No more of any article for consumption should be purchased than necessary for the number constituting the family Many things for the table are excessively dear in certain seasons. It is very improvident to buy such articles out of season. Rather bring into use what is more readily procurable, by varying the manner of cooking it, serving it up in different styles. That is the variety that will give the most satisfaction, and even if there is not so lavish an outlay, health and contentment will be certain to reward the effort. The art of cookery is a high-sounding phrase to some, and yet it means merely the exercise of a little taste and judgment, the putting together of what materials one has with good results.
Economy may at first be hard to learn, but it is valuable. When the housewife acquires the habit of making the best use of all she possesses, she will then be economical without being stingy, liberal without wasting, and will learn how to provide a frugal table with frequent changes far more agreeable to the taste than expensive ones, and a sameness in the articles served.
The tendency to waste is more likely to occur in small families where the mistress of the home is at a loss to know what to do with the small portions left over from various meals, than in large families where the odds and ends can be used for next day's meals. In large cities, the utilizing of such fragments is not so grave a matter, for there are plenty of wandering travelers who will accept them gladly; in smaller towns, where the poor are fewer, the question is more serious. The article most frequently wasted is bread, every crumb of which should be saved. It can be converted into toast or placed in the oven to dry. When dry it can be grated coarsely and put into wide-mouthed covered jars for puddings, stuffings, or thickening for meat gravies. Other pieces not large enough for toast, can be converted into griddle cakes. Then there is the bread pudding, and if the children, or the older members of the family, grow tired of the economical bread pudding with lemon sauce, try the same in custard cups with raisins for fruit. Butter the cups, fill, and then bake them, standing in a pan of hot water. Cover each one with a teaspoon of bright-colored jelly and to the family it will no longer be a simple bread pudding, but a rich new dish, to be eaten with cream.
Odds And Ends.
The bones of a roast can be cracked and put into the bean soup, giving it a nice flavor. Cold roast beef can be sliced thin and warmed over in its own gravy for a breakfast or luncheon dish. Some turn it into hash, but cold corned beef, after it has been sliced one or twice for tea, makes the best hash. If you like, you can chop cold cabbage and cold beets that have not been in vinegar, with the potatoes and meat, and a dish that any one should enjoy will be the result. If you chance to have no cold vegetables, chop the corned beef very fine, fry and lay it over dry toast in a platter, after first pouring a spoonful of boiling water upon the toast, to moisten it.
Scraps of ham can be chopped, bread-crumbs added, a little butter and some of the fat; then make layers of ham and bread, set it in the oven, and you have escalloped ham.
The proper care and use of drippings, as well as of the fat cut from the edge of steaks, should be known and practiced by all housekeepers. For frying purposes they are more wholesome than lard, many persons who are unable to partake of food fried in the latter find no trouble with the use of the former; besides, the drippings do not spatter from the pan as does lard, and are, therefore, more desirable on the score of cleanliness. For frying fish, potatoes, and such food as does not require butter, they will be found very satisfactory. To clarify drippings pour on boiling water, stir thoroughly and set aside until the following day, then put into a saucepan with boiling water and a little salt and allow to simmer slowly, skimming well until the water has evaporated; strain into an earthen vessel and keep covered. If the work has been well done so as to remove the water and all impurities, it will keep for weeks. Turkey and chicken fat can be saved for making soup.
Potted meats can be made of fragments cut from the bone, pounded in a mortar and seasoned; they make fine canapes for luncheon. The tough ends of steaks can be chopped and made into Hamburg steak or cornish pastry; the recipe is in this book.
Potatoes left over are capable of so many ways of re-serving that it is almost unnecessary to mention them. They reappear in potato cakes, in hash, in soups, and in many other forms.
Egg-shells are useful for clearing soups, jellies and coffee. Soft-boiled eggs left over can be reboiled, and when hard, take their place in garnishing, in salads, in pressed meats, and on toast. The canary never objects to a tiny taste. Cold fried or scrambled eggs need not be wasted but chopped and mixed with mince meat to make excellent stuffed rolls. If eggs are required for the white alone, save the yolks in a cup, wet a cloth, place it over them, and keep in a cold place till wanted.
Oatmeal and other cereals, left over, answer well to be added to that made fresh the next day, or they can be fried for breakfast and eaten with maple syrup.
Vegetables left over may go into the soup designed for next day's dinner. Canned fruits should be watched; if they show signs of working they should be stewed at once. Apple parings and pulps that are sound need not be thrown away. Stew to a pulp, strain and sweeten and you have apple butter, peach butter and excellent filling for tarts.
Cold rice is easily made into a pudding, into croquettes, or better still, is fine as a thickening for broth.
If ice is not obtainable set milk in a cold place or boil to keep it sweet. Flour and meal must be kept covered, and tea and coffee are best preserved in closed canisters. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch to each pint of salt, mix well and you will not be troubled by salt clogging or becoming damp. Butter keeps best in stone jars, bread and cake retain their freshness in tin.
Apples should remain out of doors in barrels until too cool for them. When brought in, set in a dry room, until the weather requires their being put into the cellar. A linen cloth laid over the barrel will keep them from frost till very cold weather. Many prefer not to head up the barrels of apples. There is an advantage in being able to pick them over several times in the course of winter, as one defective apple injures all its neighbors. If moist, wipe them.
Herbs should be gathered when just beginning to blossom; they are then in their perfection. Medicinal herbs should be dried, put up into paper bags and labeled. Those used in cooking should be pounded, sifted and put into labeled boxes or bottles. They retain their virtues best dried by artificial heat. The warmth of an oven a few hours after the bread is drawn is sufficient.
If in making pies a few scraps of dough are left, gather them in a mass, roll them out thin, cut them into fancy shapes, prick them with a fork, and bake in a quick oven. Make into tarts or sift fine sugar upon them and arrange round a dish of stewed fruit.