Pick over, trim off the roots and decayed leaves; wash thoroughly, lifting the spinach from one pan of water into another, that the sand may be left in the water, and changing the water until it is clear. Put the spinach in a large kettle without water. Place it on the stove where it will cook slowly until the juice is drawn out, then boil until tender. Drain and chop fine. For half a peck of spinach add one large tablespoon/id of butter, half a tea-spoonful of salt, and a quarter of a saltspoonful of pepper; or add a little thin cream sauce. Heat again and serve on toast. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs and toast points, or serve cold with French dressing.
Spinach is nearly all water, and a smaller portion of the potash salts - its most valuable constituent - is lost when it is cooked in its own juices.
The leaves and stalks of young beets, milkweed, dandelions, and narrow dock are useful as food in the early spring, chiefly for the water and alkaline salts which they contain. They should be picked over, and washed carefully, cooked in boiling salted water until tender, then drained, and seasoned with butter and salt. Vinegar is often used with them as a desirable condiment. Many people consider it necessary to boil a piece of salt pork with greens, but they are more wholesome when seasoned with butter. Dandelions should be cooked in plenty of water; but other tender greens may be cooked, like spinach, in their own juices.
Wash carefully and break (not cut) into inch pieces as far as each stalk can be broken. When it will not snap off quickly, the stalk is too tough to be used. Cook in boiling salted water, deep enough to cover, for fifteen minutes, or until tender. When the asparagus is not fresh and tender, it is well to boil the hardest part first, and add the tender heads after ten minutes. Drain, season with butter and salt, or pour white sauce over it, and serve on toast. Many people prefer to leave the stalks whole, and tie them into bundles before boiling. When served in this way, unless all the tough part be broken off before cooking, it is inconvenient, if not impossible, to cut the stalk afterward.
Peas are fresh when the pods are green, crisp, and plump. The fresh pods are sweet, and full of flavor. Wash the pods before shelling, then the peas will require no washing. Put the peas into a colander, and sift out the fine particles. Boil the pods ten minutes, skim them out, and add the peas. Boil fifteen minutes, or till tender. When nearly done, add the salt. Let the water boil nearly away, and serve without draining, except when the peas are to be served as a garnish. Season with butter, cream, salt, and a little sugar.
Old peas should be cooked until tender, drained, mashed, and rubbed through a sieve, and served as a vegetable or made into a puree.
Peas are nutritious, but they are indigestible unless the hull be broken before they are swallowed.