It is not my purpose to discourage the housewife by a list of culinary furniture.
The readers of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" may recall that Mr. St. Clair declared the evolution of irreproachable course dinners through such means as his negro cook employed in a smoky little kitchen with scanty store of pots and kettles - to be "nothing short of genius." I have, before now, visited kitchens environed with pot-closets, where hung a glittering assortment of every conceivable patented "indispensable" - and sat down in the dining-room to greasy, watery soups, scorched meats, soggy bread and curdled custards.
It is well to have a plentiful supply of tools. If there be not sense and skill behind them, failure is a foregone conclusion.
The object of this brief chapter is to tell our housemothers how to keep such pots and kettles, griddles and pans in working order, and how to make them last a reasonable time.
To begin with - get good ware. The clumsy iron vessels that gathered grime and soot over the fires kept up by our grand-dames have been pushed aside by lighter and cleaner utensils of various sorts. Coppers - that must be as bright outside as they were within, and gathered unto themselves murderous verdigris, if not cleaned before each using, with salt and scalding vinegar - were banished, and righteously, long ago, in favor of galvanized, porcelain, granite, agate-iron and nickel-steel-plated wares that neither rust nor green-mold. These wares are as easily kept clean as stone china, and if less durable than iron and copper that descended from mother to daughter and even down to the third generation, last reasonably well when properly handled.
Pots, kettles and the like should be set upon the range - not thumped and banged. A nicked cooking utensil is a disgrace to the handler thereof.
Cracks and scaling-off are still oftener the result of sudden overheating and of allowing an empty vessel to stand over the fire. The teakettle boils dry, the soup seethes and simmers until bones and meat stick to the bottom of the pot. To complete the wreck, the ignorant or indifferent cook snatches off the misused utensil and runs with it to the sink, turning the cold-water faucet upon the heated metal. Yet the mistress marvels at the semi-yearly necessity of replenishing kitchen tools!
Never put away a vessel which is not both clean and dry. Wash with hot water, good soap, and household ammonia. Use mop and soap-shaker, if you would spare your hands and do justice to bottoms, seams and sides of pot and pan. Rinse off the suds, wipe and set, upside down, upon the range for thirty seconds to make assurance doubly sure.
Hang up everything that furnishes the semblance of a loop by which it may be suspended. And always in its own place, so that you could find each in the dark.
Cover the shelves of the crockery closet with strips of scalloped oilcloth that come for the purpose, and the shelves on which you keep metal pie-plates and pans with stout paper, pinked at the edges.
Wooden ware should be scrubbed with a clean, stiff brush and soda-and-water, rinsed well, wiped and dried near the fire or in the open window.
Buy three qualities of dish-towels - the finest for glass, silver and china; the second best for crockery used in kitchen work; the third for heavy kettles, griddles, etc., and have them washed every day. Even when no grease adheres to them they have a musty odor if used several times without washing.
Rub gridirons and griddles with dry salt before each using, wiping it off with a clean towel.
Never undertake to polish your stove until it is quite cold, and do not rekindle the fire too soon when the polishing is done.
Next to the range, or stove, the sink is the most important feature of the kitchen.
"Let me see a woman's sink, and I will tell you what sort of a manager she is!" was the saying of a shrewd housemother who had seen much of life and of cooks.
The waste-pipe should he flushed every day when the water in the boiler is hottest. During the flushing two tablespoonfuls of strong ammonia should be poured down the grating over the waste. Once a week in summer add a handful of crushed washing-soda. And keep the sink, itself, clean all the time!
Grease should never accumulate upon the sides and in the corners; tea leaves and other debris never be clotted over the vent.
A stout whisk-brush must hang above the sink and be used freely in scrubbing it. When the whisk becomes stained and flabby, burn it up and get another. A dirty brush, mop or dishcloth makes - not removes - dirt.
Follow these directions, and if the outer drain-pipes are properly built, you will have no occasion to employ disinfectants and deodorizers.