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Vegetables of all kinds should be thoroughly picked over, throwing out all decayed or unripe parts, then well washed in several waters. Most vegetables, when peeled, are better when laid in cold water a short time before cooking. When partly cooked a little salt should be thrown into the water in which they are boiled, and they should cook steadily after they are put on, not allowed to stop boiling or simmering until they are thoroughly done. Every sort of culinary vegetable is much better when freshly gathered and cooked as soon as possible, and, when done, thoroughly drained, and served immediately while hot.

Onions, cabbage, carrots and turnips should be cooked in a great deal of water, boiled only long enough to sufficiently cook them, and immediately drained. Longer boiling makes them insipid in taste, and with too little water they turn a dark color.

Potatoes rank first in importance in the vegetable line, and consequently should be properly served. It requires some little intelligence to cook even so simple and common a dish as boiled potatoes. In the first place, all defective or green ones should be cast out; a bad one will flavor a whole dish. If they are not uniform in size, they should be made so by cutting after they are peeled. The best part of a potato, or the most nutritious, is next to the skin, therefore they should be pared very thinly, if at all; then, if old, the cores should be cut out, thrown into cold water salted a little, and boiled until soft enough for a fork to pierce through easily; drain immediately, and replace the kettle on the fire with the cover partly removed, until they are completely dried. New potatoes should be put into boiling water, and when partly done salted a little. They should be prepared just in time for cooking by scraping off the thin outside skin. They require about twenty minutes to boil.


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The White House Cookbook (1887).

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