Dumplings

A. Class Experiments. Cooking Meat.

1. Sear a small piece of meat in a frying pan. Pour half a cup of cold water over it and simmer for half an hour.

2. Repeat with a piece of meat of the same size and shape, but omit the searing.

Compare the appearance and taste of the resulting broths. Cut the meat open and see whether one tastes or appears different from the other.

B. Prepare Beef Stew.

Cut lean beef into small cubes. Season each piece highly, dredge with flour, and brown on all sides in a frying pan with a little suet. Add enough water to cover meat (reserving one piece for the next experiment), let it come rapidly to the boiling point, then simmer or finish the cooking in a double boiler until tender. At least two hours is necessary. Before the stew is finished, diced vegetables may be added, and twenty minutes allowed for them to cook. If the gravy is not thick enough, a little flour and water may be added. This should be done before cooking the dumplings. If left-over roast beef is used, will it be necessary to brown? Should the left-over gravy be added?

C. Serve the Stew with Dumplings.

Sift together one cup of flour, two teaspoons of baking-powder, and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt; then stir in enough milk to make a soft dough, about a third of a cup.

1. Drop a spoon of the mixture into the stew, covering it with the gravy.

2. Drop the rest by spoonfuls over the meat in the stew in such a way that the dumpling is held well out of the water.

In which case is the dumpling soggy?

D. Class Experiment. Keeping Meat Tender.

To show why meat is simmered instead of boiled. Boil the cube of meat reserved from (B) for an hour, and then compare it with a piece of meat from the stew which has been cooked the same length of time.

Meat Inspection

Not only is the slaughtering and packing of meat the largest manufacturing process in the United States, but our consumption of meat is very great. Reports for the United States Department of Agriculture estimated the per capita consumption of beef, lamb, mutton, pork, and veal in 1900 as 178.75 lbs. while that of Great Britain was only 122 lbs., Germany 99 lbs., and France 80 lbs. Moreover, about a third of all the expenditure for food materials is spent for meat. When this is realized, as well as the fact that meat is one of the foods "most subject to conditions rendering it unwholesome or even dangerous", it is no wonder that the Federal government yearly appropriates a large sum of money for meat inspection and makes the penalties for violation of the meat-inspection law much more severe than for violation of the other food laws.

Meat may be dangerous, first, because animal parasites may be present, such as trichina in pork; or, second, because bacteria may be present. The latter may be dangerous for two reasons. They may be bacteria causing diseases which are capable of being communicated through the eating of the flesh, or they may be bacteria which produce poisons or ptomains in the meat, which, if eaten, may cause illness or even death.

Federal inspection excludes from interstate commerce and exportation all meat found unfit for food, and allows only meat to be sold which is considered as coming from healthy animals, slaughtered under sanitary conditions. Since meat is an ideal culture medium for bacteria, it is necessary not only to see that it is from healthy animals but that it is not infected afterwards. Such infection could easily take place if flies and dust were allowed, or if the meat were handled by men with unclean and infected hands. What infection may mean is evident from recent studies made on Hamburg steak, which report as high as 525,000,000 bacteria to a gram of meat, even average samples showing about 10,000,000. Fortunately these are not usually bacteria which cause disease or produce ptomains.

As they know of this government inspection, many people have an unwarranted feeling of safety in buying meat. Too often it is not realized that the Federal government can control only those slaughter houses which send meat into interstate commerce. Smaller houses, selling in one state only, are not under federal jurisdiction at all. Hence, state and city inspection laws are also necessary.

References

U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. Bureau of Animal Industry, Circular

125. "The Federal Meat-Inspection Service." Commercial Geographies.

Questions

1. What advantages are there in serving meat cooked, instead of raw?

2. What methods of preserving meat are allowed by the Federal law?

3. Is there any limit to the time meat may be kept in cold storage before being sold?

4. What are the causes of the increased cost of meat?

5. What trade in meat has the United States with other countries?

6. How much Hamburg steak would you buy to serve four people? How much tenderloin steak? How large a roast of beef? How heavy a leg of lamb?