If we heed the injunction of the wise man to eat for strength and not for drunkenness, we will exclude the burning, irritating condiments from our dietary, since they by causing a feverish state of the system and creating "a thirst which water cannot quench," are among the greatest causes of inebriety.
When our sense of taste is not benumbed or destroyed by harmful accompaniments we are in a condition to keenly enjoy the thousands of fine, delicate flavors that our loving Father has placed in wholesome foods.
Among the stronger flavors for those who do not at once enjoy the delicate ones, we have sage, savory, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, bay leaf, garlic, onion, chives and leeks.
Celery leaves dried with gentle heat make excellent flavorings. They may be powdered by rubbing through a wire strainer the same as leaf sage.
Crush stalks of celery and let them stand in the soup or sauce to be flavored for 15m., then remove them.
For a fresh positive onion flavor, let slices of onion stand in the food for 5 or 10 m.
The flavor of garlic is usually obtained by rubbing the dish in which the food is to be served or the spoon with which it is stirred with the cut surface of one of the cloves or sections. Slice it and crush it with salt when using it in cooked foods. One clove will flavor a large quantity.
Use bay leaf in the proportion of one large leaf to a quart of liquid.
As far as possible raise your own herbs. If in no other way, plant them in pots and boxes in the house. Somewhere I have seen the suggestion of planting parsley in holes in the sides of a barrel which has been sawed in two, and such plants as sage, thyme, mint, basil and tarragon in the top.
Gather herbs before flowering, dry in the shade, tie in paper sacks and hang in a dry place. Powder only a small quantity at a time and keep in close covered small jars. Fresh herbs, especially mint and tarragon, when obtainable, are far superior to dry ones.
The fact that raising any oil to a temperature high enough to brown it, decomposes it and produces a poisonous acid-a powerful irritant-is one of the best known to science.
To prepare browned flour, sift bread flour into a broad flat pan, let it stand in a warm oven, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly dry, then gradually increase the heat of the oven, stirring often, until the desired degree of brownness is reached.
A delicate cream color, so light that you would hardly know there was any color except by comparing it with flour that had not been in the oven, gives a delightfully meaty flavor to some gravies and sauces. A light or medium brown is convenient to have at times, but the one most useful is the dark chestnut brown. The darker it is the longer it will last, as less of it will be required for flavoring.
To obtain this color a very high degree of heat will be required at the last, with almost constant stirring. As this dark flour lasts so long (I seldom make it more than once in a year for a large family), it pays to give it the necessary attention at every stage. Do not try to hurry it. If you begin browning it before it is thoroughly dry, it will burn, When done, sift and keep in close covered can or jar.
The lightest shade (which for convenience we call No. I, and the others No. 2 and 3) should be prepared oftener as it becomes stale by standing. No. 3 will keep indefinitely. It is used for flavoring only as it will not thicken. Where consistency is desired, combine it with unbrowned flour. No. 1 will thicken nearly as much as though it had not been in the oven, and No. 2 a little.
When no number is given in recipes calling for browned flour, No. 3 is understood.
Browned flour, onion and a small quantity of tomato (not enough to give a tomato taste) combined, form the basis of meaty flavors in foods.
To these, add sometimes a bay leaf, a very little sage and a trifle of thyme. Again, add bay leaf, grated or chopped carrot and a very few celery tops, dried or fresh.
Garlic combines well with either of these combinations, and powdered or soaked dried mushrooms are a delightful addition.
Butter (oil or part oil) and a little onion with parsley seem something like chicken.
Juniper berries are thought to give the flavor of game. Not more than a teaspoonful of crushed berries should be used to the quart of stew.
Combine flavors so that no one is prominent but the whole combination pleasing.
Use herbs and all strong flavorings sparingly. One colored cook of experience expressed it when she said, "I put in just a trifle of sage, not enough to make it vulgar."
Withal, have a variety; do not use the same flavors day after day.
For sauces, soups and croquettes.
Cook together sliced onions, browned flour and oil with salt and water until onions are tender; strain, keep in cool place.