It is probable that paper-bag cookery will prove to be of far more service in food reform cookery even than in meat cookery.
One reason is that this method preserves the delicious flavours and juices of the vegetables and entrees, and adds considerably to their attractiveness and digestibility. For too often - through want of knowledge and want of care - food reform dishes are flavourless, unattractive, and indigestible.
In the meatless dishes that have been cooked in paper bags the flavours are delicious, and this because all the valuable juices and "salts" have been conserved.
Now, the conserving of the juices and valuable "salts" of vegetables and fruits, etc., in meatless dishes only does good, not harm, to those who partake of them. For those especially who suffer from "uric acid" troubles, such as gout or rheumatism, fresh vegetables, fruits, and certain meatless dishes cooked in paper bags, are most valuable and healthy, for the very reason that their juices and curative properties have been conserved.
There are many advantages to be found in this style of cookery. For instance, there is very little need of skill. The paper-bag dishes which are placed inside the oven cook themselves without any external aid from the cook. For, once inside the oven, the paper bags must be left entirely to themselves. It is only a matter of having the right temperature, and knowing the right time in which to cook the various dishes. It must be remembered that everything cooks much more quickly inside the paper bags than in the usual gas oven or in an ordinary oven.
One of the advantages is that there is no smell. Even a cabbage cooked in a paper bag gives forth no disagreeable "cabbage odour"; and the juice from it is most delicious and healthy to drink, or it can be made into a thick, nourishing sauce, and poured over the cabbage. This applies to most other vegetables cooked by this method.
Another advantage is that there is need for fewer vessels and less cleaning, and therefore less labour is involved. The cook must always be provided with an empty pail or paper-basket in which to throw the paper bags after the dishes have been taken out of them; otherwise, the kitchen table would get very greasy and look very untidy.
The methods of cooking in paper bags are quite easy, and are as follows.
The bag must first be well greased inside and out, preferably with the best oil or vegetable butter.
The oven must be well heated before anything is put into it. The temperature should be at least 2000 Fahr. In the case of a gas oven the gas-jets should be turned down rather low when the paper, bags are placed inside; and the bags should be placed well away from the gas-jets, lest they take fire.
The bags must then be placed on a grid shelf or a wire trivet, or in an ordinary baking-tin, in the oven.
For some dishes it is best to put the paper bag inside a fireproof dish or casserole. This applies specially to a dish - for instance, an egg-dish - in which a certain shape has to be kept intact.
To safeguard the juices from leaking out, the corners of the bag must be well turned up. Close the bag by folding over the top (open end) several times, and then fasten it with one or two ordinary paper clips.
Those who do not possess an oven thermometer can gauge the heat by throwing a little flour into the oven. If it browns at once, the oven is of the right heat.