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Vegetables include, commonly though not botanically speaking, all plants used for food except grains and fruits. With exception of beans, peas, and lentils, which contain a large amount of proteid, they are chiefly valuable for their potash salts, and should form a part of each day's dietary. Many contain much cellulose, which gives needed bulk to the food. The legumes, peas, beans, and lentils may be used in place of flesh food. For the various vegetables different parts of the plant are used. Some are eaten in the natural state, others are cooked.

Young, tender vegetables,—as lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, water-cress, and tomatoes,—eaten uncooked, served separately or combined in salads, help to stimulate a flagging appetite, and when dressed with oil furnish considerable nutriment. Beans, and peas when old, should be employed in making purées and soups; by so doing, the outer covering of cellulose, so irritating to the stomach, is removed.

Care of Vegetables

Summer vegetables should be cooked as soon after gathering as possible; in case they must be kept, spread on bottom of cool, dry, well-ventilated cellar, or place in ice-box. Lettuce may be best kept by sprinkling with cold water and placing in a tin pail closely covered. Wilted vegetables may be freshened by allowing to stand in cold water. Vegetables which contain sugar lose some of their sweetness by standing; corn and peas are more quickly affected than others. Winter vegetables should be kept in a cold, dry place. Beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc., should be put in barrels or piled in bins, to exclude as much air as possible. Squash should be spread, and needs careful watching; when dark spots appear, cook at once. In using canned goods, empty contents from can as soon as opened, lest the acid therein act on the tin to produce poisonous compounds, and let stand one hour, that it may become reoxygenated. Beans, peas, asparagus, etc., should be emptied into a strainer, drained, and cold water poured over them and allowed to run through. In using dried vegetables, soak in cold water several hours before cooking. A few years ago native vegetables were alone sold; but now our markets are largely supplied from the Southern States and California, thus allowing us fresh vegetables throughout the year.

Cooking of Vegetables

A small scrubbing-brush, which may be bought for five cents, and two small pointed knives for preparing vegetables should be found in every kitchen. Vegetables should be washed in cold water, and cooked until soft in boiling salted water; if cooked in an uncovered vessel, their color is better kept. For peas and beans add salt to water last half hour of cooking. Time for cooking the same vegetable varies according to freshness and age, therefore time-tables for cooking serve only as guides.


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The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1896).

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