This article continues the topic of providing for the household and what to have on hand, from last Tuesday's post. Again it comes from Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book ©1871
SUGGESTIONS IN REFERENCE TO PROVIDING A SUCCESSIVE VARIETY OF FOOD.
By a little skill and calculation, a housekeeper may contrive to keep a constant change of agreeable varieties on her table, and that, too, without violating the rules either of health or economy. Some suggestions will be offered to aid in this object.
In the first place, much can be effected by keeping on hand a good supply of the various bread-stuffs. Good raised bread, of fine flour, must be the grand staple, but this may, every day, be accompanied with varieties of bread made of unbolted flour, or rye and In dian, or Indian alone, or potato and apple bread, or rice bread, or the various biscuits and rusk. It will be found that these are all more acceptable, if there are occasional changes, than if any one of them is continued a long time.
All the dough of these different kinds of bread, when light, can, with very little trouble, be made into drop cakes, or griddle cakes for breakfast, or tea, by adding »ome milk and eggs, and in some cases a little melted lard.
Very fine common cake is also easily made, at every baking, by taking some of the dough of bread and working in sugar, butter, and eggs, by the receipt given for Bread Cake and Child's Feather Cake. These can be made more or less sweet and rich at pleasure.
In the next place, a good supply of fruit in the gar den, and stored in the cellar, enables a housekeeper to keep up a constant variety. The directions given under the head of Modes of Preparing Apples for the Tea Table, will be found very useful for this purpose, while those for preparing Rice and Dry Bread are equally serviceable in helping out a cheap and convenient variety. There are some cheap dishes at the end also, which are very good, and easily made.
The directions for preparing Hashes, also, are recommended as a mode of economizing, that is very acceptable when properly done. The little relishes obtained in summer from the garden, are very serviceable in securing varieties. Among these may be mentioned cucumbers, radishes, cabbage sprouts, Jerusalem artichokes, and tomatoes, all of which are very fine eaten with salt and vinegar.
Mush, hominy, tapioca, and rice cooked, and then, when cold, fried on a griddle, are great favorites. If salt pork rinds are used to grease the griddle, there will be so little fat used, that no injury to the most delicate stomachs can result from this mode of cooking.
In winter, the breakfast-table and tea-table can be supplied by a most inviting variety of muffins, griddle cakes, drop cakes, and waffles made of rice, corn meal, and unbolted flour, all of which are very healthful and very agreeable to the palate.
One mode of securing a good variety, in those months in spring when fruits and vegetables fail, is by a wise providence in drying and preserving fruits and vegetables. The following directions will aid in this particular.
Directions for Preserving Fruits and Vegetables Blackberries, whortleberries, currants, raspberries peaches, plums, apples, pears, and quinces, can ail be preserved by drying them in the sun, and then storing them in bags in a cool, dry place.
Green currants, and green gooseberries, can be preserved thus. Gather them when perfectly dry, put them into very dry junk bottles, free from stems and eyes, set the bottles uncorked into a kettle of cold water, and then make the water boil. Then cork the bottles (the fruit should come up to the cork), and seal them with bee's wax and rosin. Store them in a dry, cool place, where they will not freeze. Everything depends on success in excluding air and water. Putting them in boxes, and filling the interstices with dry sand, is the surest mode of storing the bottles.
There is a receipt for Preserving Fruit in Water, that has found its way into many receipt books, which seems to the writer to be a dangerous and useless one, and never should be tried.
It directs that fruit be put in bottles, then water pour ed in, and then the bottles corked tight, and the cork lied. Then the bottles are to be set in a kettle of water, which is to be heated till it boils. Of course this must burst the bottles, or throw out the corks.
It is probable that the design of some plan of this sort «vas to exclude all air from the fruit. This could be done by setting the bottles filled with fruit and water, uncorked, in a kettle of water, and making the water boil Then cork the bottles and seal them, and the wa ter will remain, but all air will be excluded. The writer never has seen a person who has tried this method, and perhaps it may be one in which fruit can be pre served.
Peach Leather is much relished by invalids, and is prepared thus. Squeeze out the pulp of very ripe peaches, and spread it half an inch thick on plates or shingles, and let it dry till quite hard and tough. Then roll it up in layers, with clean paper between.
Tomato Leather can be made in the same way. But the following is the best mode of preserving tomatoes. Pour boiling water on to the ripe tomatoes, and peel theiu lioii them till reduced to half the original quaii tity, throwing in. at first, a tea-cup of sugar and a large spoonful of salt for every gallon. When reduced to one half the quantity, spread it on flat dishes half an inch thick, and dry it eight or ten days in the sun, and air. Then put it in layers, with paper between. In preparing it for table, stew it slowly in a good deal of water, adding bread crumbs and seasoning.
Some persons dry them in a brick oven instead of the sun. A quicker, but not so nice a way, is simply to cut them in two without peeling, and dry them in the oven.
Tomato Figs are prepared thus:—Scald and peel them, and then boil them in one-third the weight of sugar, till they are penetrated by it. Then flatten and dry them in the sun, occasionally turning them and sprinkling with sugar. When dry, pack them in layers, with sugar sprinkled between.
Green Corn can be preserved by simply turning back the husk, all but the last thin layer, and then hanging it in the sun, or a very warm room. When it is to be used, boil it till soft, and then cut it off the cob and mix it with butter, and add, if you like, dried Lima beans cooked soft, in another vessel. The summer sweet corn is the proper kind to dry. Lima beans can be dried in the sun when young and tender. They are good to bake, when dried after they are ripe.
Another mode is to parboil sweet corn, cut it from the cobs, and dry it in the sun. Then store it in a dry, cool place, in a bag.
Another way is to take off all the Iuissks but the thin one next the corn; tie this over the corn tight, and pack it in salt.
Try each of these ways, and make succotash with dried Lima beans, adding a little cream to the broth. If done right, it is excellent in winter. In cutting corn from cobs, in all cases take care not to cut off any cob, as it gives a bad taste.
Peas, also, are good to dry, and make a fine dish thus. Take six or eight pounds of corned beef, put it in a large pot and fill it with water, and put in two quarto of drto>l leas. Let them boil till soft, and then add the sweet herb seasoning, or take it up without any other seasoning than a little pepper and the salt of the meat.
Beef, cooked thus, is excellent when cold, and the pea soup, thus made, is highly relished. No dish is cheaper, or more easily prepared.
Pumpkins and squashes can be peeled and cut in strips and dried in the sun.
The stalks of rhubarb or the pie plant can be slivered fine and dried in the sun for winter use.
A housekeeper who will take pains to have these things done in the proper season, and well stored, will always keep an inviting table, in those months when others so much complain that they can find no variety.
It is a good plan for a housekeeper the first day, or week of every month, to make a calculation of her bill of fare for that month, going over such a receipt-book as this, and ascertaining how many of the varieties offered she can secure. At the same time she can be laying in stores of articles for future use. Svstem in this matter is of essential service.