This section is from the "The New Home Cook Book" book, by Ladies Of Chicago Et Al. Also available from Amazon: The Home Cook Book: Tried, Tested, Proved.
What does cookery mean ? It means the knowledge of all fruits and herbs and balms and spices, and of all that is healing and sweet in fields and groves, and savory in meats. It means carefulness, and inventiveness, and watchfulness, and willingness, and readiness of appliance. It means the economy of your great grandmother and the science of modern chemists. It means much tasting and no wasting; it means English thoroughness, and French art, and Arabian hospitality; and it means, in fine, that you are to be perfectly and always ladies - loaf givers; and as you are to see imperatively that everybody has something pretty to put on, so you are to see even yet more imperatively that everybody has something nice to eat. - Ruskin.
It is a matter of great convenience to have a covered tub or pail of sifted flour ready for use. It will save half the time in an emergency.
Always sift soda, when not dissolved in hot water, through a fine wire sieve.
Sugar for fried cakes should be dissolved in the milk, to prevent the cake from absorbing the lard while frying.
Two kinds of coffee mixed, (Java and Mocha,) are better than one alone ; but should be browned separately.
Tea should never be boiled, but be sure that the water boils that you use for steeping. From three to five minutes is sufficient time; if it stands longer the tea is apt to lose its aroma and have the bitter taste of the leaf.
An old housekeeper of fifty years' experience thinks the very best way of making coffee, is to use the National Pot, no egg; nothing to settle is -required, simply use a muslin bag and let the water boil around it ten or fifteen minutes. A very important advantage is, that none of the aroma is lost by standing. If the "gude mon" of the home is late to breakfast, his coffee is just as nice and hot as when first made.
When bread is like a honey comb all through, is the time to make it up in loaves. When the [loaves do not retain the dent of the finger, it is ready for the oven.
When meats are put in to roast, have no water in the pan. When they begin to brown is time enough for water.
Chicken for salad is nicer cut with a knife than chopped in a bowl, and the celery should always be cut with a knife.
If you would be a true economist, do not burn letters, envelopes, etc., but tear them across once or twice, and put them in the scrap bag for the rag man.
A silver spoon put into a glass jar, will temper it so that it can at once be filled with anything hot, even to the boiling point.
Marion Harland says that putting old and new milk into cake will have a tendency to injure the quality of the cake.
A caution is given by an excellent authority not to put glass goblets that have held milk, into hot water, as this causes the milk to penetrate the glass and can never be removed.
In furnishing your house, have conveniences for putting away food for preservation. The greatest of the many advantages to be derived from modern cookery are the many palatable dishes which can be made with the remains of cold meat, a few bread crumbs, combined with other simple ingredients. It has often been observed that a French housekeeper can supply a family, with pleasing and nutritious food, of that which forms the waste of an ordinary American household.
We cannot recommend too strongly to young housekeepers the policy of mixing the sponge for bread at night, as the bread will thus be ready for baking early in the morning. Otherwise bread-making becomes the dread of the housekeeper and the anxiety of the whole day. Prepare the potatoes for the sponge at dinner, or tea-time, having the flour sifted in the bread pan. If the yeast is rapid, and the weather warm, do not mix the sponge until late in the evening. In cool weather this should be done at tea-time.
Coffee sacking cut into the shape of mats, and embroidered about the borders in simple patterns with bright worsted, makes very pretty and useful ornaments, especially for bed-room service, to lay in front of dressing bureaus, tables, stands, lounges, etc., thus preventing the wear of carpets. They should have the border threads of the sacking drawn out, to form a fringe, and are best lined with a piece of old carpet.
Very pretty coverings for chair covers are made of Turkish toweling, trimmed with fine colored skirt braid, stitched neatly on and embroidery each side, forming stripes alternately of braid and embroidery; or a border, with embroidery, each side of the braid, and a monogram, or small piece of simple embroidery in the center.
Many pretty fancies may be produced from these materials, as slipper pockets, comb and brush pockets, etc.
An oil cloth on the kitchen floor will save a good deal of Bridget's time. It is easily kept clean and does not absorb dirt and grease.
The floors of all closets through the house should be covered with oil cloth. Dust and moths are not thus harbored as when carpets are used, and are much prettier than a bare or painted floor.
Instead of the custom so common of putting fresh newspapers on closet and pantry shelves, we would recommend the pretty marbled oil cloth, which is used for "splashers," "stand covers," etc. This is easily cleaned, and when the edge is finished with a crocheted border of some bright colored worsted, it has a pretty effect hanging over the edge of the shelf.
An excellent method of preserving a table-cloth clean for the longest time is to lay a clean towel under any spots immediately after clearing the table, then wash the table-cloth with a fresh clean cloth in clean soap suds, then rinse it with clear water, dry it as much as possible with a clean dry towel, then fold and lay it under a heavy weight. In this way a table-cloth may be made to last clean for a long time.
The tea-table is the only meal where the table may be laid without a cover. An excellent fancy are the pretty crocheted mats for every dish, preserving the polished surface of the table from being defaced. When these are used a large oval mat for the tea service is appropriate.
Do not use a salver for the tea service. Fringed napkins are the choice for this meal.