Cooking is the preparation of food for the table by, dressing it or by the application of heat in some manner.
The processes of cooking include the preparation, selection, and changing of natural food products with the aid of the various kinds of heat or with the assistance of the various processes of fermentation or through the agency of different admixtures.
The reasons for cooking foods stated briefly are as follows:
1 To make the food attractive. Example - meats.
2 To make the food palatable. Example - eggs.
1 In a medium of dry heat.
2 In a medium of moist heat.
a Cooking by direct application of hot water boiling and stewing. b Cooking by direct application of steam - steaming, c Cooking by indirect contact with boiling water double boiler.
3 In a medium of hot fat.
Cooking by direct contact with hot fat.
a Frying, in a large amount of fat. b Sauteing, in a small amount of fat.
4 By direct contact with heated metal - Pan-broiling.
5 Cooking by means of a combination of moist air and dry air. (Stewing and baking.)
a Braizing and pot-roasting in a kettle.
b Casserole cookery in a covered casserole in oven.
6 Cooking by means of a combination of hot fat and hot water (frying and stewing) - Fricasseeing. The results of cooking foods are:
1 Physical. Examples - softening of cellulose, lique faction of gelatine.
2 Chemical. Examples - changes in starch, splitting up of fats, action of baking powder.
Success in cooking depends upon intelligent handling of materials and control of the cooking medium. It is as essential to know how to buy and how to prepare the food as it is to know how to cook it. Absolute cleanliness must be exercised in handling food and this can best be secured by orderly procedure in carrying on the work. Accuracy of measurement is the only means of securing uniform results. A complete knowledge of the stove and how to regulate it, is essential if the cook is to find joy in her work.
Good food materials must be used to secure good results. This does not mean that the foods of highest price must always be purchased but that everything used must be in good condition. Cheaper fats can often be substituted for butter when cooking. So long as such fats are fresh and of delicate flavor the resulting cooked dishes will be satisfactory. Though butter is very generally named as the fat to be used in the recipes, it is hoped that the housewife will often substitute cheaper fats that give satisfaction. Oleomargarine has long proved its usefulness as a fat to be relied upon in cooking and can well be substituted for butter in batters of all sorts. Lard and beef drippings can serve to replace butter in many bread and pastry recipes. It may be found necessary to alter the amount of fat used as the kind is varied.
The fireless cooker can advantageously be used for many of the longer processes of cooking. After the food has been well heated through and the cooking process has begun, the dishes may be placed in the fireless cooker to complete the cooking. For cereals and stews that require very long cooking the fireless cooker is a great aid to the housewife relieving her of the necessity of watching the cooking and at the same time economizing the amount of fuel used.