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Care of Food

A great saving is made by the proper care and use of cooked and uncooked food. The first and great consideration is perfect cleanliness. The ice chest and cellar should be thoroughly cleaned once a week; the jars in which bread is kept must be washed, scalded and dried thoroughly at least twice a week. When cooked food is placed in either the ice chest or cellar it should be perfectly cool; if not, it will absorb an unpleasant flavor from the close atmosphere of either place. Meat should not be put directly on the ice, as the water draws out the juices. Always place it in a pan, and this may be set on the ice. When you have a refrigerator where the meat can be hung, a pan is not needed. In winter, too, when one has a cold room, it is best to hang meats there. These remarks apply, of course, only to joints and fowl. The habit which many people have of putting steaks, chops, etc., in the wrapping paper on ice, is a very bad one. When purchasing meat always have the trimmings sent home, as they help to make soups and sauces. Every scrap of meat and bone left from roasts and broils should be saved for the soup-pot. Trimmings from ham, tongue, corned beef, etc., should all be saved for the many relishes they will make. Cold fish can be used in salads and warmed up in many palatable ways. In fact, nothing that comes on the table is enjoyed more than the little dishes which an artistic cook will make from the odds and ends left from a former meal. By artistic cook is meant not a professional, but a woman who believes in cleanliness and hot dishes, and that there is something in the appearance as well as in the taste of the food, and who does not believe that a quantity of butter, or of some kind of fat, is essential to the success of nearly every dish cooked. The amount of food spoiled by butter, good butter too, is surprising.

One should have a number of plates for cold food, that each kind may be kept by itself. The fat trimmings from beef, pork, veal, chickens and fowl should be tried out while fresh, and then strained. The fowl and chicken fat ought to be kept in a pot by itself for shortening and delicate frying. Have a stone pot for it, holding about a quart, and another, holding three or four quarts, for the other kinds. The fat that has been skimmed from soups, boiled beef and fowl, should be cooked rather slowly until the sediment falls to the bottom and there is not the shadow of a bubble. It can then be strained into the jar with the other fat; but if strained while bubbles remain, there is water in it, and it will spoil quickly. The fat from sausages can also be strained into the larger pot. Another pot, holding about three quarts, should be kept for the fat in which articles of food have been fried. When you have finished frying, set the kettle in a cool place for about half an hour; then pour the fat into the pot through a fine strainer, being careful to keep back the sediment, which scrape into the soap-grease. In this way you can fry in the same fat a dozen times, while if you are not careful to strain it each time, the crumbs left will burn and blacken all the fat. Occasionally, when you have finished frying, cut up two or three uncooked potatoes and put into the boiling fat. Set on the back of the stove for ten or fifteen minutes; then set in a cool place for fifteen minutes longer, and strain. The potatoes clarify the fat. Many people use ham fat for cooking purposes; and when there is no objection to the flavor, it is nice for frying eggs, potatoes, etc. But it should not be mixed with other kinds. The fat from mutton, lamb, geese, turkey or ducks will give an unpleasant flavor to anything with which it is used, and the best place for it is with the soap-grease. Every particle of soup and gravy should be saved, as a small quantity of either adds a great deal to many little dishes. The quicker food of all kinds cools the longer it keeps. This should be particularly remembered with soups and bread.

Bread and cake must be thoroughly cooled before being put into box or jar. If not, the steam will cause them to mold quickly. Crusts and pieces of stale bread should be dried in a slow oven, rolled into fine crumbs on a board, and put away for croquettes, cutlets or anything that is breaded. Pieces of stale bread can be used for toast, griddle-cakes and puddings and for dressing for poultry and other kinds of meat. Stale cake can be made into puddings; The best tub butter will keep perfectly well without a brine if kept in a cool, sweet room. It is more healthful and satisfactory to buy the choicest tub butter and use it for table and cooking purposes than to provide a fancy article for the table and use an inferior one in the preparation of the food. If, from any cause, butter becomes rancid, to each pint of it add one tablespoonful of salt and one teaspoonful of soda, and mix well; then add one pint of cold water, and set on the fire until it comes to the boiling point Now set away to cool, and when cool and hard, take off the butter in a cake. Wipe dry and put away for cooking purposes. It will be perfectly sweet.

Milk, cream and butter all quickly absorb strong odors; therefore, care must be taken to keep them in a cool, sweet room or in an ice chest. Cheese should be wrapped in a piece of clean linen and kept in a box. Berries must be kept in a cool place, and uncovered.


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