This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
Most American housewives understand too little about the possibilities of cooking in the oven. The mind turns instantly to the casserole and the tougher cuts of meat, but these by no means exhaust the resources of the oven. There is no better way to make a chicken or other tender meat "go far" than en casserole; there is no more delicious way to cook fish, game, both dried and fresh vegetables, puddings, many cereals, and dried and fresh fruits, than in the oven.
There are many utensils adapted to oven cookery, the most familiar being those of earthenware, which can be obtained for almost any price, and in many desirable shapes and sizes. If these are plunged into a kettle of cold water, brought slowly to the boil, and then boiled for five minutes before using, they will give good service; otherwise, they are apt to crack. The old-time Boston bean pot is an excellent utensil for cooking meats which are cut in comparatively small pieces, as well as fruits and dried vegetables, while the old-fashioned blue-and-white stew-pot, which can be obtained in almost any size, is especially suitable for use in large families, and is inexpensive. Attractive utensils of this kind are made of the new cooking glass; they are durable and very practical. At the same time they are the most easily cleaned of all oven-ware and the cooking can be carried on in a fourth less time than usual.
Whereas it is necessary to use a covered casserole for all long processes, various open dishes are especially adapted to the cookery of quickly-prepared foods. An earthen or glass baking platter, for instance, makes possible the preparation, without odor, of fish and many meats and vegetables; nor do they need special attention after they are in the oven. As the food should be served in the dish in which it is cooked, this is a real saving in dish washing. The ramekin, little sister of the casserole, is not only inexpensive, but is particularly useful for individual service, not only of savory dishes and vegetables, but of desserts. The family may tire, for example, of creamed corn, but if it is combined with a little left-over veal or chicken, well-seasoned, strewed with bread crumbs, and served en ramekin, it becomes a "new dish." The youngsters may often rebel at such a plebeian dessert as bread pudding, but if prepared in ramekins with a little meringue, topped with currant jelly, it becomes "something new."
Most women seem to think that casserole cooking necessitates a great deal of trouble in preparation, and a long time in the oven. The time consumed depends entirely upon the article of food. Boston baked beans, for example, take about eight hours in a very slow oven; a three-and-a-half-pound chicken, cut as for fricassee, takes about an hour and a half in a moderate oven, but it needs no attention while cooking, and when it is removed is ready to be put on the table. If a coal stove is used, the oven is ready for a casserole dish at almost any time of the day. If gas, electricity or kerosene is burned, the oven can be made to do double duty if some other dishes, which need a like temperature, are prepared at the same time. To illustrate: If a casserole of lamb is to be served for a six-o'clock dinner, it would be put in at four o'clock, and a pan of baked apples, and the carrots, parsnips or other vegetables could be cooked along with it. As any casserole can be prepared in the morning for cooking for the evening dinner, or the day before if the dinner is at noon, this is a great preventive of last minute work.