced workers.
5. Heat can be regulated with the greatest ease and certainty.
6. Time is saved, as there are no flues to clean, coals to carry, or stoking required.
7. Stoves can be hired at reasonable rates from the gas companies, and their broken or worn parts are replaced free of charge by the company.
8. Meat cooked in a gas oven loses less in weight than if cooked in a coal range.
In spite, however, of its many advantages, it must be remembered that gas dries and heats the air, consuming the necessary oxygen, while even a small escape produces harmful effects, and also, if neglected.serious explosions may result from it. Housewives can also vouch for the disastrous effects the sulphurous vapour has on silver, brass, leather, gilding, and plant life.
1. By using heavy iron utensils suitable for contact with flame and smoke, instead of those made of lighter metal, through which the heat can more easily penetrate.
Fig. I. A gas cooker. A. white enamel crown plate; B movable top bars; C. taps to boiling'rings; D. gridiron shelves in oven; E. solid shelf in oven; F. tap to oven supply pipe; C. dripping-tin in oven; H. gridiron and pan to place under toasting and grilling burner
2. By neglecting to turn off the gas-burners the instant the cooking is done, or to lower them when it is possible to reduce the heat.
3. By want of method and forethought in managing the cooking-i.e., instead of steaming potatoes over the saucepan in which a pudding is being boiled, a careless cook will boil both, thus using two gas burners instead of one.
4. By using soot-coated utensils; soot being a non-conductor of the heat, the consumption of gas will be increased. Also an unpleasant smell will be caused.
Points Needing Care 1. Have a strong iron length of flue piping fixed to the opening left for it on the side or back of the stove. Unless this is done the fumes from the meat, etc., cooking in the oven escape into the kitchen and house. The pipe can be carried out into the open air, or into some chimney.
2. Sometimes an objectionable smell may be noticed in a house where a gas stove is used. This may be caused either:
[a) Because the oven shelves, sides, door, etc., are dirty and greasy; (b) Because the gas has " lit back," as it is termed; that is, through some sudden draught, or banging the oven door, or applying the match the instant the tap is turned on, the gas has lit back in the air-chamber of the burner. The result is that the flame will be yellow, instead of bluish; there will be a peculiar roaring sound made by the gas; the burner will become blackened and sooty; there will be but little heat, and an unpleasant smell given off.
If the gas does light back, turn off the tap, or taps, turn them on again slowly, and allow a little gas to escape before applying the match. Sometimes it has to be re-lit several times for some reason or other.
To Choose a Gas Cooker
A thoroughly good stove should be double-cased, the space between being packed with non-heat conducting material. This prevents waste of heat and thereby discomfort in the kitchen. It should be so constructed as to afford every facility for boiling, baking, and grilling and toasting successfully, while all parts possible should be removable, so that it can be easily taken to pieces for cleaning purposes.
Fig. 2. The top of a gas cooker. showing the various burners. B. boiling-rings; C. simmering-ring; E. reversible burners for boiling or toasting and grilling
1. Lift off all the bars from the top. 2. Wash the top of the stove under the burners with hot soda water.
3. Clean the burners every now and then with an old brush dipped in paraffin if they are greasy.
Do not poke wire into the holes in the burners, as this enlarges them ana leads to an increased use of gas.
4. Wash bars with hot soda water, and polish them and the gas rings with blacklead, unless the bars are of steel, when they must be cleaned with emery paper.
5. Clean the brass taps and fittings.
6. Scrape and wash the shelves with hot soda and water.
7. Replace all the parts.
Special Hints on Gas Cooking
In addition to the above directions on the general management of gas cooking stoves, the following hints may be helpful.
The oven perhaps presents the greatest difficulty to the novice; she is apt to become confused as to the arrangement and use of its gridiron shelves, composed of horizontal bars, and the solid browning shelf, as it is usually termed.
It must be remembered that the solid shelf is used to throw down the heat on to the top of the meat, pastry, cake, etc., being cooked, and thus browning them.
Therefore, when a brown surface is required, put the solid shelf as close as possible over the food being cooked, without actually touching it, and at the same time leaving room for a possible rising of the cake, bread, etc.
When any food is browning too rapidly before it is cooked through, or it is required only slightly browned, place it above the browning shelf, or reduce the over heat by regulating the oven tap.
The following are a few examples:
A Rice Pudding.-put the pie-dish under the browning shelf, but not close under it, until the milk is boiling. Then put it above the browning shelf, as it needs slow cooking, and the surface is apt to colour very quickly.
Roasting a Joint.-if the joint is small enough, hang it, thick end upwards, on a meat-hook from one of the oven shelves, or on the cross-bar and hook supplied with the stove, with the browning shelf close over it.
The joint must hang downwards with its lowest part well above the level of the gas-burners. If the joint is too long, lay it flat on one of the gridiron shelves with the browning shelf close over it.
Meat shrinks with cooking, so there is no fear of it touching the shelf. If preferred, lay the joint on a trivet in a baking-tin, and place this tin on a grid shelf, but many advise no baking-tin, merely the bottom pan that slips in along the floor in the bottom of the stove under the burners. If this plan is adopted, see that the bottom pan is clean, or gravy and dripping will be spoilt.
If baking pastry and roasting at the same time, put the joint on a grid shelf below the pastry, and the browning shelf close above the pastry, as the latter needs a sharper heat than the meat.
After the meat is cooked it may be necessary to turn on more gas for a few minutes to finish browning the pastry.
Sometimes all the gridiron shelves are required; then put the browning shelf over all, but now and then it will be found necessary to move up the cakes, etc., from the second shelf to the first one nearer the browning shelf, in order to •acquire a better colour.
Another point often forgotten is that the oven will remain hot for some time after it has had the gas turned off. This heat can be utilised for baking custards, finishing the cooking of large cakes, milk puddings, etc., or, if there is no cooking to be done, put in a large vessel containing water to heat, to use for washing up after the meal is concluded.
Another way to reduce the waste of gas is, when grilling or toasting is being done, utilise the heat over the burner by boiling the kettle or some saucepan over it. It is extravagant to light another burner for boiling purposes when the griller is alight.