Put a piece of vegetable about as big as an inch cube into an evaporating dish and heat until the residue is quite white. The process may be hastened by moistening with a drop of nitric acid, and if a blast lamp is available, use it. Note the amount of ash obtained.
B. Cooking Strong-flavored Vegetables.
Boil pieces of cabbage or onion.
1. In very little water (a) covered
2. In much water (a) covered
Compare the odor given off while cooking, and the flavor of the vegetable at the end. Which is the best method of cooking strong-flavored vegetables ? Save the water used, as well as the vegetable.
C. Prepare Scalloped Cabbage or Onion.
Place the vegetable cooked in (B) in a buttered baking-dish, mix with medium white sauce, and sprinkle with buttered crumbs.
Buttered crumbs are easily prepared by melting the butter in a saucepan, stirring in the bread crumbs and seasoning with salt, and pepper if desired. Allow about half a teaspoon of butter for a tablespoon of crumbs.
D. Prepare Cream Soup.
Use the water in which the vegetables were cooked, Make your own recipe.
In buying vegetables it is wisest to buy those which are in season, rather than imported or hot-house vegetables. The latter are seldom equal in flavor or texture and are usually much more costly. It is easy to blunt our relish for a vegetable by eating poor specimens out of season. Even when vegetables are in season, there is much choice to be exercised in their selection. Some vegetables, when kept, do not retain their sweet flavor. This is especially true of green peas and corn, in only less measure of string beans and asparagus. Such vegetables must be fresh, and freshness is told chiefly by crispness. Asparagus can be judged partly by seeing whether the stems have been cut recently. In corn, not only should the silk be brown, but the ear filled with well-developed kernels. The kernel, when cut, should be tender and juicy. String beans should have a brittle pod with tender strings, and the beans should be small. Some varieties of peas are large; unless of such a variety, young peas are small. Pods should be crisp and green and, for the sake of economy, full. Fresh spinach, celery, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, summer squash, and tomatoes are not difficult to select. Lettuce and celery should be tender as well as fresh and crisp. The freshness of young carrots and beets can be told by their leaves. With older ones, in the winter market, smaller vegetables are not only more tender, but, if bought by measure, give more for the money.
If wilted vegetables must be used, they should be soaked in cool water to freshen them as much as possible. The effect is much the same as with wilted flowers. Vegetables do not, however, keep well standing in water. The water becomes full of bacteria, just as does the water in which flowers stand, and, if the vegetables are cut, some of the soluble constituents are soaked out. Dried vegetables, too, must be soaked, but only for a limited time, to restore the water which has been lost in drying.
Composition of Legumes and Corn.
Although vegetables differ greatly in regard to their composition, they are all valuable for their mineral salts. But unless care is taken, these valuable constituents, as well as much soluble protein and sugar, will be lost in the preparation. For this reason steaming is better than boiling unless the water in which they are cooked is to be used. For the same reason vegetables are better cooked whole or cut in as large pieces as possible. Recent experiments1 have shown, for example, that while spinach and cabbage lose very little when steamed, over thirty per cent more of the total solids are lost when the same vegetables are boiled. Baking is an ideal method for vegetables that can be so prepared.
In general, vegetables are put on to boil in hot water. The exception should be made with peas and beans, which are less tough if started in cold water. As a general rule, vegetables are greatly over-cooked, losing much flavor in this way. They should be removed from the water as soon as they are sufficiently tender. This is especially true of mild-flavored vegetables, but it is true, too, of cabbage, which becomes slimy and quite different in texture and flavor as a result of long cooking.
Vegetables may be prepared deliciously in a fireless cooker. With strong-flavored vegetables, the heat is not sufficient to develop the objectionable strong flavor.
Winter vegetables to be stored should be kept cool, dark, dry, and piled up, to keep out as much air as possible. Squashes are an exception and should be spread out in a warm, dry place.
1 Journal of Home Economics, Deo. 1912, "Losses in Cooking Vegetables,"
U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Farmers' Bulletin No. 256. "The Preparation of Vegetables for the Table." Farmers' Bulletin No. 73, pp. 23-27 : "Cooking Vegetables." Farmers' Bulletin No. 342, pp. 29-30: "Cooking Beans and other Vegetables." U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Office of Exp. Sta. Bulletin No. 245. "Courses in the Use and Preparation of Vegetable Foods."
1. Make a list of strong, and of sweet or mild-flavored vegetables.
2. Are vegetables which contain little starch cheap or dear food compared with the amount of nutrients they contain?
3. How is their use justified?
4. Suggest uses for the water in which vegetables have been cooked.
5. Why is it unwise to buy vegetables, fruit, and meat by telephone?