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Green Vegetables (General Remarks)

I have not given recipes for the cooking of plain greens, as they are prepared very much alike everywhere in England. There are a number of recipes in this book giving savoury ways of preparing them, and I will now make a few remarks on the cooking of plain vegetables. The English way of boiling them is not at all a good one, as most of the soluble vegetable salts, which are so important to our system, are lost through it. Green vegetables are generally boiled in a great deal of salt water; this is drained off when they are tender, and the vegetables then served. A much better way for all vegetables is to cook them in a very small quantity of water, and adding a small piece of butter (1 ounce to 2 lb. of greens) and a little salt. When the greens are tender, any water which is not absorbed should be thickened with a little Allinson fine wheatmeal and eaten with the vegetables. A great number of them, such as Cabbages, Savoys, Brussel sprouts, Scotch kail, turnip-tops, etc., etc., can be prepared this way.

In the case of vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, sea kale, parsnips, artichokes, carrots or celery, which cannot always be stewed in a little water, this should be saved as stock for soups or sauces. Most of these vegetables are very nice with a white sauce; carrots are particularly pleasant with parsley sauce.

Spinach is a vegetable which English cooks rarely prepare nicely; the Continental way of preparing it is as follows: The spinach is cooked without water, with a little salt; when quite tender it is strained, turned on to a board, and chopped very finely; then it is returned to the saucepan with a piece of butter, a little nutmeg, or a few very finely chopped eschalots and some of the juice previously strained. When the spinach is cooking a little Allinson fine wheatmeal, smoothed in 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls of milk, is added to bind the spinach with the juice; cook it a few minutes longer, and serve it with slices of hard-boiled egg on the top. Potatoes also require a good deal of care. When peeled, potatoes are plainly boiled, they should be placed over the fire after the water has been strained; the potatoes should be lightly shaken to allow the moisture to steam out. This makes them mealy and more palatable. Potatoes which have been baked in their skins should be pricked when tender, or the skins be cracked in some way, otherwise they very soon become sodden. A very palatable way of serving potatoes, is to peel them and bake them in a tin with a little oil or butter, or vege-butter; they should be turned occasionally, in order that they should brown evenly. This is not a very hygienic way of preparing potatoes. From a health point of view they are best baked in their skins, or steamed with or without the skins. A good many vegetables may be steamed with advantage; for instance, cabbage, sprouts, turnips, parsnips, swedes, Scotch kail, etc. Any way of preparing greens is better than boiling them in a large saucepanful of water and throwing this away. I may just mention that Scotch kail, after being boiled in a little water, should be treated exactly as spinach, and is most delicious in that way; an onion cooked with it greatly improves the flavour.


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Dr. Allinson's Cookery Book (1915).

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