General Directions

All green vegetables, roots, and tubers should be crisp and firm when put on to cook. If for any reason a vegetable has lost its firmness and crispness it should be soaked in very cold water until it becomes plump and crisp. With new vegetables this will be only a matter of minutes, while old roots and tubers often require many hours. All vegetables should be thoroughly cleaned just before being put on to cook. Vegetables that form in heads, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, should be soaked, heads turned down, in salted cold water, to which a few spoonfuls of vinegar may be added. If there are any worms or other forms of animal life in these vegetables, they will crawl out. To secure the best results all vegetables except dried peas, beans, etc., must be put in boiling water, and the water must be made to boil again as soon as possible after the vegetables have been added, and must be kept boiling until the cooking is finished.

To secure the most appetizing and palatable dishes, only fresh tender vegetables should be cooked. If, however, green beans, peas, etc., have grown until a little too old, a very small amount of baking - soda added to the water in which they are boiled makes them more tender, it is commonly believed, and helps to retain the color. Too much soda injures the flavor, and an excess must be carefully avoided. A little soda may also be used to advantage if the water is quite hard. Peas may be boiled for fifteen or twenty minutes in the water to which the soda has been added, then cooked the same as peas with pork (page 56).

During the cooking of all vegetables the cover must be drawn to one side of the stew-pan. All vegetables should be thoroughly cooked, but the cooking should stop while the vegetable is still firm. This, of course, does not apply to vegetables that are cooked in soups, purees (thick strained soups), etc. The best seasoning for most vegetables is salt and good butter or drippings. Vegetables that are blanched and then cooked with butter or drippings and other seasonings and very little moisture are more savory and nutritious than when all the cooking is done in a good deal of clear water.

Blanching Vegetables As A Cooking Process

Blanching is a cooking process often used with vegetables, since it removes the strong taste and improves the quality. It is also convenient, since blanching may be done at any time, and the cooking completed in a very short time when the dish is to be served.

Have a large stew-pan half full of rapidly boiling water. Add a tablespoon of salt for every two quarts of water. Have the vegetables cleaned and well drained. Drop them into the boiling water, and bring the water back to the boiling point as quickly as possible. Boil rapidly, with the cover partially or wholly off the stew-pan, five to twenty minutes, depending upon the vegetable, then drain off the water. If the cooking of the vegetable is not to be finished at once, pour cold water over the vegetable to cool it quickly, then drain and set aside until needed. If the cooking is to be continued at once, it will not be necessary to rinse the vegetable with cold water. To complete the cooking the vegetable should be put in a small stew-pan with butter or drippings and the other seasonings and cooked gently until done. A few spoonfuls of liquid will be required for every quart of very juicy vegetables, and half a pint of liquid for drier vegetables. The stew - pan should be covered, only a slight opening being left for ventilation. All vegetables cooked in this manner should be cut rather small either before or after the blanching.

Waste In Preparing Vegetables

In preparing vegetables for the table the careful cook will remove all inedible portions and will see to it that the total amount of refuse is as small as is consistent with good quality. Thin paring of potatoes and other vegetables is an economy which it is worth while to practice, and is an easy way of decreasing useless loss. When potatoes are cooked in their skins there is absolutely no waste. A great deal of the potato is wasted in paring or scraping it; some nourishment is also lost in paring or scraping.

Swiss Chards

This vegetable is a variety of beet in which the leaf stalk and midrib have been developed instead of the root. It is cultivated like spinach, and the green, tender leaves are prepared exactly like this vegetable. The midribs of the full-grown leaves may be cooked like celery.

Beet Greens

Wash thoroughly in many waters. Put into a stew - pan and cover generously with boiling water. Add a teaspoon of salt for every two quarts of greens. Boil rapidly until tender. This will be about thirty minutes. Drain off the water, chop rather coarse, season with butter or drippings and salt.

The vegetable may be boiled with pork as directed for "Cabbage and Pork."

Succotash

To a pint of corn cooked as above add a pint of cooked and seasoned shelled beans.