This section is from the book "A Book Of Recipes For The Cooking School", by Carrie Alberta Lyford. Also available from Amazon: A book of recipes for the cooking school.
Vegetables are cooked to soften the cellulose, to cook the starch, and to develop the flavor. Methods of cooking commonly employed for vegetables are boiling, steaming, baking and frying.
Prepare vegetables by washing thoroughly, with a small scrub brush, and paring or scraping, if the skins are to be removed. They are always better if the skin is not removed before cooking and if they are kept as nearly whole as possible. After paring put all vegetables into cold water until ready to cook, to keep them crisp and to prevent their being discolored. If withered let them stand in cold water for some time.
Cellulose forms the basis for the framework of all vegetables. In old or exceedingly large vegetables this cellulose may be very tough, hence longer cooking may be required. In most vegetables the cellulose is more coarse in one part of the vegetable than in the others. Cabbage has a coarse mid-rib of cellulose. Celery has strings of cellulose down the stalk. Carrots have a tough center of cellulose which becomes very hard in the old vegetable. Turnips have a heavy layer of cellulose on the outside.
Strong flavored vegetables (as turnips, onions, cabbage, and cauliflower) may be cooked uncovered in rapidly boiling water in order to drive off some of the odor and flavor.
Delicately-flavored vegetables (as spinach, asparagus, and green peas) are best if cooked uncovered, slowly, in a small amount of boiling water until the vegetable is tender and the water boils away.
Starchy vegetables (as potatoes, carrots and parsnips) should be cooked in a sufficiently large amount of boiling water to cover them. The water should boil gently and the kettle be kept covered.
Water should be kept boiling continuously while vegetables are cooking. If it is necessary to replenish water, boiling water should be added. When vegetables are partially cooked, add 1 teaspoonful salt to each quart of water. Cook until vegetable can be easily pierced with a fork.
All boiled vegetables should be drained well as soon as tender if an excess of water has been used. After cooking season with salt and pepper and serve hot with butter or white sauce.
When practicable it is better to steam than to boil vegetables, because there is less loss of food value. Put the vegetables on a plate in the steamer, cover closely, set over boiling water, and keep the water boiling steadily until the vegetables are tender.
Proportions for seasoning 1 cup vegetables are 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 tablespoon butter. Proportions for medium white sauce are 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour. 1 cup liquid, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper - sufficient for 2 cups cooked vegetables.
All dried vegetables should be soaked in cold water before cooking. Because of the large amount of tough skin on dried peas and beans both soaking and cooking may require several hours. If water contains much lime it does not soften them readily, hence it is sometimes desirable to add a little soda to the water to precipitate the lime.
Asparagus .......20-30 min.
Beans, lima ......1-1 1/2 hrs.
Beans, string .......1-3 hrs.
Beets, old..........3-4 hrs.
Beets, young .......3/4 -1 hr.
Carrots ............1/2 -l hr.
Cauliflower ......20-30 min.
Celery ...........20-30 min.
Collards ........20-30 min.
Corn, green......10-20 min.
Egg plant..........30 min.
Kale ............25-45 min.
Kohl Rabi ......30-50 min.
Mustard Greens . .30-45 min.
Okra ..............20 min.
Onions ..........45-60 min.
Parsnips ........30-45 min.
Peas, green......20-45 min.
Potatoes, sweet .... 20-30 min. Potatoes, white . 20-30 min. Salsify or oyster
plant .........45-60 min.
Spinach .........15-45 min.
Squash ..........20-30 min.
Swiss Chard.....30-40 min.
Tomatoes ..........1/2 -1 hr.
Turnips .........30-40 min.