A complete list of kitchen utensils is not given in this work, as the variety and number needed will be largely determined by circumstances. There are several utensils, which are not perhaps in general use, which lessen the labor of cooking, and add much to the attractiveness of food prepared by their aid.
There is nothing that makes so much difference between ordinary and delicate cooking as a set of strainers. There should be one of very fine wire for sifting soda, spices, etc., and for straining custards and jellies; others with meshes from one sixteenth to one eighth of an inch in diameter; also a squash strainer and a colander. Extension wire strainers are very convenient. Keep also a supply of strainer cloths, made from coarse crash or cheese cloth, and fine napkin linen.
A set of oval tin moulds, a melon mould, and one or two fancy moulds are convenient for entrees, puddings, and jellies.
Other useful articles are Dover egg-beaters, large and small; ordinary small wooden spoons and the larger perforated ones; a whip churn; granite saucepans and stew-pans, holding from half a pint to six quarts; double boilers; a wire basket for frying; a potato slicer; a fine wire broiler for toast, and two coarser ones for steak and fish; a set of pastry bags and frosting tubes; fancy vegetable cutters; a glass rolling-pin; and, above all, a small sharp-pointed knife, made from the best steel, for paring potatoes, turnips, etc., and a set of tin measuring-cups holding half a pint, and divided into quarters and thirds.
It is a mistake to have many large, unwieldy dishes. Small saucepans and small bowls are more convenient, and granite or agate ware is much lighter to handle and more easily kept clean than ironware. Buckets are convenient for keeping sugar and small quantities of flour. Glass jars or wide-mouthed bottles are best for nearly all groceries, such as rice, tapioca, meal, raisins, etc. They are easily cleansed, and the contents are plainly seen. They may be kept air-tight, or, if that be unnecessary, old jars not suitable for canning may be utilized.
A refrigerator should be examined daily and kept thoroughly clean. If a suitable brush cannot be had, a long stiff wire with a bit of cloth on the end should be used to clean the drain pipe. Four boiling washing-soda water through it every other day, and do not forget to wash off the slime that adheres to the water pan. Fish, onions, cheese, any strong vegetables, lemons, or meat not perfectly sweet, should not be kept in the same ice-box with milk or butter.
Do not become wedded to the idea that dishes can only be washed in a sink. If your pantry or cookroom be some distance from your sink, and have a broad shelf or table in it, take your dishpan to the pantry, wash and wipe your dishes there, and in this way save a few of the unnecessary steps which soon amount to miles with many weary housekeepers.
Never wash a bread-board in an iron sink. The iron will leave a black mark on the board, which it is difficult to remove. Wash the board on the table where you have used it; use cold water, and scrub occasionally with sand soap. In scraping dough from the board, scrape with the grain of the wood, and hold the knife in a slanting direction, to prevent roughening the surface of the board. Wash, and wipe dry, and never let dough accumulate in the cracks. Have one board for bread and pastry, and keep it smooth. Use a smaller board for rolling crumbs and pounding ana cleaning meat and fish.
A Dover egg-beater should never be left to soak in water, as the oil will be washed out of the gears and the beater be hard to turn; or, if used again before it be dry, the oil and water will spatter into the beaten mixture. Use it with clean hands, and then the handle will require no washing. Wipe the wires with a damp cloth immediately after using, dry thoroughly, and keep it well oiled.
All dishes should be scraped before washing. A small wooden knife is best for this purpose. Bread and cake bowls, or any dishes in which flour or eggs have been used, are more easily cleaned if placed in cold water after using, or washed immediately.
Clear up as you work: it takes but a moment then, and saves much time and fatigue afterward.
Never put pans and kettles half filled with water on the stove to soak. It only hardens whatever may have ad- hered to the kettle, and makes it much more difficult to clean. Keep them full of cold water, and soak them away from the heat.
Kitchen knives and forks should never be placed in the dish water. Many err in thinking it is only the handles which should not be wet. The practice of putting the blades into a pitcher of very hot water is wrong, as the sudden expansion of the steel by the heat causes the handles to crack. Keep the knives out of the water, but wash thoroughly with the dishcloth, rub them with mineral soap or brick dust, and wipe them dry. Keep them bright, and sharpen often on a sandstone. The disadvantage and vexation of dull tools would be avoided if every woman would learn to use a whetstone, and where and when to apply a little oil.
Milk will sour quickly if put into dishes which have not been scalded. They should first be washed in clear cold water, then in hot soapy water, then rinsed in clear boiling water, and wiped with a dry fresh towel. Do not forget to scrape the seams and grooves of a double boiler.
Ironware should be washed, outside as well as inside, in hot soapy water, rinsed in clean hot water, and wiped dry, not with the dishcloth, but with a dry towel. Dripping-I pans, Scotch bowls, and other greasy dishes should be scraped, and wiped with soft paper, which will absorb the grease. The paper will be found useful in kindling the fire, and is a great saving of water, which is sometimes an object. A tablespoonful of soda added to the water will facilitate the cleaning.
Kitchen mineral soap or pumice stone may be used freely on all dishes. It will remove the stains from white knife handles, the brown substance that adheres to earthen or tin baking-dishes, and the soot which collects on pans and kettles used over a wood or kerosene fire. Tins should be washed in clean, hot soapy water. Rub them frequently with mineral soap, and they may be kept as bright as when new. Saucepans and other tin or granite dishes browned by use may be cleaned by letting them remain half an hour in boiling soda water, then rubbing with a wire dishcloth or stiff brush.
A new tin coffee-pot, if never washed on the inside with soap, may be kept much sweeter. Wash the outside, and rinse the inside thoroughly with clear water. Then put it on the stove to dry, and when dry rub the inside well with a clean, dry cloth. All the brown sediment may be wiped off in that way, but a soapy dishcloth should never be put inside.
Keep a granite pan near the sink to use in washing vegetables, and use the hand basin only for its legitimate purpose. Pare vegetables into the pan, and not into the sink. A strainer or any old quart tin pan with small holes in the bottom is a great help in keeping a sink clean. Pour the coffee and tea grounds, the dish water, and everything that is turned into the sink through the strainer first, and then empty the contents of the strainer into the refuse pail.
Never use a ragged or linty dishcloth. The lint collects round the sink spout, and often causes a serious obstruction. A dish mop is best for cups and cleanest dishes, but a strong linen cloth should be used for everything which requires hard rubbing. Wash the sink thoroughly, flush the drainpipe often with hot suds or soda water, wipe dry, and rub with a greased cloth or with kerosene. Keep it greased if you wish to prevent its rusting.