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Full text of "First lessons in the principles of cooking .."






CU& 



FIRST LESSONS 



IN THE 



PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 



FIRST LESSONS 

IN THE PRINCIPLES 



OF 



COOKING. 



IN THREE PARTS. 



LADY A BARKER, 

Author of " Stories About" "A Christmas CakeJ 



OF THE 

UJNIVERSITT 



MACMILLAN AND CO. 

1886. 




RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, 

BRBAD STREET HILL, LONDON, E.G. 

And at Bungay, Suffolk* 




CONTENTS. 



PART I. 



PAGE 

INTRODUCTORY ........... . , . 3 



I. 

THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF OUR FOOD . . . . IO 

LESSON II. 

BREAD AND BEEF ............. l8 

LESSON III. 

FISH .................. 25 

LESSON IV. 

VEGETABLES ......... ...... 29 



PART II. 

LESSON V. 

THE PREPARATIONS OF FLOUR USED AS FOOD .... 38 



CONTENTS. 



LESSON VI. 

PAGE 

POTATOES AND OTHER VEGETABLES 44 

LESSON VII. 

MODES OF PREPARING BROTH OR SOUP FROM BEEF . . 5 1 

LESSON VIII. 

FUEL AND FIRE 58 



PART III. 

LESSON IX. 

BOILING AND STEWING 73 

LESSON X. 

BAKING, ROASTING, AND FRYING 79 

LESSON XL 

BACON 86 

LESSON XII. 

THE GIST OF THE WHOLE MATTER , 88 



PART I. 

THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION, AND THE EFFECT 
UPON THE HUMAN BODY OF THE VARIOUS 
SUBSTANCES COMMONLY EMPLOYED AS 
FOOD. 




FIRST LESSONS 



PRINCIPLES OF COOKING 
PART I. 

INTRODUCTORY. 

THE day has come in English social history when it 
is absolutely the bounden duty of every person at 
the head of a household whether that household be 
large or small, rich or poor to see that no waste is 
permitted in the preparation of food for the use of 
the family under his or her care. I am quite aware 
that such waste cannot be cured by theories, and 
that nothing except a practical acquaintance with the 
details of household management, supplemented by 
a conviction of the necessity of economy, can be 
expected to remedy the evil. At the same time, it is 
possible that ignorance of the fundamental principles 
of the chemicajl_ jcornposjtion and of the relative 
nutritive value of the various sorts of food within our 

a 3 



4 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART i. 

4o 

reach, added co the widespread ignorance of the most 
simple and wholesome modes of preparing such food, 
may be at the root of much of that waste. 

Many excellent works have been written on house- 
hold management and expenditure on both a large 
and a small scale, but I am not aware of any book 
so small as this, which exactly supplies the need I 
speak of, or which, laying other details aside, deals 
only with the subject of the preparation of food, and 
yet is not exactly a Cookery Book. 

I shall attempt in this part to give in a condensed 
form the reasons why one sort of food is better than 
another, more nutritious, and therefore cheaper, and 
also why certain methods of preparing that food will 
cause it to be more easily digested, and render it 
more wholesome. It must be stated in this, the very 
beginning, that these " reasons why " are not the 
result of any crude theories of my own, but are drawn 
from a careful study of works upon the subject by 
practical chemists. Whenever the question is a vexed 
one, or learned doctors have agreed to differ upon it, 
I omit it altogether, confining myself entirely to the 
discussion of subjects upon which there is no doubt, 
and stating the results of years of patient study and in- 
cessant experiments as briefly and simply as I possibly 
can. Although it is perhaps somewhat alarming to 
come across scientific expressions in so unpretending 
a little book as this, still I must entreat my readers not 
to be scared away by words which are unfamiliar to 
them ; and I may truthfully add my own experience 



INTRO.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 5 

to bear out the common assertion tlu the best and 
highest method of learning any subject will always 
prove the easiest in the long run. 

Instead of helplessly wringing our hands and cry- 
ing out about the high price of fuel and food, let us 
accept the present state of things as the inevitable 
and natural result of past years of extravagance and 
carelessness on our own part. The sooner we make 
up our minds that what we regretfully speak of as the 
" good old times " with their good old prices will 
.never come again, the sooner we shall cease to look 
fondly back on a cheaper past, and brace ourselves 
up helpfully and bravely to face the increased cost 
of the necessaries of life. It is much more sensible 
to do this, instead of going on in our old ignorant 
way, buoying ourselves up with hopes of a shadowy 
millennium of butchers' meat, of a future day when 
carcases of Australian or South American sheep and 
oxen shall dangle in English shops. Believe me, 
that time is a long way off, and even when it 
does come there will be many more thousands 
of hungry mouths to be filled, so that the supply 
will only keep pace even then rather lagging 
behind, as it does now with the demand of the 
coming years. If fuel and food cost nearly twice as 
much at present as they did ten years ago, then surely 
it becomes our imperative duty to see how we can, 
each of us, according to our possibilities, make the 
material for warmth and cooking go twice as far as 
they have done hitherto. Nor in making such an 



FIRST LESSON'S IN THE [PART i. 



attempt are we blindly groping in the dark, feeling 
our way step by step along the unaccustomed paths 
of scientific experiment. It has all been done for us 
whilst we were stupidly spending our capital, by men 
whose clear sight could discern the dark days ahead ; 
men who have, many of them, gone to their rest, 
before the dawn of these dark days, but who have left 
behind them clear instructions how to make the most 
of certain necessary substances whose increasing value 
they foresaw twenty or thirty years ago. If, therefore, 
we have the common sense to avail ourselves of the 
results of these researches and experiments, which 
are still carried on day after day by worthy successors 
of the great practical chemists I speak of, it is quite 
possible we may so utilize their information as to 
make our available material go a great deal further. 
At present we all confess that the balance is uncom- 
fortably adjusted, and a great many people are throw- 
ing a great many remedies into the uneven scales. 
Let us try a few grains of science, and a few more 
of common sense, and see what the practical result 
will be. 

Before we proceed to do this, however, I should 
like to endeavour to disabuse my readers' minds of 
the idea that economy and stinginess are synonymous 
terms. In point of fact they are precisely opposite. 
An individual or a household habitually practising 
economy has a far wider margin for charity and 
hospitality than the shiftless people who never can 
keep a penny in their purses or a meal 'n their cup- 



INTRO.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 7 

boards through sheer " waste-riff," as the north- 
country people call it. " Take care of the scraps, 
and the joints will take care of themselves/' would 
be a very good motto in nine-tenths of our middle- 
class households, and the practical result of such a 
theory should be better food and more of it. 

For my own part I have little hope of any real 
progress being made in the right direction until it 
shall have become once more the custom for ladies to 
do as their grandmothers did before them, and make 
it their business to acquaint themselves thoroughly 
with the principles and details of household manage- 
ment. In many cases there may be no actual pecu- 
niary necessity for such supervision, but it would at 
all events serve the good purpose of setting an 
example, besides teaching servants the real good and 
beauty of a wise economy, a liberal thrift. So long 
as the world lasts, so long will there be a Mrs. 
Grundy ; but if Mrs. Grundy can only be induced to 
go down into her kitchen and insist on a good use 
being made of sundry scraps and bones, and odds 
and ends which at present may be said to benefit no 
one, then will she deserve a statue in the market- 
place. If Mrs. A., whose husband's income may be 
one or two thousand a year, is able and capable to 
show a new cook how such and such things should 
be done so as to combine economy with palatableness, 
then will Mrs. B., whose income is barely a quarter of 
that sum, not consider it beneath her dignity to do so. 
If this movement is to do any good, it will have to 



8 F1KST LESSONS IN THE [PART i. 

be inaugurated by people whose social and pecuniary 
position makes them, to a certain extent, unaffected 
by the pressure which weighs so heavily on their 
poorer neighbours. And I am going to attempt, so to 
speak, f o kill two birds with one stone ; to persuade 
even rich people to insist on a due economy in the 
consumption of the necessaries of life, and to assure 
poor people that it is possible to make a good deal 
more of the scanty materials within their reach than 
they do at present. When I speak of inducing rich 
people to be economical, I have no culinary Utopia 
in my mind's eye, when millionaires will prefer to 
dine off cold mutton or to lunch on bone broth. 
What I mean is, that rich people can surely be made 
to understand that it is now-a-days absolutely a 
greater good to the commonwealth if their house- 
holds are so managed that little or no material for 
human food can be wasted in them, than if they 
subscribed ever so liberally to all the great charities 
of London. It is just in proportion as people's 
minds are enlarged and their field of mental vision 
extended by culture and true refinement, that they 
will be able to perceive the importance of the ques- 
tion. For tr^at reason I hope and expect that the 
warmest supporters of the attempt now being made 
by the National School of Cookery to teach the mass 
of the English people how to make the most of the 
material around them, will be found in the higher 
ranks of our society, and that from them it will 
spread downwards until it reaches the cottage where 



INTRO.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 



the labouring man is fed from year's end to year's 
end on monotonous and often unwholesome food, 
as much from lack of invention as from shallowness 
of purse. 

Before ending this preliminary lesson I feel it 
incumbent on me to state most emphatically that I 
do not wish or intend to organize a crusade against 
cooks ! In the course of nearly twenty years' ex- 
perience of that class of servants, I can declare that I 
have found very little intentional dishonesty. Waste, 
extravagance, and bad management I have met with 
over and over again, but these evils have almost in- 
variably arisen from want of opportunities of learning 
better, and I can scarcely remember an instance where 
there has not been an effort made to lay aside bad 
habits and acquire fresh ones. It is only too true, as 
dear Tom Hood says, that 

" Evil is wrought by want of thought, 
As well as by want of heart." 

So, if we can even teach our servants to think twice 
before they throw things into the pig-tub, it will be 
taking a step in the right direction. 

If a cook and her mistress are at daggers drawn, 
each regarding the other as a foe to be distrusted, 
then, indeed, there is little real economy to be 
expected. But if a cook sees that her mistress is 
willing to give her fair wages for her services, and to 
consider her comforts in other ways, whilst at the 
same time the lady thoroughly understands how the 



io FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART i. 

cook's duties should be performed, the chances are 
that the servant will readily submit to be taught a 
thousand little helpful and comfortable ways. Such 
knowledge on the mistress's part is not incompatible 
with accomplishments and refinement of taste and 
manner, but it is not to be learned from reading this 
book or any other book. It can only come from 
study and a possibility of acquiring practical expe- 
rience on the subject whilst the future matron is still 
a young girl ; and if the scheme of the Committee of 
the National School of Cookery can be carried out 
according to their views and intentions, it will be a 
woman's own fault if in future her first visit to her 
kitchen be made as an inexperienced bride with a 
dozen years of apprenticeship before her ere she 
can venture even to make a suggestion to her cook, 
or dream of " tossing up " some little dainty dish 
with her own hands. 



LESSON I. 

THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF OUR FOOD. 

THE old German poet who wound up each verse of 
his famous drinking song by the assertion that " four 
elements intimately mixed, form all nature and build 
up the world," was not so far wrong after all. The 
jovial song-writer referred to his favourite formula for 
brewing punch ; and according to him the world of 



LESS, i.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. u 

conviviality was built up by lemon and sugar, rum and 
hot water. 

Now, it is perfectly true that four elements go a 
great way towards building up the world ; but, setting 
aside the question of brewing punch, they are called 
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. So universal 
is their presence in the living and growing parts of 
animals and plants, that they are always spoken of as 
" organic elements/' and science has ascertained ex- 
actly the proportion in which each should exist in a 
healthy condition of the human body. That body is 
incessantly, but imperceptibly, undergoing a process 
which cannot be better described than by the expres- 
sion of perennial moulting, only that, whereas certain 
animals cast off certain parts of their body their 
skin, their hair, or their feathers every year, we lose 
a portion of our weight every day ; that is to say, we 
should lose it if we did not absorb through our lungs, 
the pores of our skin, and our stomachs, sufficient 
oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, to supply the 
loss caused by the wear and tear of our daily life. 
There has even been an attempt made to prove that 
our vital organs are entirely renewed every forty days 
or so, but for this calculation there can be no really 
satisfactory data, although there certainly is constant 
loss and gain going on within us. The material for 
repairing this incessant waste which is the inevitable 
result of the activity of our nervous and muscular 
system, is not supplied alone by the starch, sugar, 
water, and fat, nor yet by the milk, m.eaL- and vege- 



FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART : 



tables we consume, but by a due combination of 
food material which shall ensure the proper pro- 
portions of albumen, fibrine, and caseine absolutely 
required by our changing frames. These are rather 
hard words, but their meaning will be quite plain if we 
take as familiar examples of the three indispensable 
ingredients, the white of an egg, a piece of lean meat, 
and a bit of cheese. Everyone can understand that, 
although these things contain the largest proportion 
of one particular substance, still there may be many 
other substances in which they are present, all to- 
gether, and it is just to teach us this, and to explain 
to us why we should rather give our attention to pro- 
curing one form of food than another, that a know- 
ledge of the elements of Practical Chemistry is useful. 
In reading the accounts of the hardships and suffer- 
ings of explorers and travellers, we are often surprised 
to learn that first one member and then another of 
the expedition dropped down and died long before 
the supplies were actually exhausted. This is parti- 
cularly noticeable in the account of Burke and Wills' 
attempt to explore the great plains of South Australia, 
where one by one the travellers died, not so much 
from sheer lack of some sort of food to eat, as from 
the unhappy circumstance of the only attainable food 
being utterly deficient in the ingredients without 
which the human body cannot be nourished. For 
instance, there was abundance of an alkaline plant 
on which the natives almost live at certain times of 
the year, and occasionally even a few fish were caught. 



LESS, i.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 13 



But these materials taken by themselves were so weak 
in life-supporting properties, that they failed to repair 
sufficiently the waste caused by severe exercise and 
exposure to the weather. A man may be starved to 
death, and yet scarcely feel hungry ; that is to say, he 
may be able to put food into his mouth which will 
allay the cravings of his appetite, but which may not 
have the least power to nourish his body, so that he 
will die as surely as though he had nothing to eat 

Men's instincts are generally the surest guides, and 
however much we may have been disgusted to hear 
of such facts as of Esquimaux and Samoiedes living 
upon blubber and fat, and even eating 8 Ibs. or 
10 Ibs. of flesh at a meal, Science teaches us that 
they were unconsciously adopting the very best means 
of keeping up the supply of carbon and oxygen, or 
internal warmth, which their cold climate rendered 
absolutely necessary. So in the same way we often 
see a sick person take a fancy to some curious kind 
of food, an4 perhaps begin to recover from the 
moment he was allowed to have it. The chances are 
that if we could bring all the practical chemists in the 
world into his sick-room, and they were to analyse the 
component parts of that particular food, and at the 
same time ascertain exactly which of the organic 
elements of human life was insufficiently represented 
in the patient's system, the result of their researches 
would go to prove that the sick man knew exactly 
what he wanted to bnild him up in health, better than 
anyone else. 



14 . FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART 1. 



Nature is our surest guide after all, only unfor- 
tunately our civilization has blunted our instincts, 
and rendered us more or less artificial, so that we 
can hardly tell what is Nature, and are obliged 
to call in the aid of Science to teach us. Those 
who live in hot countries do not require to provide 
their systems with internal warmth by means of food, 
and we shall generally find that they prefer a diet 
which will contain very little carbon. But it often 
happens that an Englishman travelling or living in 
such places will become terrified at his loss of relish 
for meat and heating food, and will fly either to his 
doctor for tonics, to his cook for pickles to incite his 
flagging appetite, or, still worse, to wine or brandy for 
stimulants to repair his imaginary weakness. Nature, 
thus thwarted in her arrangements, turns sulky, and 
the man falls ill, accusing the climate of the fault 
springing from his own ignorance and folly. In his 
own country he knows much better what is good for 
him ; and in mixing bacon with his beans, or in 
taking, like the Irishman, cabbage with his potatoes, 
or, like the Italian, a strong kind of cheese with his 
maccaroni, he exhibits so many purely chemical ways 
of preparing mixtures nearly similar to each other in 
composition and nutritive value. 

In the rudest diet, and in the luxuries of the most 
refined table, the main cravings of animal nature are 
never lost sight of. Besides the first taste in the 
mouth, there is an after-taste of the digestive organs, 
which requires to be satisfied if we want to arrange a 



LESS, i.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 15 

perfect diet. It is not necessary that a food should 
yield every kind of material which the body requires to 
nourish it, for then one sort of food might be sufficient 
for the wants of man. Each sort must fulfil one or 
more of the body's requirements, so that by a wise 
combination the whole of its wants may be supplied. 
It is also to be borne in mind that our nourishment 
is not only the solid food which we actually take into 
our stomachs, according to the popular idea on the 
subject, but comprises the water we drink and the 
air we breathe. But as these pages should treat simply 
of the nourishment for our bodies, which nourishment 
must needs be submitted to the action of fire, it is 
only with the cooking of food we have to deal. 

In considering the question of the best and cheapest 
food, and the most wholesome mode of cooking it, we 
must keep steadily before us the principle, that it is 
not the quantity of food received into the human body 
which nourishes it, but the proportion which can be 
digested of such food. All else is sheer waste an 
encumbrance worse than useless whose presence 
clogs and throws out of gear the delicate mechanism 
appointed to deal with it. 

It is generally agreed by scientific chemists, that in 
casting around for something like a form of food 
which could be taken as a type of all others, there is 
none so perfect as milk. During the period when the 
young of animals as well as of human heings are fed 
entirely on milk, they grow very rapidly in the size of 
every part of their bodies. From this we infer that 



16 FIRST LESSONS IN Th [PART i. 

milk must contain all the essentials which go to build 
up muscle, nerve, bone, and every other tissue. The 
first lesson we learn from taking milk as an example 
of perfect natural food, is that there should be a cer- 
tain proportion of liquid mixed with the substances 
we consume as food, though, as the animal attains its 
full size and there is only waste to be made up, not 
growth to be provided for, the necessity for the liquid 
form of food diminishes. 

Of the flesh-forming substances contained in milk, 
caseine is the most important, and in the largest pro- 
portions ; therefore it is with milk in the form of 
cheese that it can best be dealt with as human food 
in this place. Now, there is a popular theory that 
cheese is unwholesome, and it certainly is an indi- 
gestible substance, but still it need only be avoided 
by those who suffer from weak digestions. The hard- 
working man who labours with his muscles in the open 
air, and whose stomach is in the best possible condition 
to digest his food, does wisely to spend, as he generally 
does, what little money he may possess in cheese, for 
cheese contains nearly twice the quantity of nutritive 
matter he would get in the same weight of cooked 
meat. Even with delicate feeders, a small quantity 
of cheese taken with other food facilitates digestion, 
for caseine is easily decomposed or put in a condition 
which causes other things to change. When, there- 
fore, we eat a piece of cheese after a meal, it acts like 
yeast in bread, and starts a change in the food j for 
the chances are that the stomach in trying to digest 



LESS. I.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING, 17 

the cheese will digest the rest of its contents at the 
same time. The mouldy cheese which some people's 
instinct leads them to prefer, acts more quickly in 
this way than fresh cheese. When cheese is spoken 
of as a nourishing article of food, especially to those 
who labour in the open air, it is only cheese in which 
the cream has not been previously separated from the 
milk, for the actual nutritive value will depend on the 
amount of butter material left in it. The cheap skim- 
milk cheeses of South Wales yield so little nourish- 
ment in this respect, that they are of but slight value 
as flesh-formers, whereas the rich cheeses from Ched- 
dar, Stilton, and Ayrshire are not only infinitely 
cheaper than meat, but are also very nourishing. 

It will perhaps only be necessary to take bread 
and beef as samples of food which contain in them- 
selves every element required to build up the human 
frame, to repair the daily waste, and to preserve all 
the conditions of perfect health. The generality of 
mankind have found out the value of these substances 
for themselves without the aid of science ; but it may 
be as well to learn something about bread and beef, 
for the simple reason that as we cannot always, under 
all circumstances, make sure of having them as food, 
we may be able to select those substances which 
come nearest to them in nutritive value, if we under- 
stand the component parts which make them so im- 
portant. 



1 8 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [TART i. 



LESSON II. 

BREAD AND BEEF. 

NATURE is always busy cooking inside us. She is 
ever separating, arranging, and making the best of the 
heterogeneous substances we give her to deal with, 
and it is as well to find out what materials are the 
easiest for her to manage, and so learn to economize 
her forces to the utmost. Of all the food used to 
repair the incessant waste caused by muscular exertion 
in the open air, bread and beef, as we have already 
remarked, best fulfil the needs of the human system 
under those conditions ; and we will first look at the 
chemical composition of bread. 

It is needless to trace the growth of wheat before it 
arrives at the mill to be converted into flour, but when 
it reaches that stage it comes within the limits of the 
inquiry which we propose to ourselves. Wheat is 
practically divided into two parts : the bran or outer 
covering, and the central grain or fecula ; and the 
object of the miller in the preparation of flour is to 
mix the qualities as above mentioned so as to suit his 
market, and either to separate the bran entirely or 
partially from the grain, or to leave the whole in flour. 
According to the quality of the grain and the amount 
of the husk left in it, the value of the flour varies, and 
it is divided into four classes : the " fine households " 



LESS, ii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 19 



or best, " households " or " seconds," brown meal, and 
biscuit flour ; and the value must chiefly depend on the 
estimate which is formed of the nutritive proportions 
of the different parts of the bran. 

Many people say, vaguely, " Oh, brown bread is 
more wholesome than white " ; but it is impossible 
it can be more nutritious, though it may be more 
palatable; for the outer part of the bran is glazed 
over with a layer of flint which is quite indigestible. 
At the same time it must be acknowledged that our 
practical experience teaches us that, although the 
stomach may find it impossible to assimilate bran 
itself, yet the presence of bran in bread stimulates 
the juices of the stomach to greater activity, and 
therefore, like cheese, promotes the digestion of other 
things. To a delicate organization it would probably 
act as an irritant, and therefore its use should not be 
persisted in unless there is absolutely no disarrange- 
ment of the digestive system. However finely the 
outer bran may be ground, it still remains in nutritious, 
but the inner husk possesses great value from the 
large proportion of nitrogenous matter which it con- 
tains. The whiteness of the flour is not always a test 
of its purity or nourishing powers, as in cases where 
the flour from red wheat has been most thoroughly 
sifted or "bolted," it will still keep a darker tinge 
than even " seconds " flour obtained from white wheat, 
though the red wheat remains the most nutritious. 

It is an instance of what I have before remarked 
about the instinct which guides our choice of food, 



FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART i. 



that the; navvies, who work perhaps harder than any 
other men in the world, make it a point to procure 
the very best and purest and most expensive wheaten 
bread. It is always the first thing thought of in 
settling to a job of work in a new place, that these 
men should be able to get the finest wheaten bread 
to eat. In making this proviso they are really guided 
by principles of true economy, for in their case the 
necessary waste of tissue is so great that they cannot 
afford to take into their stomachs any superfluous 
matter which will not nourish their bodies. And we 
will presently see why pure wheaten bread is the most 
nourishing of all the cereals, although there are other 
forms in which wheaten flour might be used with 
advantage, such as when made into maccaroni or 
sifted into semolina. 

In other countries, where wheaten bread is not the 
staple article of food, it is curious to notice how those 
who have to work hard in the open air have struck 
out substitutes for themselves which contain ingre- 
dients as near to wheaten bread in chemical value as 
can be procured. Thus the miners of Chili, whose 
lives are very laborious, feed on beans and roasted 
grain ; whilst some Hindoo navvies found their 
physical powers too low to do a good day's work 
when engaged in boring a tunnel, until they left off 
eating rice and took to wheaten bread and flesh. But 
the wheat grown in a tropical country is never of 
much value for nutritive purposes, nor yet that grown in 
a cold one. A hot summer in a sunny clime lying within 



LESS, ii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 21 

the temperate zone produces the best grain that is, 
grain with the least proportion of water and the greatest 
of nitrogen. Rice flour possesses so much less nitrogen 
than does wheaten flour that its nutritive value is a good 
deal lessened, and in countries where it is the staple 
food, a very great deal has to be produced and con- 
sumed to afford the inhabitants anything like a suffi- 
ciency of nourishment. The innutritive quality of 
rice is naturally the reason why a scarcity of that food 
causes such fatal results in an apparently short time. 
The people who habitually eat it have already brought 
their vital powers to so low an ebb, that a very small 
diminution of nourishment suffices to lower the life- 
supporting standard beneath the possibility of exist- 
ence. The chief reason why wheat, and indeed all 
the cereals, are of such primary importance as food, 
is, that whilst nitrogen is absolutely indispensable to 
the animal body, it cannot be produced out of sub- 
stances which do not contain it. The same is true of 
carbon, but we must look to flesh to produce that. 
The chief ingredients of our blood contain nearly 
17 per cent, of nitrogen, according to Liebig, and 
he was also convinced that no part of an organ con- 
tains less than the same proportion of that elemen- 
tary body. The nitrogenous principle in^ wheat is 
called gluten ; but it is the cerealin which acts as a 
ferment and assists in the digestion of the other 
substances. 

In wheat this is what we find water, gluten, albu- 
men, starch, sugar, gum, fat, woody fibre, and mineral 



FIRST LESSONS IN THE 



matter, all in certain proportions, but there is a great 
deal more starch than anything else. Next to starch 
comes gluten, and we must remember it is in that 
ingredient the nitrogenous principle lurks. If these 
component parts are again classed, the result will be 
that wheat stands first as a "force-producer," and 
second as a " flesh- producer ; " so, as strength is of 
more importance to the navvies than flesh, they may 
well be excused for being so particular about their 
bread. In another place we will speak of the 
simplest and best modes of making wheaten flour 
into bread. Now we must pass on to beef, and try 
to show why our national love of this particular form 
of flesh-food has had its origin in an instinct of what 
was best to keep ourselves in good working or fight- 
ing condition. 

Although bread actually produces fibrine, still it is 
best if we need only look to it for gluten, albumen, 
and so forth, and depend upon flesh for fibrine, where 
we shall find it ready-made to our hand (or, should I 
say to our mouth?) in the fibres of the meat. Of 
all the forms of meat used for human food, the flesh 
of the ox is that generally preferred where there is 
any choice in the matter, and it is certainly both 
nourishing and easily digested. In comparing the 
nutritive value of different kinds of meat, we must 
distinguish between fat and lean, and the amount of 
nourishment is in proportion to the fat or lean of the 
meat. Fat (that is, carbon) generates heat, but lean 
generates heat and forms flesh as well, for in lean 



LESS, ii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 23 

flesh all four " organic elements " are well represented, 
In both mutton and pork we get so much fat that the 
actual nourishment contained in the same amount of 
beef (unless exceptionally fattened) is greater, and it 
is also the fullest of the red blood juices. Besides 
this, the loss in cooking beef is much less than in 
cooking mutton, owing to the greater solidity of the 
flesh and the smaller proportion of fat. "It is quite 
certain," says Liebig, " that a nation of animal feeders 
is always a nation of hunters, for the use of a rich 
nitrogenous diet demands an expenditure of power 
and a large amount of physical exertion, as is seen in 
the restless disposition of all the carnivora of our 
menageries." Hence it follows that for those whose 
daily toil necessitates an expenditure of power, it 
would be the truest economy if they were to endea- 
vour to supply the waste of their muscular system by 
ever so small a quantity of true flesh-forming food, in- 
stead of being contented with a larger meal of a less 
nourishing description, washed down by beer or spirit, 
which contains no real nutritive worth. Malt and 
alcohol possess narcotic and stimulating properties, 
and do no harm in moderation indeed, to the weak 
or aged they are of incalculable value. But a strong, 
healthy labouring man would keep himself in much 
better working order if he economized his beer and 
increased his animal food. 

I have seen with my own eyes a very forcible illus- 
tration of this truth in the working man of New 
Zealand as he existed some years ago. In those 



24 FIRST LESSENS IN THE [PART. i. 

days beer and spirit used to be almost unknown 
except in the young colonial towns, and the early 
settlers up the country lived entirely on bread and 
mutton, for even potatoes were a rare and pre- 
cious delicacy for the first half-dozen years. Such a 
splendid physical condition of the human frame it 
had never before been my good fortune to behold. 
Everyone looked in the perfection of health: clear 
complexions, bright eyes, and active limbs which 
seemed not to know fatigue, were the result of many 
years of a compulsory and much-abused diet of bread, 
tea, and mutton. When I say tea, it was really only 
used as a stimulant or for warmth, for cold water was 
the universal beverage. People might grumble, but 
they throve, and the generation whom I saw growing 
on that diet from childhood towards man's estate 
might challenge the world over to produce their 
equals for vigour and strength. 

Perhaps it is rather "bull"-ish of me to insist in 
one page upon beef, like motley, being "your only 
wear," and then in the next going near to show that 
mutton does just as well; but, seriously, one has only 
to turn to Sir Francis Head's account of his ride 
across the Pampas, to Jearn how much exertion can 
be supported upon dried lean beef. It is not only, 
as Sir Francis says, that he endured enormous and 
incessant fatigue solely on this beef diet, but that 
months of such fatigue left him in splendid physical 
condition, able to do anything or go anywhere. To 
reconcile the two theories, however, I must add that 



UNIVERSITY) 



LESS. HI.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING, 25 



the gallant veteran confesses his beef diet rendered 
him somewhat lean and ill-favoured, and that he did 
not look so handsome and well as my mutton-fed 
New Zealand colonists used to do. 



LESSON III. 

FISH. 

IN many parts of the coast of our sea-surrounded 
home, fish is, from necessity, the staple food of the 
inhabitants; and although whole districts in other 
parts of the world, such as Dacca, the Mediter- 
ranean coast of Spain, &c., are fed almost entirely 
on fish, our business lies only with our own people. 
There is no doubt that fish, even the red-blooded 
salmon, should not be the sole nitrogenous animal 
food of any nation ; and even if milk and eggs be 
added, the vigour of such people will not equal 
that of a flesh- eating community. But of all 
kinds of animal food, the fresh herring offers the 
largest amount of nutriment for the smallest amount 
of money, and this statement is the more curious 
when we think of the turtle, which is produced in 
such enormous quantities on the shores of the West 
Indian islands, as well as the estuaries of the Indian 
coast. Although the flesh of the turtle is palatable 
and wholesome, it possesses a cloying peculiarity, 
insomuch that, after a year or two, Europeans will 



26 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART I. 

suffer hunger to the verge of starvation rather than 
touch it. Perhaps this repugnance may be an in- 
stinct arising from the fact that the phosphoric fat 
of the turtle renders it difficult of solution in the 
digestive juices, and therefore its really nutritious 
properties are counteracted by this superabundant 
richness. 

So we see that the balance has to be very 
nicely adjusted : the old proverb, "If a little of a 
thing is good, a great deal is better," does not hold 
good at all with our food. We have to take great 
care that, according to the means within our reach, 
that supply of the proper proportions of the organic 
elements which are as necessary to our bodies as fuel 
to a fire, should be kept up. In fact, food is to our 
body exactly what fuel is to a fire. If we choke up 
the range or stove with dust and bricks, the fire will 
go out ; and so, if we persist in supplying the furnace 
of our life with materials which it cannot possibly as- 
similate, or use as fuel, the fire of our lives will die out. 
If people understood, or would even try to understand 
and it is not so difficult as many things uneducated 
people learn quite easily why certain kinds of food 
produce certain conditions of the human frame, there 
would be far less disease. 

The great mistake is to think that actual want of money 
is at the root of the bad food of English labourers. 
It is not so at all. I do not deny the poverty nor the 
toil requisite, alas ! to obtain even the scantiest meal ; 
but anyone with any practical experience of the very 



LESS, in.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 27 



poor of our own country will agree in the assertion 
that perhaps half of that pressure is removable by 
education in the art of making the most of things. I 
have often seen a poor woman who had been com- 
plaining to me of the scarcity of fuel, or the want 
of food, prepare to light her fire, cook her husband's 
dinner, or bake her bread, in the most recklessly 
extravagant manner. So with fish. How often at 
the time of the Irish famine were the charitable 
English public startled by hearing that people were 
starving on a coast swarming with fish ? If it had 
been possible to teach the poor ignorant sufferers, 
that although there was not quite so much nourish- 
ment in fish as in meat, still it would have made a 
palatable and wholesome addition to their starvation 
diet of Indian maize, much distress would have been 
warded off. 

The flesh of fish contains fibrine, albumen, and 
gelatine in small proportions, and fat, water, and 
mineral matter go to make up the rest of the com- 
ponent parts. It is curious to find the difference of 
fat in some fishes, especially mackerel, which pos- 
sesses a very large proportion, herrings coming next 
(some people say first), but at all events they both 
should be cooked in such a way as to get rid of 
as much of this fat as possible. Enough will re- 
main to make the fish nourishing, but if there be 
too much fat it renders fish indigestible. This 
danger needs to be particularly guarded against with 
eels. Haddocks, whiting, smelts, cod, soles, and 



28 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART i. 

turbot are all less fatty, and consequently more 
digestible, than such fish as salmon, pilchards, sprats, 
and mackerel. Raw oysters are more digestible than 
cooked ones, because the heat coagulates and hardens 
the albumen at once, besides making the fibrine too 
solid, and rendering it less easy for the gastric juices 
to dissolve. 

We must bear in mind that the flesh of all fish 
out of season is unwholesome, and often makes people 
ill. I am afraid Mr. Frank Buckland and other true 
lovers of pisciculture would view the sufferings of 
such depraved gourmets with great indifference, and it 
is, indeed, most shocking to the food-economist to 
read of the shoals of baby soles an inch or two 
long, of diminutive oysters, of the ova of the cod, 
the roe of the salmon, and of the fry of the herring, 
which are brought to our markets and readily sold 
in spite of vigilant bye-laws. 

It is not possible in this place to deal with the 
subject of cooking fish : cooking it in such a manner 
that the fat which renders it often unwholesome shall 
be eliminated, and the nourishing and gelatinous por- 
tions of the fleshy substance made the most of. 



LESS, iv.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 29 



LESSON IV. 

VEGETABLES. 

I FEEL that I cannot begin this chapter better than by 
quoting what Dr. Letheby says on the subject : 

" Primarily, all our foods are derived from the vege- 
table kingdom, for no animal has the physiological 
power of associating mineral elements and forming 
them into food. Within our own bodies there is no 
faculty for such conversion ; our province is to pull 
down what the vegetable has built up, and to let loose 
the affinities which the plant has brought into bond- 
age, and thus to restore to inanimate nature the 
matter and force which the growing plant had taken 
from it." 

It is thus plain that the beef and mutton we eat 
derive their fibrine, gluten, and all other necessary 
ingredients from the vegetables on which the oxen 
and sheep have fed, though such food does not ap- 
parently contain any of these substances. It is a 
curious suggestion which I have often met with, that 
if a vegetarian family lived in accordance with the 
rules of one of their own peculiar cookery books, each 
member would actually consume half an ounce more 
animal food a day than a man would do who lived 
according to the usual scale of diet. 

Vegetables are aliments which dilute the blood, and 



30 FIRST LESSON'S IN THE [PART i. 

contain more salts than albumen. They convey very 
little nutriment to the blood, as we may see in the 
feeble muscles of tropic-dwellers who feed almost 
entirely on vegetables. On the other hand, they are 
of great service, first in the digestive canal, where 
they dissolve the albuminous substances of the meat, 
and afterwards in the blood itself, where, if they do 
not actually nourish, they yet keep the albumen and 
fibrine in a liquid state, and enable those substances 
to perform their proper functions more vigorously. 
Of course the cereals would naturally stand first in 
a chapter on vegetables, as they, of all the products 
of the vegetable kingdom, are the most depended 
upon by man for food. As, however, wheat, which 
is the principal cereal of England, has been noticed 
in another chapter, we may as well proceed to ex- 
amine the nutritive properties of other vegetables. 
In such an inquiry the potato comes first, for, 
owing to its large proportion of starch, it is the 
most actually nourishing of all vegetables. This 
starch is transformed into fat by the digestive pro- 
cess, and if potatoes could be eaten with a suffi- 
ciency of white of egg, their nutritive value would 
be brought very near the meat standard. Other 
roots and tubers contain a larger proportion of sugar, 
and there is even fat present in some of them, but 
none are so rich in this nourishing starch as the 
potato. A man may, and probably will, look fat and 
rosy on a potato diet, yet his muscle will not be 
in first-rate condition, nor will he be able to endure 



LESS. TV.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 31 



prolonged fatigue. In spite, therefore, of the com- 
parative low price of potatoes, they are not the most 
economical food for a labourer, nor can he depend on 
their nourishing starch alone to provide him with the 
requisite bodily strength. All succulent vegetables 
are anti-scorbutic, and since the potato was brought 
into use as a daily ration in the fleet (not a hundred 
years ago), scurvy has gradually died out. If there is 
any difficulty in providing potatoes for during long 
voyages, when crossing the tropics, the potatoes 
will begin to grow, and so become unfit for food 
lime-juice is the next best substitute, for it contains 
most of the chemical ingredients which go to make 
the salts of potash found in all fresh vegetables, but 
which is specially present in the potato. It has 
often been pointed out that there is really no 
excuse for scurvy now-a-days, for potatoes, cabbages, 
turnips, and carrots can be pressed into a very 
small space, and yet carry their potash about with 
them. Indeed, this process has lately been carried 
to great perfection. Other vegetables are less actually 
nutritious than the potato, and the palate grows 
sooner tired of them, but yet one hundred pounds of 
potatoes contain barely as much nitrogenous matter, 
that is to say, positive nourishment, as thirteen 
pounds of wheat. 

As the wholesomeness and digestibility of vege- 
tables depend much on how they are cooked, it is 
perhaps useless to enter here into a longer expla- 
nation why vegetables, though they constitute the 



7.7 FIRST LESSON'S IN COOKING. [PART I. 

entire food of animals whose flesh contains the 
highest forms of nourishment, will not, of them- 
selves, supply man with the food he requires to 
keep his muscles strong and vigorous. In the coun- 
tries where the inhabitants are compelled by the 
necessities of the climate to live chiefly on them, 
Nature is so bountiful that she does not call upon 
man to cultivate the ground as we are obliged to do. 
Therefore, it stands to reason that in a climate where 
severe manual labour is necessary to produce food, a 
diet of a muscle-relaxing, fat-forming nature is a very 
poor economy. 



PART II. 

THE BES7 MODES OF PREPARING SOME SOR7S 
OF FOOD FOR USE, WITH A SIMPLE EXPLA 
NATION OF 7 HEIR RESPECTIVE ACTIONS. 



PART II. 

REMARKS. 

THE very first principle of cooking is cleanliness. 
No skill or flavouring can make up for the lack of it, 
and if it be present, there is good hope of every other 
culinary virtue. But cleanliness is an elastic term, and 
I wish it to be clearly understood that I would fain 
stretch its interpretation to the utmost limit. Even the 
sacred frying-pan would I ruthlessly scour, all unheed- 
ing the old-fashioned, and, let us add, dirty axiom, that 
\t should be left with the fat in it. It is quite true 
that the fat which has been used to fry potatoes, or 
fritters, or anything except fish, may be poured out of 
the saucepan into a daintily clean basin or empty 
jam-pot and used again and again, but I would have 
every cook taught to clean her frying-pan thoroughly 
every time she uses it. The fat in which fish has 
been fried should never be used for frying anything 
else, and an economical housewife will take care that 
the fish is fried last. I have sometimes been met 
with the assertion that it is too much trouble and 
takes too much time to keep everything in a kitchen 
as clean as it ought to be kept. To that I reply, 
that if a girl be brought up by a tidy mother or 
mistress to understand and appreciate the value and 

D 2 



36 FIRST LESSONS TN THE [PART n. 

beauty of cleanliness, she will never be able to endure I 
any other state of things. I declare that I have ob- i 
served greater dirt among the saucepans and a deeper 
shade of black over everything in kitchens where 
neither poverty nor want of time could be pleaded 
in excuse, than in a place where one pair of willing 
hands has had to keep the living-room of half a 
dozen people tidy. 

I am not sure that I do not detest surface-cleanli- 
ness, with its deceptive whiteness, more than genuine 
honest dirt about which there is no concealment, for 
the sham snowiness is apt to throw youthful house- 
keepers off their guard. For their encouragement 
I can assure them that it is not such a superhuman 
task as it appears to see that everything under their 
sceptre is kept scrupulously clean, for the advantages 
of cleanliness over dirt are as patent as light over 
darkness, and ninety-nine servants out of a hundred 
will soon come to acknowledge this themselves. 
People of all ranks and classes differ in this respect 
according to their instincts and training, and in many 
a fine house a dirty cook would find things more 
after her own heart than in a two-roomed cottage. 

Let us, for a moment, take the case of a girl who has 
been a housemaid or nursemaid in a small family, and 
who marries a decent young artisan earning from 15^. 
to 25^. a week. Here is enough money for comfort 
i/ the wife knows how to manage and is clean and 
tidy in herself. How far will that, or twice that sum, 
go if she be an ignorant slattern ? The chances are 



REMARKS.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 37 

that such a girl knows absolutely nothing of cooking, 
and that she will have to arrive at even the smallest 
amount of such knowledge through a long series of 
unpalatable meals and wasted food. Perhaps it may 
be years before she attains to the production of any 
dish which can fairly be called wholesome or nourish- 
ing ; but surely she is not to be blamed for her igno- 
rance. She has gone straight from her school to a 
situation whose duties have never taken her into the 
kitchen, and she finds herself at twenty-five years of 
age at the head of a working man's home, with no 
more notion of how to manage their income comfort- 
ably than if she were an infant. She has hitherto 
had no opportunity of learning how to cook ; but if 
she has been taught to be thoroughly clean and tidy 
in her habits and ways, she may rest assured that half 
the battle is won. The other half, the National School 
of Cookery at South Kensington steps in to help 
her to win, and it is to be hoped that in due time, 
by the establishment of branch institutions all over 
the kingdom, by means of lectures and demonstra- 
tions (for cooking cannot be taught by theory), any 
young woman in such a position will know where to 
go if she wants to learn how to cook the food her 
husband's wages enable her to provide. But clean- 
liness she must teach herself, and practise it diligently 
in her little kitchen, for without it she can never be a 
good cook, no matter how successful she be in the 
matter of bread, or how deftly she may handle her 
frying or sauce pan. 



38 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 



LESSON V. 

THE PREPARATIONS OF FLOUR USED AS FOOD. 

IT is well known that so far as actual nutritive power 
goes, both oats and barley, to say nothing of maize, 
rye, the millets, and rice, contain as much (oats, 
indeed, more) valuable material for the maintenance 
of the human body as wheat does ; that is to say, 
they all contain certain proportions of starch, protein, 
or the nutritive ingredient, represented by oily or 
fatty matter, besides sundry saline particles. All these 
are indispensable to the building up of the human 
body. Why then do we find wheat more cultivated 
and used in greater quantities by all the civilized 
nations than any of the other cereals? The only 
reason can be that wheaten flour alone, of all these 
farinaceous foods, will make fermented bread. 

I used at one time to think that bread-making must 
be the very simplest thing in the world, but when I 
came to be face to face with flour and yeast I found 
it was not so easy a matter to produce light good 
bread. These pages are not written therefore for 
the instruction of bakers or those fortunate people 
who have learned, at an age and under circumstances 
when learning is easy, how to make bread, but with 



LESS, v.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 39 

the hope that they may prove ever so slight a prac- 
tical help to those who are as profoundly ignorant as 
I was, not so long ago. 

First of all the yeast has to be thought of. When 
near a town this thorn in the path of the anxious 
bread-maker is removed by the facility with which 
brewer's or ready-prepared baker's yeast can be pro- 
cured. Brewer's yeast is simply the scum which rises 
to the top of the malt during the process of fer- 
mentation, and is of no use to the beer, or wort. The 
brewer is therefore glad to dispose of it, and the 
baker takes it off his hands. But he does not put it 
raw into his bread. A special ferment is first ob- 
tained from mealy potatoes, by boiling them in water, 
mashing them, and allowing them to cool to a tem- 
perature of about 80 of Fahrenheit. Yeast is then 
added to them, and in a few hours they will get into a 
state of active fermentation with a sort of cauliflower 
head. Water should now be gently poured into this 
mixture, and it must be strained, after which a very 
little flour should be lightly sprinkled into it. In 
five or six hours the whole will rise to a fine sponge, 
when more water must be added, and a little salt, 
and then the yeast is fit to use. It may now be 
bottled, but it is not advisable to make a great deal 
at a time. On account of the fermentation, yeast- 
bottles can only be kept from bursting by plugging 
their mouths with soft paper or cotton-wool. If 
neither the fresh yeast from the brewers (which will 
not keep by itself for more than a day or two) or the 



40 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 

dried yeast, which keeps a long time, can be ob- 
tained, then it will be necessary to boil some dried 
nops in a very little water, put some sugar to them, 
and add this compound when in a state of fer- 
mentation to the mashed potatoes instead of the 
brewer's yeast. 

Having procured or made the yeast, the next thing 
is to put the flour in a large tin milk-pan, make a 
hole in the centre of the soft white heap, and pour in 
a small capful of yeast mixed with a large cupful of 
warm water. A little of the flour is stirred in to this 
liquid so as to make it rather more of a paste, and 
then the whole is covered with a clean cloth and set 
to -work during the whole night. Great care must be 
taken not to put it in too hot a place, as it will be- 
come dry and crusty in the morning, and make heavy, 
tasteless bread. On the other hand, if the tempera- 
ture be too low, the flour will be dull and cold, the 
mixture will not have penetrated it, and the bread 
will not rise. But, supposing that the happy medium 
has been hit, and that the gas contained in the yeast 
has made its subtle way among the flour, then more 
water must be added by degrees and a very little 
salt. The whole mass should then be lightly kneaded 
by very clean hands, and when it has attained a cer- 
tain elastic consistency it should be quickly cut into 
separate portions, dropped into well-floured tins (only 
half fill them with the dough), which must instantly 
be placed in the oven. The oven should be fairly 
hot to begin with, and its heat increased until the 



LESS, v.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 41 

end. From time to time a clean knife should be 
thrust into the loaf ; if it comes out with a tarnish on 
the bright blade, as though it had been breathed upon, 
then the bread is not sufficiently baked, and there is 
no use in taking it out of the oven until the knife 
can be readily drawn out with a perfectly undimmed 
surface. The real art of bread-making consists in the 
dough not being too stiff at first to resist the entrance 
of the gas, nor too soft to permit the gas to pass 
through it quickly. It should also be sufficiently 
kneaded so that the gas may become well distributed 
throughout the mass, yet not over-kneaded, in which 
case a good deal of it will have escaped, and the 
bread will consequently be heavy. 

The difference between biscuits and bread is that 
there is no yeast in the composition of the former; 
they are also for the most part unleavened and very 
highly dried. Though valuable as a temporary substi- 
tute for bread, they can never be so wholesome from 
the absence of the water which is absorbed in the 
process of drying or baking. Biscuits should invari- 
ably be taken with ever so small a quantity of liquid, 
for by themselves they either absorb too much fluid 
from the juices of the stomach, and so produce in- 
digestion, or they fail to obtain as much fluid as they 
require from those sources, and therefore remain a 
long time undigested. Cakes are made by the substi- 
tution of soda or carbonic acid for yeast, and the 
addition of sugar, fat, and eggs. Of all these mate- 
rials the sugar is the wholesomest and should be the 



42 FIRST LESSON'S IN THE [PART n. 

most freely used. The other ingredients are more 
difficult of digestion. 

Before leaving the subject of bread, it will be as 
well to notice the extraordinary difference between 
batches of bread. It is no reason because a house- 
hold receives excellent bread one week either from 
the baker's shop or its own kitchen that the next 
week's baking will not be heavy and bad. This is 
because we trust so entirely to the good old rule of 
thumb in our kitchens, scorning to make the tempera- 
ture of the oven a certainty by means of a thermo- 
meter. Half, and more than half, of the hard baking 
and the over or under boiling and frying with which 
we are afflicted arises from the extraordinary prejudice 
which exists against the daily use of this indispen- 
sable little instrument. It is the only reliable way of 
making sure of the oven, or the water, or the fat 
being of exactly the right temperature ; and yet what 
cook who " respects herself " would at present deign 
to use a thermometer, still less even a charming little 
contrivance which has been invented specially for her 
use, and is called a frimometer ? 

But to touch upon some of the other uses of flour. 
We are apt to look upon macaroni as a luxury for 
the tables of the rich, when it is really so low in price 
that it is within the reach of those who have any 
choice at all as to what they shall eat. It is considered 
a foreign composition, unworthy to take a place among 
the more solid flesh-formers dear to the heart of the 
Englishman ; but if he understood what it is made 



LESS, v.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 43 

from, he might perhaps modify his contempt for one 
of the most nourishing and wholesome forms in which 
he can eat wheaten flour. Macaroni, then, is made 
by the simplest imaginable process, and there is 
no reason in the world why its manufacture should 
not be carried on in- England, as indeed it is. The 
finest wheaten flour is made into a peculiar smooth 
paste or dough, and afterwards driven through a cylin- 
der which cuts it into ribands or tubes. Wheaten 
flour contains, of course, precisely the same amount of 
nourishment, whether it be made into bread or into the 
pasta from which macaroni is cut ; but whereas bread 
can scarcely be cooked again (except as toast), there 
are many ways in which macaroni can be dressed so 
as to form a delicious food. Simply boiled with milk 
and a little sugar it would be a wholesome and agree- 
able change in children's diet, and we must remember 
that for children who are born with soft bones that 
is, with too little phosphate of lime in their bones a 
diet of wheat will tend, more than anything else, to 
form this deposit. When I say wheat, I include maca- 
roni therefore, and semolina, which is the very small 
grain left after grinding wheat in a coarse mill. Such 
a mode of grinding gives but a small proportion of 
flour, and a certain larger residue of coarse flour or 
fine grains, and these grains are known as " semolina." 
They are chiefly obtained from the most nourishing 
of all the wheats, the red-grained wheat grown in 
Southern Europe, and especially in the Danubian 
Principalities. 

OF THE 



44 FIRST LESSONS IN THE PART n. 

LESSON VI. 

POTATOES AND OTHER VEGETABLES. 

ALTHOUGH it is rather a departure from the plan I 
pursued in the First Part to speak in this lesson 
about potatoes, it is natural to me to do it, because, 
so far as my practical experience which was once 
/Vz-experience, remember goes, it is almost as difficult 
to boil a potato properly as to bake good bread. 
In the first place, we have one of the highest chemical 
authorities on our side for saying that on both whole- 
some and economical grounds potatoes should always 
be boiled in their skins. They do not look quite so 
well if they have to be peeled afterwards, but not only 
is the actual material wasted by the process of peel- 
ing especially where there are no pigs to eat the 
peelings but a great deal of the starchy substance, 
which is exactly what makes the potato so nourishing, 
is wasted. In roasted or baked potatoes, which have 
been peeled before cooking, the loss in weight from 
the skin and the drying is actually a quarter of 
the whole. It is curious to learn that potatoes 
which come to us from the bog lands of Ireland 
are far less watery and produce more starch than 
those which are grown on the dry, light soils of 
Yorkshire. This innate dryness is one reason why 
the Irish potato contains so much more nourishment 



LESS, vi.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 45 

than an English one. The potato was first grown by 
Sir Walter Raleigh in his garden at Youghal, in Ire- 
land, and it is not much more than a century since 
its cultivation became general in England. The first 
potatoes grown in England came from a ship wrecked 
on Formby Point, near Liverpool. The tubers were 
planted by chance on the soil close by, which closely 
resembled that of Ireland, and no part of their new 
home has ever suited them better. The potato, 
though, as we have seen, of a certain appreciable 
value as a flesh-former, is not to be depended upon 
entirely as a force-producer, for the proportion of 
water in 100 parts is 75*2. Next to water, its pe- 
culiarly nourishing starch is most largely represented, 
and stands at 15*5. From this starch also a pasta 
can be made which gives a fair macaroni, but of 
course the advantages of the wheaten paste would 
be absent. 

In ordinary kitchens where a steamer is used, the 
process of boiling a potato is easy enough, and that 
dry mealiness dear to the heart of a good cook can 
be reckoned upon. But if only a saucepan be attain- 
able, then, having well washed nay, even scrubbed 
and brushed your potatoes, put them into it with 
cold water ; add a little salt when the water boils ; 
at first it should only be allowed to boil slowly, but 
it may boil as fast as you like during the last five 
minutes. Some varieties of the potato can be cooked 
much sooner than others ; there is often the difference 
between them of twenty minutes and three-quarters 



46 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 

of an hour. From time to time they must be tried 
with a fork, which should go in freely when they are 
sufficiently boiled. The potatoes being now cooked 
enough, pour off as much water as can possibly be 
got rid of. Sprinkle a little more salt, take off the 
lid of the saucepan and set it on again in such a 
manner that the steam can escape, but keep the sauce- 
pan for a few minutes on the oven to dry the potatoes 
thoroughly. The saucepan should be lightly shaken 
from time to time to prevent the potatoes sticking to 
the bottom. Then serve either in a wooden bowl, 
with a clean cloth or a napkin, or else in a dish with 
perforated holes in the cover so that the vapour can 
escape. If potatoes form the principal diet of a family, 
eggs should be added where practicable, and milk, or 
dripping, or any sort of fat, as the potato itself is very 
deficient in albumen and fat. 

Next to the potato, the cabbage is the most widely 
cultivated of all vegetables, yet it is far inferior to 
the others in the nutriment contained in a given 
weight. In point of value the parsnip ranks next 
to the potato as a flesh-former, and possesses six 
per cent, of carbon. Parsnips are followed closely by 
carrots and onions, though the latter are principally 
used as a relish. But all vegetables are chiefly valu- 
able for their anti-scorbutic properties, and as a 
flavouring for insipid food. Lentils are particularly 
nutritious, and the food sold under the name of "Reva- 
lenta Arabica" is only the meal of the lentil after 
being, freed from its indigestible outer skin. In peas 



LESS, vi.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 47 



we find a great deal of caseine ; hence, in an analy- 
tical table they rank next to wheat as a flesh and 
force-producer, whereas we should find the other 
vegetables relegated under the head of " Non-nitro- 
genous substances," that is to say, substances which, 
taken by themselves without milk, butter, or fat of 
any kind, are absolutely incapable of producing either 
flesh or force. In Ireland it is the milk taken with 
the potato which makes it so nourishing. If potatoes 
were eaten quite alone, the consumer would need to 
eat an enormous quantity to keep himself in any sort 
of condition, and he would never be able to do any 
amount of real hard work in the open air. 

It is quite certain that sufficient value is not 
attached in England to the importance of the culti- 
vation of vegetables. If a few leeks or sweet herbs, 
a row of potatoes, or a dozen cabbages, were planted 
in many a tiny spot beside a cottage door, which spot 
at present is but a puddle or a down-trodden mass 01 
caked mud, the hungry mouths inside would stand a 
better chance of being filled. When a poor woman 
has to go with her pence in her hand and buy every 
onion or potato or sprig of thyme which she wants 
to improve the flavour of the family meal, the chances 
are she will look upon them and very justly, too as 
luxurious additions to the bill of fare, and do without 
them as much as possible. All over France the 
poorest peasant has her " flavourings " close to her 
hand ; and it is difficult to over-estimate the boon 
which a few common vegetables and herbs are, when 



48 FfRST LESSONS IN THE [PART IT. 

used to assist in converting a scrap of bacon, a bone, 
and a little pea-meal into a warm, comforting, nou- 
rishing mid-day meal. 

Mr. Ruskin attaches great importance to the culti- 
vation of the land the making the best of every inch 
of our own native soil ; but I fear he wants to try 
experiments, and grow all sorts of curious things in 
every conceivable part of the British Isles, whereas I 
only confine my ambition to those little shabby nooks 
and odds and ends of ground which lurk around stray 
cottages, whose occupants evidently prefer sitting in 
the tap-room of the " Chequers" to digging for an hour 
in a scrap of garden morning and evening. Perhaps, 
if, in time, we are able to show the working man 
how enormously his culinary comfort can be increased 
by a little vegetable flavouring, he may take to plant- 
ing and cultivating even a square rood of ground, if 
that be all he can call his own. I say nothing of 
the gain to health, for that is so easily ascertained by 
his own or his neighbour's experience. The seeds 
of common vegetables are very easily procured in 
fact, they can almost be had for the asking ; and, at 
all events, one day's beer-money would go a long 
way towards keeping a family in onions for a year if 
laid out in seed. A little soup or stew thus flavoured 
without extra expense, would surely be a vast gain on 
the hunch of dry bread and mug of weak, cold coffee, 
which I have often seen a labourer eating for his 
dinner. Then there only remains the trouble to be 
considered ; and a lazy man will have to make twice 



LESS, vi.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 49 

as much exertion in the long run to keep body and 
soul together. 

I repeat: it is not actual money which is abso- 
lutely wanting in such cases. It is that the few pence 
are generally laid out in the most improvident way 
in a way which becomes gross extravagance when it 
is contrasted with what the same pittance would pro- 
duce if properly managed. I have no hope of this 
little book, or any other book, great or small, working 
a miraculous and thorough reform, and converting 
every cottage in the country into a smiling abode 
of peace and plenty. What I do aim at and look 
forward to is, first, to arouse attention to the subject in 
those whose social rank is above that of the hand-to- 
mouth working man ; and next, to induce rich people 
to take as much trouble and spend as much money 
in providing their servants and workmen with the 
opportunity of learning how to cook their food, as 
they now do in teaching them and their children to 
read and write. 

Mr. Ruskin, in his " Fors Clavigera," insists very 
strongly that in his model farm, his land bought out 
of the proceeds of the " St. George's Fund," every 
girl shall be taught " at a proper age to cook all 
ordinary food exquisitely." But I would go a step 
beyond, and I would have every boy taught also. I 
don't know about the cooking exquisitely ! I should 
be satisfied, at first, if every boy and girl could be 
taught to cook even a little. For a knowledge of 
cooking, at all events in its simplest form, appears to 





50 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 



me to be every whit as necessary for a man, if he 
is to move about the world at all, as it is for a girl. 
If the man does not move about, and is fortunate 
enough to marry a girl trained and taught cooking 
either at Mr. Ruskin's model farm or at the National 
School of Cookery, then he may forget, or lay aside, 
his culinary lore as quickly as he pleases ! But if he 
emigrates, or enlists as a soldier, or does any of the 
hundred and one things which men are obliged to 
do in these busy days, the chances are that he will 
find ever so slight a knowledge of cooking a very 
great boon and blessing to him. 

One thing is very puzzling to me, though I know 
not why it should be brought in apropos of vegetables. 
It is the staunch conservatism, where food or cooking 
is concerned, of the working classes of England. In 
politics they are very often to a man, nay, even to a 
woman, advanced Liberals, to say the least of it. They 
are much more ready to advocate and adopt sweep- 
ing changes in things of which, after all, they cannot 
know a great deal ; but they distrust anyone who 
suggests that they could improve the matters which 
lie close around them, and with which they are at 
least familiar. " My ould grandmother did it that 
way, and she lived till ninety," is an unanswerable 
argument against making the scrap of meat into a 
pot-au-feu, and adding vegetables and meat to it, 
instead of frizzling and burning the same scanty 
portion of meat in a greasy frying-pan over a smoky 
fire. I feel persuaded, therefore, that the great 



LESS, vii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. $i 



reform in cooking and economic management of our 
food-material must begin in the classes above the 
working man. When he sees and learns by experi- 
ence that an ounce of meat, properly dressed, will go 
further in actual nourishment and strength-imparting 
qualities than two ounces heated in his old barbarous 
method, he may perhaps be induced to consent to 
his "missis " or the "gals " being "learned" how to 
cook. My own private hope and I would almost 
say expectation is, that an increase in the artisan's 
or the working man's comfort at home, such comfort 
as better cooked food and more of it must surely 
oring, will lead to his wages finding their way 
oftener into the butcher's shop than the public-house. 
A well-fed man is very seldom a drunkard ; and it 
may be that in the spread and development of an 
attempt at culinary reform, two birds may, all un- 
consciously, be killed with one stone. In improving 
cottage comforts we may perhaps strike a great blow 
(with our frying-pans and soup-kettles !) at the shining 
glasses and quart pots of the gin-palace. God grant 
that it be so ! 



LESSON VII. 

MODES OF PREPARING BROTH OR SOUP FROM BEEF. 

THE reason I have placed this subject in a separate 
lesson is because of its enormous importance in 
the sick-room. More delicate children are reared 

E 2 



52 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 

into health and strength, and more lives are saved, 
by good beef-tea than most of us have any idea 
of. This is the more extraordinary when we re- 
member that even the strongest and best beef-tea 
contains an almost infinitesimal amount of actual 
nourishment. So that it is not to its capacity for 
supplying to the wasted and feeble human frame 
either strength or nourishment that we must attribute 
its wonderful efficacy. If the strongest beef-tea be 
analysed, the meat would be found to have lost in 
the process of turning into liquid nearly all its albu- 
men, fibrin e, and caseine. In other words, it would 
have parted with its most important constituents ; 
and we might suppose it therefore to be valueless 
to the human system. But Experience steps in where 
Chemistry stops and shakes her head, and Experience 
declares that well-made beef-tea possesses a reparative 
power on a weakened digestion which nothing else in 
the world except milk can come near. It may not 
actually contain all the elements of nourishment within 
itself, as milk does, but it is a wonderful assimilator. 
It soothes and repairs and collects the enfeebled 
organs and juices, and enables them to return to 
their proper functions. Therefore we say that beef-tea 
is nourishing, when it is not in the least nourishing 
in itself, but it has the power of making ready for 
other substances to nourish. 

Although every sort of meat can be made into 
soup or broth, bee makes the best and wholesomest. 
For one reason of this we must search in the fibrin e, 



LESS. vii.J PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 53 

which holds more red juice than that of any other 
meat, and it is this red juice which we particularly 
want. Everybody knows that the leanest meat is the 
best for soup-making ; the least particle of fat is out 
of place in broth or soups, and indeed renders it 
absolutely unwholesome as well as nauseous. 

In many emergencies beef-tea has to be prepared 
at almost a moment's notice, and then I would re- 
commend that the meat be as thoroughly freed from 
fat as possible, chopped finely, and soaked in its own 
weight of cold water for ten minutes or so. Then 
heat it slowly to boiling-point, let it boil for two or 
three minutes, and you will have a strong and deli- 
cious beef-tea, better than can be obtained by boiling 
in the ordinary way for many hours. Another method 
is to place the finely-chopped meat in a large, clean 
jam-pot, with a little water and a pinch of salt. 
The mouth of the vessel should be closed by means 
of a tightly-tied bladder or a thick paste all over it, 
as if it were a meat-pudding, and placed in a sauce- 
pan half full of cold water. The saucepan should 
then be covered with its own lid and set upon or by 
the side of the fire to simmer slowly. If there be no 
time to let the beef- tea or essence in the jam-pot get 
cold, it must be skimmed as clearly as possible, and 
any extra globules of fat floating on the surface re- 
moved by a careful application of white blotting 
paper. Some people do not add any water at all to 
the cut-up beef, under the impression that the essence 
must be stronger without the addition. But my indi- 



54 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 

vidual experience teaches me that whereas the differ- 
ence in nutritive value is very slight, sick people do 
not like the beef-tea thus prepared, and will not take 
it so readily as when it has been made after the fol- 
lowing manner. It is necessary, however, to state 
that the process I am now going to describe cannot be 
hurried, and that it is therefore imperative to have 
one day's notice when beef-tea made in this way is 
required. 

Take two or three pounds of the leanest beef to 
be procured, add one quart of water, and two shank 
bones of mutton, which bones should be well washed 
before using. A pinch of salt, and another pinch of 
grated lemon-peel, or a tiny bit of the peel itself, are all 
I should add, for a sick person's throat is generally 
too tender for pepper, and his palate too delicate for 
anything like flavouring or sauces. The lean meat 
and shank bones are to be put into a saucepan, whose 
white enamelled lining should be daintily and scrupu- 
lously clean, and the saucepan, with its lid fitting very 
close indeed, set by the side of a moderately good 
fire to simmer slowly the whole day long. It must 
never approach boiling, and yet the action of fire 
upon its contents should be decided, though gentle. 
At the last moment before shutting up for the night, 
strain the soup through a fine hair sieve into a clean 
basin, and in the morning you should find, beneath a 
preserving scum of fat, about a pint of clear, solid, 
beef jelly, which can either be eaten cold, or warmed, 
without the addition of one drop of water, into a deli- 



LESS, vii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 55 

cious <r/#z;z-tasting cup of beef-tea. In cold weather 
double the quantity may be made, but in that case 
it should be poured into two basins, and the fat left 
to hermetically seal the second basin until it be wanted 
in its turn for use. In hot weather the beef-tea should 
be prepared fresh every day for the next day's con- 
sumption, I have seen beef-tea rendered perfectly 
colourless and white by repeated strainings through 
fine muslin sieves, but I do not know that this is any 
particular advantage. 

In some cases, such as the terrible state of the 
intestines after typhoid fever, beef-tea is no use as a 
reparative agent when prepared after the above fashion. 
The meat should then not be cooked at all, only 
cut up as lean and fresh and full of red juice as pos- 
sible, and soaked for ten or twelve hours in a small 
quantity of cold water. This will give a liquid which 
has never been submitted to the action of fire, and 
which looks and tastes like the gravy of under-done 
meat, but it is of the highest reparative value to the 
lacerated stomach. A judicious nurse will take care 
that her patient never sees this sort of beef-tea until 
he has learned to drink it freely, which he will do if 
not at first disgusted by the sight of the clear red fluid. 

I have dwelt thus minutely on the value and process 
of making beef-tea because I believe it to be the 
strongest resource of the culinary art in sickness ; but 
the proper preparation of soup is of great importance 
in all households. It is at once an economical, whole- 
some and savoury form of nourishing food ; yet, to 






56 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART u. 



many a plain cook, soup, unless she has costly ma- 
terials bought expressly for its manufacture, merely 
means greasy hot water flavoured by a soup$on of plate- 
washing ! No soup should be used the same day it is 
made, on account of the impossibility of removing all 
the scum and fat. But, supposing that a scrag end of 
mutton, or the trimmings of cutlets, or bones with a 
fair amount of meat left on, should have been sim- 
mering gently all the preceding day, and allowed to 
get cold at night, so that the layer of fat (which can 
be used for other purposes) is easily removed, then we 
should proceed this way, always imagining it is wanted 
for the use of a poor and economical family. To the 
clear, fat-free soup, add half a tea-cupful of well-washed 
pearl barley or rice and we must remember that the 
inferior and cheaper kind of rice does just as well as 
the best for this purpose a few cleaned and cut-up 
vegetables, a little onion, pepper and salt, a sprig or 
two of herbs tied together, a little pea-meal, any cold 
potatoes left from yesterday's dinner, and the whole 
allowed to simmer together, without removing the 
remains of the meat and bones, until it be wanted, 
great care being taken that it should not boil away. 
The result of this simmering ought to be a nice, warm, 
comforting, <r/#z;/-tasting basin of broth, very different 
to the weak, greasy liquid which results from a hastier 
preparation. It is a very common mistake with all 
cooks, except the very best, to put too much water 
in the first instance to their materials for soup, and 
so produce a good deal of weak, tasteless meat-tea, 



LESS, vii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 57 

instead of a smaller quantity of strong, good soup. 
English people do not use macaroni half so freely as 
they might, for, apart from its nutritive value as offer- 
ing such a pure form of wheaten flour, it is exceed- 
ingly cheap. Boiled with ever so little soup made in 
the way just described (before the addition of the rice 
or vegetables), it would form an excellent and whole- 
some change to the smallest bill of fare. 

All cooks prefer beef to anything else for making 
soup, but a very nourishing and delicate broth can be 
made from two parts of veal and one part of lean beef, 
or from chicken or rabbit, though the latter is not 
advisable for sick people. Everyone knows the value 
of good, fat-cleared mutton broth such as I have just 
described, but there is a good deal of truth in the 
instinct which leads the sick person to prefer beef- tea, 
and the healthy labouring man to buy a couple of 
pounds of beef instead of double the quantity of any 
other meat. Beef contains most iron, which in the 
state of oxide is one of the chief constituents of the 
blood : and we must bear in mind that the nutriment 
of all carnivorous animals is derived from the blood 
originally. A diet, therefore, to be strengthening, 
must contain a certain amount of iron, and we do 
not obtain this so readily from any other meat as 
from beef. 



58 FtRST LESSONS IN THE [PART 11. 



LESSON VIII. 

FUEL AND FIRE. 

THE object of cooking is to render the flesh of ani- 
mals and vegetable substances easier of mastication, 
and therefore easier of digestion. How this object 
is carried out in most English households let each 
declare for himself. And yet there is nothing in the 
world so simple and so certain in its effects as the 
action of fire upon food, if only we can learn to apply 
and to regulate that action according to certain laws. 
I propose therefore to devote a short lesson to each 
of the simplest processes of cooking. 

But before doing so I may be permitted here to 
say a word or two about the management of the 
kitchen fire. Few ladies, or even those servants whose 
duties lie entirely upstairs, and who see a bright or 
blazing fire every time they go into the kitchen, can 
have any idea how difficult a thing it is to keep up a 
good fire all day. When I say a " good fire/' I mean 
a good cooking fire a clear, bright fire, which, with- 
out being a roaring furnace, shall yet be equal to any 
emergency. It can only be managed by constant 
small additions of coal, unless a great deal of cooking 
is imminent, and then of course more fuel must be 
added each time. But a really good cook will so con- 
trive as to have a small, bright fire all day long, even 



LESS, viii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 59 

when she is not actually cooking. Whenever I hear 
that a bit of bread cannot be toasted, or a cup of soup 
warmed, because the fire has "just been made up," I 
know what has happened. The cook has allowed 
the fire ,to burn down to the last bar of the grate, 
and then she has emptied half a coal-scuttle on the 
few live embers. For about two hours, therefore, it 
is useless to expect any cooking from that fire, and it 
will be fortunate if no sudden call be made for its 
services. Now, if the cook had watched her fire, and 
had kept it supplied from time to time with small 
portions of coal, this emergency would never ha.ve 
arisen. She could screw up her fireplace to very 
small dimensions and yet keep an excellent fire, fit for 
any unexpected demand. It is doubtful whether, 
when she acts on the momentary impulse of trying to 
make up for lost time, a cook has any idea of the 
mischief she does. Letting the kitchen fire, burn 
low and then flinging on coals, is not only an incon- 
venient, but it is a recklessly extravagant proceeding. 
The fire and fireplace have become thoroughly chilled, 
and the fresh fuel evaporates almost entirely in the 
form of smoke for a long time before the remainder is 
in a state to use for cooking. 

If this rule of preventing waste by constantly add- 
ing small portions of fuel were better understood and 
acted upon, cooks would not have such a bitter preju- 
dice against the use of coke. It is, of course, abso- 
lutely valueless to a half-extinguished fire, especially 
when, instead of being put on in small quantities, it 



60 fIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 

is flung on in shovelfuls. But to an already clear, 
well-established fire, nothing is so satisfactory or 
economical an addition as a few lumps of coke 
judiciously put on. If frying or broiling is to be 
done, the fire cannot be too clear, and coke, if it be 
properly managed, will give the clearest fire in the 
world, but then it requires a certain amount of intelli- 
gence and willingness on the part of the cook to use it 
to advantage. When I use the word cook, I do not 
mean only a regular servant, but any young woman 
who is acting, for perhaps the first time in her life, the 
part of cook in her husband's, or father's, or brother's 
house. She will find her culinary labours much sim- 
plified if she keeps the needs of the kitchen fire 
always before her mind. I don't mean to say that 
such a one may not what is called "make up" her 
fire, and leave it untouched between breakfast and 
dinner, and dinner and tea, because the chances are 
a hundred to one she will not need it, and her duties 
probably call her elsewhere ; but a cook in a house 
where there is a family, and perhaps sickness, or even 
very young children, ought never for one moment to 
forget or neglect her fire all through the day. 

I could give her scientific reasons about radiation, 
and use many long words to prove to her why, if she 
keeps her grate well blacked arid polished, she will 
find her fire burns better and gives out more heat, but 
I prefer to appeal to everybody's experience and com- 
mon sense if such warmth and brilliancy be not the 
result of a beautifully clean and shining fireplace. 



LESS, viii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 61 

To Sir Benjamin Thomson (an English knight and 
an American by birth, but better known to us by his 
Bavarian title of Count Rumford) we owe perhaps 
more improvement in the economical management of 
fuel and the construction of stoves and fireplaces, 
with due regard to that economy, than to anyone else 
in modern times. He was induced to turn his atten- 
tion to the subject by the scarcity of fuel on the Con- 
tinent, and his ideas naturally expanded and enlarged 
themselves by constant practice. At last he suc- 
ceeded in inventing a method of heating houses and 
of cooking food which did not require much more 
than half the usual amount of fuel, and this economy 
in firing became such a mania with him that the joke 
of the day used to be that his highest ambition was 
to be able to cook his own dinner by means of his 
neighbour's smoke. 

However that may have been, it is very certain that 
to Count Rumford we owe a great increase of our 
knowledge on such subjects, and the reason I mention 
him particularly in this place is that he never seemed 
to weary of insisting on the necessity of a well-kept 
brightly-blacked fireplace to the due economy of the 
fuel used in it. He explained incessantly how that 
kind of heat which is absorbed by either black or 
white surfaces is totally devoid of light, and may 
almost be considered as pure, radiant heat. So that 
the first point to be taught, in ever so humble a 
kitchen, is that the fireplace should be exquisitely 
clean, besides well and brightly blacked, in order to 



62 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART n. 

give the fuel which will be used in it a fair chance of 
giving out, by radiation, every particle of its latent 
heat. 

The next thing to be considered is the division and 
arrangement of that fuel, beginning from even the 
starting-point of lighting the fire. A careful house- 
wife careful either on her own account or her mis- 
tress's will only use half as much wood or shavings to 
start her fire with as a thriftless one, because she will 
take trouble to learn that there is a scientific but 
perfectly simple mode of laying and lighting a fire. 
She will be told in theory, and prove for herself by 
practice, that she must thoroughly clear out her grate, 
clean and brighten it up to the highest pitch, and then 
place in it whatever is her lightest material, her paper, 
or dry grass, or shavings, whatever she has at her 
command. Next come the slender twigs or dried 
sprays of heather of the country, or the neatly- cut 
firewood of the town. Unless all this is thoroughly 
dried over-night, it will be worse than useless, and 
it is in attention to details of this sort that true 
economy consists. A damp bundle of wood or twigs 
will smoulder, and be consumed without making any 
appreciable difference in the state of the fire, whereas 
half the quantity, when thoroughly dry, will start a 
satisfactory blaze in a few minutes. Then should the 
cinders be thoroughly and carefully sifted ; and now- 
a-days I have no hesitation in saying this is as im- 
peratively necessary in a palace as in a cottage, on 
account of the increased price of coal. No cinders 



LESS, vin J PRINCIPLES Oi^Q&KW\^ ' 63 

should be relegated to the dus thole at all, for every- 
thing, except actual dust or the hard flakes (called 
clinkers) left by coke, can be used. The largest 
cinders may be laid lightly on the logs of the blazing 
sticks, the smaller ones being thrown up, later, at the 
back. Cinders are the best material in the world for 
starting a fire, and even small lumps of coal should 
only be sparingly used at first. Above all, a beginner 
should be taught that her fire will never light or burn 
up if she does not take care to establish a free circula- 
tion of air beneath. I am, of course, speaking of 
ordinary open fireplaces. Stoves and other patent fire- 
places are generally constructed on entirely different 
principles, and require special instruction for the 
management of their fuel, but this is easily obtained 
from the person who fixes them. 

Taking it for granted, then, that our ideal cook 
thoroughly understands how to light her fire, and is 
impressed with a due sense of the importance of a 
well-blacked shining kitchen-range, or humbler tiny 
fireplace the rule is the same everywhere and that 
she is one of those capable people who would dis- 
dain to shelter themselves behind the excuse of an 
ill-tempered chimney or a " bad draught/' we will 
presently proceed to see what she should cook upon 
her fire. 



PART III. 

THE PRINCIPLES OF DIET AND A FEW CHEAP 
AND EASY RECIPES. 



PART III. 

REMARKS. 

THE first principle of diet is that the stomach should 
not be asked to receive more than it can digest 5 and 
the second, that the food should be suitable to each 
person's digestion. We are very tyrannical to our 
stomachs, and they, in their turn, generally retaliate 
upon us sooner or later. If a certain form of diet 
agrees with one individual, it is no absolute rule that 
it should suit our neighbour ; but we too often insist 
on feeding others according to what we imagine agrees 
with ourselves. Especially is this the case with chil- 
dren's diet, and few grown-up people make allowance 
for the healthy appetite of girls or boys who are still 
growing, or understand how much food-material the 
rapidly-expanding frame requires. 

My own firm conviction is that no schoolboy ever 
gets as much nourishing food as he requires, and that 
that is the secret why boys of fourteen or fifteen years 
old scarcely ever look anything but thin and pinched. 
The general remark is, " Oh, they are growing so fast ! " 
So they are, and that is the exact reason why their 
food should be particularly nourishing, more so than 
at any other time of their lives. Instead of that, an 

F 2 



68 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

English schoolboy gets two slops and only one nourish- 
ing meal a day, during the years of his life when he 
requires the greatest amount of nutritive food. Think 
of the actual force-producers contained in a school- 
boy's breakfast and tea (or supper), and think of the 
amount of exercise his restless young limbs will take 
or have taken in the course of the day. After a game 
of football or cricket, or a paper-chase, a boy sits 
down generally I might almost say invariably to a 
meal of weak tea, skim milk, bread, and perhaps 
cheese or a little butter. I am not, of course, speak- 
ing of cheap schools. When a person undertakes to 
feed and teach and board a boy for a sum between 
2O/. and 5o/., or even more, it is well-nigh impossible, 
at the present scale of prices, to give him better, 01 
even as good food as what I have described ; but it 
does appear to me a shame that at the more expen- 
sive schools to which boys are sent by parents of 
fairly good means, the scale of diet should be kept so 
low, and the proportion of really nutritive food so 
small. Perhaps the only exceptions to this rule are 
to be found in the liberal tables of some of our best 
public schools, but even there the boys, without being 
absolutely starved, do not get enough to eat, and two 
meals out of the three will probably contain insuffi- 
cient nourishment. In girls' schools,. I fancy, this evil 
is still more decided, and a poor diet whilst a child is 
growing rapidly is the root of delicate constitutions, 
feeble frames, and general " breaking down " at the 
outset of life. 



REMARKS.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 69 



There should also be the greatest imaginable differ- 
ence in diet between different classes of workers ; for 
although a certain section of the community monopo- 
lizes to itself the honourable title of the " Working 
Class," the term embraces many more thousands 
than the labouring man imagines. The popular idea, 
for instance, among the poor and ignorant masses 
who work for their daily bread, is that the Lady who 
rules over this country leads a blissful life of idleness, 
seated on her throne all day, orb and sceptre in hand, 
and gazing placidly before her into space. Now, I 
believe it to be a fact that few people in all Her wide 
dominions work really harder, in every sense of the 
word, than our dear and good Queen. At the head 
of the workers her Majesty may well claim to take her 
place, and then will come a crowd of men and women 
who wear good clothes and live in fine, or at all 
events decent, houses, and yet work absolutely harder, 
all the year round, than any day labourer in the Mid- 
land Counties. 

The diet for work of this nature must necessarily be 
very different to that required by the man who exer- 
cises his muscles in the open air, and whose appetite 
and digestion possess far larger capacities of receiving 
and assimilating food than those of the poor brain 
worker who uses up his life-power at a much quicker 
rate. The absence of fresh air, and the want there- 
fore of constantly renewed supplies of oxygen to the 
blood through the lungs, prevent the man who works 
indoors with his head or his hands from feeling so 



70 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

hungry, yet the exhaustion of his nervous system de- 
mands as urgently that it should be renewed by means 
of food. At the same time the digestion of such a 
one is weaker, and cannot manage gross substances. 
For these workers, then, a diet where the cooking is so 
perfect, however simple it may be, that there shall be 
as little strain as possible thrown upon the gastric juices, 
is of the first importance. To brain-workers albumen 
is even more necessary than fibrine, and raw eggs 
afford this in its purest form. There is a popular 
fallacy that eggs beaten up in milk are rendered 
doubly nourishing, but if the egg be fresh and good 
the combination is rather more fitted to hinder than 
to promote digestion. It would be better to beat the 
egg up in a little brandy or wine, and wine is the 
best. Fibrine, in the form of meat, should be 
sparingly used by those who live by their brains, and 
the meat should be of the best quality, and always 
very well and delicately cooked. Fish supplies most 
easily the phosphorus which is needed by such a 
system, and good pure milk and cream are also very 
essential articles of diet. 

But to the man who exercises his muscles in the 
open air a very different regimen must be prescribed. 
The labourer instinctively stops the gaps between his 
scanty meals with cheese, which is the best thing 
for him, and he enriches his poor diet of potatoes 
with bacon. Some day, when his wife has learned 
how to make the most of every scrap of meat, he ought 
to be able to vary his food with a good drop of warm 



REMARKS.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 71 



nourishing broth. If only he could be persuaded to 
diminish his beer and increase his allowance of meat, 
he would find himself in a far better condition for work. 

The diet of our soldiers, and even of our sailors, 
appears to me in spite of tables showing the pro- 
portions of flesh-formers and starch, of gluten, and 
heaven knows what, swallowed daily by every soldier 
to be really insufficient for a healthy man with 
a good appetite. They may be supplied with food 
enough to prevent anything like actual starvation, 
and even to keep them in some sort of condition, 
but I question whether a British soldier ever knows 
what it is to feel thoroughly satisfied after his meals 
for one whole day. It is just possible, is it not, 
that the men would be easier kept away from the 
canteen if they had as much as they could eat ? 
Tables of food-proportions are very well in their 
way, but I know that I have seen working men in 
New Zealand, and growing boys of eighteen and 
twenty years old in colonies where meat was cheap, 
consume fibrine or, in other words, eat plain roast 
meat in quantities which would soon leave the most 
liberal military dietary several pounds behind. 

It is not- at all certain that, in spite of danger and 
discomforts, our soldiers do not really fare better 
abroad, or in time of war, than at home in peace. 
In the face of a national excitement we are not so 
very particular as to the number of ounces of meat to 
be dealt out to the men who have to stand between us 
and ruin, so the soldier has then a better chance of 



72 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

occasionally getting as much as he can eat. If he 
could cook his own food, he would be still better off ; 
and anyone who saw those good-looking German 
soldiers cooking their rations in the little tent behind 
the School of Cookery last summer, must remember 
how deftly they set about their preparations, and how 
savoury was the result of a pea-sausage and a bone 
or two. No doubt every year brings its improvements 
in these matters, and if a soldier who fought under 
Marlborough could see the rations and barrack ac- 
commodation of his modern brethren-in-arms, he 
would indeed think they had nothing to complain of 
in the way of food and shelter. But still there is 
ample room for improvement, and I would endorse 
the suggestion often made before, that the British 
soldier be taught to cook, and to make the most of his 
rations by such cooking. Each man might take it in 
turn to try his hand over the fire, and there might be 
some regimental emulation in the form of small prizes 
for clever contrivances to vary the food, and so forth. 
I am aware that the food is not nearly so mono- 
tonous as it used to be a short time since, when all the 
meat eaten by soldiers was invariably boiled ; but still 
I question whether the mess dinner of the rank and 
file is anything like so savoury and palatable as the 
dinner to be had a few years ago in Paris, at one 
Madame Roland's, near the Marche des Innocents. 
For twopence she gave you cabbage soup with a slice 
of bouilli (beef) in it, a large piece of excellent bread, 
and a glass of wine, which it must be admitted, how- 



LESS, ix.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 73 



ever, was rather thin. Some 600 workmen used to 
throng daily round her table in a shed, and yet she cal- 
culated that she gained a farthing by each guest. In 
Glasgow, Manchester, and elsewhere, similar public 
dining places have been established on the cheapest 
possible scale, and found to answer very well j but 
although a workman may be able to get a fairly good 
and nutritive dinner "at such an institution, it is not 
the less necessary that his wife should know how to 
cook his food decently for him at home. 



LESSON IX. 

BOILING AND STEWING. 

THERE is all the difference in the world between 
boiling meat which is to be eaten, and meat whose 
juices are to be extracted in the form of soup. If 
the meat is required as nourishment, of course you 
want the juices kept in. To do this it is necessary 
to plunge it into boiling water, which will cause the 
albumen in the meat to coagulate suddenly, and act 
as a plug or stopper to all the tubes of the meat, so 
that the nourishment will be tightly kept in. The 
temperature of the water should be kept at boiling- 
point for five minutes, and then as much cold water 
must be added as will reduce the temperature to 165. 
If the whole be kept at this temperature for some 
hours, you have all the conditions united which give 



74 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 



to the flesh the quality best adapted for its use as 
food. The juices are kept in the meat, and instead 
of being called upon to consume an insipid mass of 
indigestible fibres, we have a tender piece of meat, 
from which, when cut, the imprisoned juices run 
freely. If the meat be allowed to remain in the boil- 
ing water without the addition of any cold to it, it 
becomes in a short time altogether cooked, but it will 
be as hard as iron, and utterly indigestible, and there- 
fore unwholesome. 

If soup is to be made out of meat, then it stands to 
reason we want all the juices which we can possibly 
extract from the meat to mix with the water. There- 
fore the meat should be put into cold water, with a 
little salt and a few vegetables (if in a poor family a 
few crusts of bread may be added at the last minute), 
and allowed to simmer as long as possible. It is un- 
doubtedly the most economical form of nourishment 
which exists, and it is an absurd prejudice to suppose 
that the same amount of meat is invariably more 
valuable to the human system if it be frizzled in a 
greasy frying-pan, so that it becomes burnt outside 
but remains raw within, and eaten in this state as 
" good solid food/' dear to the heart (but surely not 
to the stomach) of a true Englishman. In the first 
place, even a pound of meat will only feed one 
person in a solid form, whereas, if to exactly the 
same weight of meat be added a pint of cold water, 
a few vegetables, or even herbs, a couple of potatoes, 
a bone or two, a scrap of bacon, an onion almost 



LESS, ix.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 75 



anything which comes handy we have at once the 
pot-au-feu of the French peasant, and produce a 
warm, savoury, wholesome meal for two or three 
persons. It may be as well to mention that the scum 
which rises on the top of the water whilst meat is 
boiling is always useless and unwholesome, and 
should be got rid of as completely as possible. The 
way to help this scum to rise, so as to be able to get 
rid of it, is to keep pouring in a little cold water from 
time to time. This will always have the effect of 
sending up some of the obnoxious substance to the 
top, from whence it should speedily be removed. 

Stewing occupies a sort of middle position between 
roasting and boiling, and must be carefully attended 
to, if the meat is not to be hardened instead of 
softened by the process. It is desirable to dip meat 
into boiling water for stewing as well as boiling, unless 
indeed it should have been soaked before. What, 
for instance, makes hashed mutton a byword of 
nastiness ? Because an ignorant cook plunges her 
chunks of cold meat into a greasy gravy when it is 
at boiling-point, thereby thoroughly and hopelessly 
hardening the meat, and then serves up the mess with 
large pieces of half-toasted bread. Now, is this way 
more extravagant? I can answer for its being more 
palatable. Make a nice little gravy of any cold stock 
and a good cook will always have a small basin or 
cup full of stock by her add an onion finely shredded 
and fried, a little pepper and salt, and, if it is to 
be had, a tea-spoonful of ketchup. Let the mixture 



76 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in- 



come to boiling-point, without boiling over, and 
strain it into another saucepan. If you have only 
one saucepan, strain it into a basin, quickly clean 
out your saucepan, and pour the gravy back into it, 
setting it aside to let it get nearly quite cold. Then, 
and not until then, lay in thinly- cut, small'slices of the 
cold meat, and let the gravy and the meat warm 
thoroughly and gradually together, without boiling, 
but don't allow it to stew too long. Whilst it is 
getting ready, have the frying-pan ready with a little 
boiling fat (not that which fish has been fried in, 
remember), and put into it some small, thin, three- 
cornered pieces of bread, which will quickly fry into 
a crisp toast. Serve these round the hash, which, 
by the way, should not be swamped in gravy, and I 
can answer that a certain cockney millionaire friend 
of mine will no longer issue this solemn warning to 
his family: "Never eat 'ashes away from 'ome." 

But to return to stewing. If it be properly under- 
stood and practised, stewed meat makes a very agree- 
able and palatable change from the monotonous 
boiling and roasting which alternate on the middle- 
class daily bill of fare. A shoulder of mutton stewed, 
Indian fashion, with a handful of well-washed rice, a 
few Sultana raisins, half a dozen cloves, and a tea- 
spoonful of currie powder to flavour it, makes an 
agreeable change. Some meats are far more whole- 
some also when stewed than when roast ; as veal, 
for instance, and many kinds of fish. Eels are in- 
variably more wholesome stewed than boiled though 



LESS, ix.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 77 

all fish is wholesomer boiled than fried, for stewing 
is a more gradual process than boiling, and the fat is 
more surely got rid of. If it should ever be necessary 
to cook a beefsteak which has not yet had time to 
become tender by keeping, then, for the sake of the 
digestion of the family, it would be better to stew it, 
and this is the way it should be done. 

The meat should first be cut into convenient, but 
large-sized pieces (all the fat having been removed) 
and lightly fried on both sides in butter or clarified 
dripping. This will make it of a nice brown colour, 
and prevent the pale flabby appearance it would 
otherwise present. Then get a saucepan and put the 
meat into it, with a little sliced onion, turnips and 
carrots (which are also improved by being half-fried 
first), pepper and salt, and a tea-spoonful of any sauce 
you prefer. If there is any stock, add it, but if not, 
put in about half a pint of water, and let it all simmer 
very gently for two or three hours. At the last mo- 
ment skim it well, for it is odious if it be greasy ; stir 
in a few pinches of flour to thicken the gravy, and let 
it all boil up together for a couple of minutes before 
serving. Some people are very fond of fat with all 
their food, though they should bear in mind that fat 
affords no nourishment whatever to the human body. 
It merely goes to make fat. A stout person should 
therefore not eat much fat, and a thin one should. 
The function of fat, as we all know, is like starch or 
sugar, to keep up the heat of the animal, and a certain 
proportion is even present in healthy animal muscle ; 



78 FIRS'l LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

so it does not do to buy lean meat, although all the 
fat on the joint need not be sent up to table. How- 
ever, it is necessary to serve a certain portion of fat 
with stewed steak, but do not let it stew with the 
meat, for it will only melt and rise to the surface 
in the scum which has to be so carefully removed. 
Rather keep the fat till the last moment, cut it into 
little pieces a couple of inches long, and put it by 
itself in the frying-pan or on a gridiron for a minute 
or two just to cook it, and serve it in golden-brown 
nodules on the top of the stewed meat. 

All nice cooking be its materials ever so simple 
is more or less troublesome ; but I have always found 
(and the experience of others bears out my own) that 
bad cooks will take quite as much trouble to spoil 
food. It is therefore a great pity that when a 
woman is conscious of her own deficiencies and is 
anxious and willing to improve by learning, she should 
not have the opportunity of doing so. But unfor- 
tunately cooking is not to be learned "from a book, 
nor from a lecture. It is an art in which practical 
experience, supplementing theoretical information, 
alone can be of any use. It is doubtless a great 
advantage to intelligent beginners to have the why 
and wherefore of everything explained to them either 
by voice or page, but it is equally necessary for 
them to see with their own eyes and try with their 
own hands the result of these instructions, for half- 
an-hour's practice is worth a week's theorizing, in 
cooking as well as in other things. 



i ESS. x.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 79 



LESSON X. 

BAKING, ROASTING, AND FRYING. 

THE same principle which has been advocated in 
boiling holds good with regard to roasting. If you 
wish to retain all the juices in the meat, place it close 
to the fire for five minutes at first, and then remove it 
to a greater distance until the last five minutes, when 
it should be brought near the fire again. It is possible, 
by this method, to roast a joint thoroughly, so that it 
shall be perfectly well cooked, and yet, when carved, 
the imprisoned juices shall flow out readily. All meat 
ought to be well floured and sprinkled with a pinch 
or two of salt before putting it to the fire, and it 
should be kept constantly basted with clear dripping. 
Some things, such as hare, are better basted with 
milk ; and poultry, or any very small joint, is much 
improved by being covered with lard or oiled paper. 
Instead of larding game or poultry, it is often prefer- 
able to bard it, i.e. to cover the breast with a thin 
slice of fat bacon, which may be served up with it as 
with quails. 

We must remember that the object in cooking is to 
present meat, and indeed all food, to the palate in an 
agreeable form without changing its composition more 
than we can help, or losing its nutritive value. Raw 
meat, quite apart from other objections, is so tough 



FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

that it would be impossible to masticate or digest 
enough of it to satisfy hunger, whereas the application 
of heat is intended to force the juices to expand, thus 
separating the fibres and making mastication easy and 
pleasant. 

The loss of weight in roasting, especially if the 
joint be a fat one, is very considerable. As much as 
4lb. 4 oz. have been lost in roasting a joint of 15 Ibs. 
weight in the ordinary manner. Although meat actually 
loses more of its weight by roasting than by boiling, 
yet, if no account be taken of the matters extracted, 
it contains, when roasted, a larger proportion of nu- 
tritive elements than the larger mass of boiled meat, 
and in a given weight is more nutritious. Meat is 
often baked, and though this method maybe harmless 
and agreeable as a change, it is not such a wholesome 
form of cooking as roasting. 

The primitive manner of baking meat is the only 
one which ensures it from becoming dry and tasteless, 
namely, to enclose it in a crust of some sort. The 
gipsies to this day bake their meat and poultry we 
will not inquire how this latter item is added to the 
bill of fare in a sort of mud mould or case, covering 
up feathers and all ; and the Indians and Maoris 
generally cook in the same way. A fowl, or a piece 
of meat of any sort, is delicious when enclosed in a 
flour-and-water case dough, in fact and baked in 
the embers 'of a camp fire. If the meat were put in 
the fire without this protection, it would simply get 
burnt 



LESS. x,j PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. Si 



Frying is the simplest, the commonest, ami, if pro- 
perly done, the wholesomest form of cooking food, 
but it is perhaps the least understood, and more often 
results in burning the outside of the meat whilst the 
inside is left raw. To begin with, a clear, smokeless 
fire is indispensable for frying, and it is equally neces- 
sary to have a perfectly clean frying-pan. Of course 
the best oil, or the best fresh butter, would offer the 
most perfect conditions of the fat in which anything 
should be fried ; but good, pure, clear fat, and clarified 
dripping, make capital substitutes. Cold meat is ex- 
cellent when lightly fried and served up with yester- 
day's vegetables and potatoes (also cut up and fried), 
but the excellence depends entirely on the delicate yet 
savoury flavouring, the clearness of the fire, and the 
goodness of the fat in which the frying process is 
carried on. It is also very important that the fat 
should be actually boiling. Here again we are met 
by prejudice, for ninety-nine cooks out of a hundred 
will allege that they are " respectable women " when 
asked to use a frimometer or a thermometer, and 
prefer to go on ascertaining the temperature of 
their fat by guesswork or by means of a sprig of 
parsley. It is more economical to roast the flesh of 
young animals, such as lamb, chicken, veal, or pork, 
because such flesh contains an undue proportion of 
albumen and gelatine in the tissues, and these sub- 
stances will to a great extent be lost in the boiling. 

If I had to cook a dish of cutlets and potatoes, or 
a tender rump-steak and potatoes, this is the way I 

G 



82 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

should do it, or, to speak quite truthfully, these are the 
directions I should give for its being done. First, I 
must say that whenever it is practicable to use a grid- 
iron in the place of a frying-pan, and to broil meat 
instead of frying, it should be done. But, at the same 
time, I have tasted such excellent cutlets served out of 
a frying-pan, that it shows it is not an invariable rule. 
It is the attention to small details which makes all the 
difference in nice cooking, and if persons thoroughly 
understand the value of these important trifles, they 
learn to do the thing always that way, and so it be- 
comes no more trouble to them than is the slatternly 
method which results in grease and cinders, heartburn 
and disgust. Well, then, let us imagine that we are 
rich enough to possess a frying-pan and a gridiron, and 
that our fire, however small, is clear and bright, with- 
out a film of smoke, for it is of no use trying to fry 
or broil unless the fire is in a proper condition. In 
spite of what has been said in a former place about 
cooking potatoes in their skins, potatoes for frying 
must needs be peeled, well washed, and cut rapidly 
up with a sharp knife into thin slices. Again, they 
should be thrown into a basin of water for a moment, 
and then laid on a clean cloth, slice by slice, to be 
thoroughly dried. All this time the nice, clear fat 
should have been melting on the fire, and when it is 
actually boiling throw in the potatoes, keeping the 
frying-pan frequently moving so that they shall not 
stick to its bottom. A couple or three minutes ought 
to crisp them to a beautiful golden brown colour ; 



LESS, x.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 83 

then skim them swiftly out of the boiling fat, throw 
them into a large, fine wire sieve (which would be all 
the better for having been warmed to receive them;, 
sprinkle a pinch of salt over them, and turn them 
into a very hot dish, every particle of fat having been 
left behind in the sieve. Although the potatoes have 
been mentioned first, the meat should really have 
preceded them in the order of cooking, as it is 
the easiest to keep hot If you are going to have 
cutlets, trim them from the best end of a neck of 
mutton very neatly. There is no occasion to throw 
away the scraps ; they should either go into the stock- 
pot, or, if strict economy be necessary, they may after- 
wards be made into a pudding or pie. The chine-bone 
must be sawn off, and the seven or eight chops (which 
are all you will be able to get off a moderate-sized 
neck of mutton) neatly pared, and only about an inch 
of bare bone left to each cutlet for a handle. The 
cutlets should then be sprinkled with a little salt and 
pepper, and laid for a moment in a dish of oil : 
then put them on the gridiron, or into the frying- 
pan, but in this latter case add a little more oil, and 
broil or fry them for six or seven minutes. They 
ought by that time to be nicely done, and should be 
served hot. Beefsteak can be cooked exactly in the 
same way, only from its larger size the gridiron is 
more strictly indispensable. A frying-pan is a very 
serviceable implement in the hands of a skilful 
manager. I trust she will make it a point of keeping 
it scrupulously clean, and then she can serve up 

G ? 



FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 



the cold vegetables left from yesterday in this 
fashion at a moment's notice. Melt a little fat 
or butter in your frying-pan, shred an onion into 
it with a spoonful of chopped parsley, a little 
salt and pepper, and a sprig of any savoury herb 
or bit of lemon-peel which comes handy. Then 
cut up the vegetables cabbage, turnips, carrots, 
and so forth into small pieces, and fry the whole, 
lightly tossing the contents of your frying-pan all the 
time, so that they may not get into a burnt fat-soaked 
mass. On a sudden call for a late supper, such a dish 
as this forms a capital addition to the cold meat or 
fried bacon and eggs. 

Of all the uses, however, to which a housewife 
turns her frying-pan, I suppose an omelet is the 
least in demand, and yet it is at once the cheapest 
and easiest way in the world to cook eggs with 
other things. All it requires is vigilance and knack. 
Don't 0zw-beat your eggs, just whisk them up 
(three are quite enough for a manageable omelet), 
whites and all, lightly and swiftly, beat in with 
them a pinch of salt, a little pepper, some finely- 
chopped parsley, or a teaspoonful of grated cheese, 
or shredded bacon, or even shredded fish ; almost any* 
thing mixes well in an omelet, provided it is cut fine 
enough. Have the frying-pan ready on the fire with 
butter enough in it to fairly cover its surface when 
melted, which it should do without browning. Into 
this clear liquid butter pour the contents of your 
basin (your eggs, &c.), holding the frying-pan with 



OF THE 

NIVERSITT 

, x.] PRINCIPLES O 



the left hand, and gently stirring the mixture with 
a wooden spoon in the other. The omelet will set 
almost immediately, and then the stirring should be 
discontinued, and the gentle shaking carried on inces- 
santly : the edges being lightly turned up with the 
wooden spoon every now and then. If you turn 
your head, or cease shaking for a moment, the omelet 
will be spoiled. Four minutes should be quite enough 
to cook the inside thoroughly, and yet leave the out- 
side of a rich, yellowish-brown colour, but the time 
required to attain this result will entirely depend on 
the fire. Too fierce a fire will burn the omelet before 
it has had time to set or become thoroughly cooked, 
and yet a clear brisk fire is necessary. As soon as it 
begins to assume the shape of a small plate and the 
colour of a golden pippin, take your wooden spoon 
once more and dexterously double it over, serve it in 
an exceedingly hot dish, and eat it whilst it is still 
sputtering and frothing. The only things requisite 
in an omelet are, presence of mind and prompt- 
ness of action. Timidity and hesitation have ruined 
many an omelet, and it is better to practise as 
often as may be necessary, before serving up a 
failure. 

In fritters, the yolks of the eggs and the dissolved 
butter are beaten into a batter, and the slices of fruit, 
previously dipped in finely-powdered sugar, dropped 
into the mixture, to which, by the way, the well- 
whisked whites of the eggs must be added at the last 
moment. Then the slices of fruit, with the batter 



86 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 



adhering to them, may be placed in the buttered 
frying-pan for a moment or two just to get lightly 
cooked, and the pan should be kept well shaken 
during the process. 



LESSON XL 

BACON. 

AMERICAN bacon is considerably lower in price than 
English bacon, but it shrinks more when boiled, and 
you can get a larger number of slices from a given 
weight of English bacon than can be obtained from 
the other. Pork is the great stand-by of the poor 
man's dietary, by reason of its strong flavour as well 
as its low price, and the relish it affords to mono- 
tonous and insipid fare. The dripping from fried 
bacon is often preferred by children to the rancid 
stuff sold as butter to the poor ; and in any case the 
fat from bacon is more palatable with cabbage or 
potatoes than the suet of either beef or mutton could 
possibly be. It is easier to carry when cold into the 
fields ; and another great advantage of bacon is that 
it requires less fire to cook it, and fewer utensils. 
From a scientific point of view, a diet in which 
bacon is the principal meat, needs to be largely 
supplemented by milk and other highly nitrogenous 
food, for it contains very little nitrogen itself, and 
we know that nitrogen is of great importance to 



LESS. XL] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 87 

the blood. Bacon supplies a fair amount of carbon, 
and does not therefore require the aid of bread. 
With the addition of a little pea-meal, the liquor 
in which bacon has been boiled makes a good soup, 
and it would be improved both in flavour and 
nutritive value by a few potatoes and an onion being 
boiled in it. 

But as a general rule, however valuable the pig may 
be in an economical sense, it is quite certain that pork 
is less wholesome than almost any other meat. For 
the reasons why this should be so, we must go in the 
first place to the habits and ways of the animal itself, 
its absence of any guiding instinct about food for 
quantity, not quality, appears to be the first principle 
of a pig's diet and the motionless life it leads. Pigs 
which are turned out in a field run about too much 
to grow fat, and therefore, if it be necessary to use the 
animal for food, it is speedily relegated to its sty. 
There it never does anything except sleep and eat, 
and this want of exercise tells not only on the inor- 
dinate growth of fat which is laid up outside the body, 
but upon the muscles and fibres of the flesh, which 
become hard and indigestible. The pig stores up in 
its body three times more of its food than the ox, and 
from its large proportion of fat is not of equal value 
with beef or mutton in nourishing the system of those 
who need to make much muscular exertion. The leg 
of pork is the part of the body which, if deprived of 
its large proportion of fat, approaches the most nearly 
to the nourishing elements of beef or mutton. How 



88 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

ever, I do not for a moment expect that any scientific 
theories for or against pork will have any ill effect on 
the keeping of pigs or the curing of bacon. Happy 
is the family which can keep a pig ; therefore, what 
does it matter whether it be a " highly nitrogenous 
food " or not? Piggy pays the rent, and furnishes 
the " childer " with many a savoury bite besides. In 
fact, if any food can, in these high-priced days, be 
called economic, bacon deserves the name, for it 
goes further than any other meat. My remarks, 
therefore, must be taken to apply only to those who 
have a choice, and who therefore should use it more 
as a relish than as the principal ingredient in the 
family bill of fare. 



LESSON XII. 

THE GIST OF THE WHOLE MATTER. 

Now let us sum up what we have been trying to teach 
and to learn in this little book. To begin with, we 
will run through the first part, which is perhaps rather 
alarming on account of its hard words, and see what 
has been said. 

No one will deny the importance of urging rich and 
poor alike, in the present state of things, to try and 
economize the fuel and food which they may have at 
their disposal. When I use the word economize, and 



LESS. xii. 1 PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 



apply it to rich people, I mean it to bear a wider 
significance than when I speak of the very poor, with 
whom it is an absolute necessity. It is just because 
there is not this absolute necessity on the score of 
expenditure, that a due attention to the principles 
of economy in food and fuel sits so gracefully on a 
rich person. I do not mean that only two fires should 
be lighted in a splendid mansion, or that its inmates 
should gather every day around a dinner of bone- 
soup or a lunch of bread and cheese. That would 
of course be absurd nonsense, and no one is so 
short-sighted as not to perceive that such economy 
would starve a good many thousand people in other 
grades of life. What I mean is, that in all house- 
holds, beginning with those costly establishments 
where the duty devolves on a steward or house- 
keeper, there should be such arrangements, such 
training, such recognized principles, that the possi- 
bility of waste should be reduced to the lowest point. 
Everyone will acknowledge that in what are called 
" great kitchens/' the " waste," the broken victuals, 
scraps, crusts, bones, and so forth would feed many 
a poor and hungry family. All I say, then, is : " Let 
it feed such families : don't let it be thrown away, or 
sold as refuse. ". When we have made the most of 
everything, there will still be quite enough refuse in 
the world, without adding to it portions of food which 
would be a boon and a blessing to a starving child. 
The same with fuel Let people who can afford to 
pay for coals have as many fires as they choose, but 



90 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART HI. 

let them take care that the coals are fairly used and 
made the most of, cinders and all, so will there be 
more left in the market for those to whom a hundred- 
weight of coal is of more importance than is a ton to 
a rich man. Let such people have grates and stoves, 
and all the new inventions for the economy of fuel, 
and then, if everybody makes a conscience of being 
careful with their coals economical without being 
stingy, but insisting on every cinder being duly used, 
or even given away, instead of finding its way into the 
dust-hole we shall not perhaps have constant alarms 
of scarcity and famine prices. 

So much can rich people do to help j but those in 
the lower grades of society can do a great deal more ; 
and I am persuaded that the chief reason a great deal 
more is not done is because people don't know how 
to do it. The mistress of a middle-class household 
considers that she fulfils the whole duties of her 
position by giving a few languid orders to her ser- 
vants, which they obey or not, according to their 
several dispositions. By all means let her confine 
herself to this feeble style of housekeeping until she 
knows how the things should be done, for until then 
it is better she should not interfere. If everything 
was exactly as it should be, if cooks knew not 
only how to lay and light fires, but to cook ex- 
quisitely, it would be very delightful, and we might 
all live happy ever after. But, unfortunately, we 
seem to be a long way from such a desirable state 
of things ; and complaints of the bad, and an outcry 



LESS. XIL] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 91 

for good, servants grow louder every year. Now, it 
appears to me that good mistresses are just as much 
needed as good servants, mistresses who are capable 
of explaining kindly and clearly to a servant how and 
why their duties or such portion of their duties as 
they are ignorant of should be performed. Expla- 
nation is a good deal better than scolding, and the 
practical knowledge from which such explanations 
should spring is quite compatible with the utmost 
refinement and cultivation of the mind. I don't 
want ladies to do the servants' work ; I only want 
them to have the opportunity of learning to ex- 
plain how such work should be performed, and 
to understand, even in theory, why and wherefore 
certain causes bring about certain results in domestic 
economy. 

Let us take the mistress of an ordinary middle- 
class household, a household where the husband 
works hard to make an income of from 5oo/. to 
i,ooo/. a year, on which four or five children have 
to be educated and set forth in the world, and 
perhaps relations to be helped besides (for poor 
people generally have to help their relations). Ten 
years ago it would have been, for that rank of life, 
almost a large income. Nowadays it is a very small 
one, and it has therefore become more than ever of 
grave importance that the person on whom its 
management chiefly depends should know something 
besides music and drawing. Well, then, this typical 
lady shall be amiable, intelligent anxious to do her 



92 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART m. 



best for her family and household, and yet what 
state of things shall we be tolerably sure to find in 
such a house ? In the nursery, " Missis " is all that 
is capable and useful. She thoroughly understands 
how to provide for the health and pretty toilettes of 
her nice little children. She and Nurse get on very 
well ; they have a mutual respect and confidence in 
each other's " knowledgeableness," and a thorough 
belief in each other's capacity. All is right at the 
top of the house. On the next story the lady is not 
quite so certain of her ground. She has indeed 
slender theories on the subject of dust, and, we will 
hope, a wholesome love of fresh air, but a new house- 
maid will probably find that she can do pretty much 
as she likes in her own department. 

But it is not till we come down to the kitchen that 
we begin to suspect there is a screw loose somewhere. 
If our lady has been fortunate enough to stumble 
upon a cook who for i4/. or i6/. a year will cook 
savoury meals for her every day of her life ; a cook 
who is as clean as she is clever, and as honest as she 
is sober, then indeed there will be peace and harmony 
in that establishment, unless the cook should happen 
to have a bad temper. But how is it if the cook be 
merely an ignorant, honest, " willing " young woman ? 
Who is to teach her ? How and where is she to be 
trained ? That has hitherto been the great difficulty 
of English middle-class life, and it is to remove, or 
at all events to give those who wish it an opportunity 
of removing it, that the National School of Cookery 



LESS, xii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKTKG. 93 



is to be established at South Kensington. Everything 
cannot be done in a moment ; unsuspected needs will 
crop up, an extended sphere will necessitate wider 
arrangements ; but I can safely affirm that the point 
which will be steadily kept in view by the Committee 
is this great need of the English people the want of 
some place where a girl or woman can be taught how 
to cook. It is not necessary for ladies to bend over 
the fire and harden their palms with saucepan handles, 
for it is easier to teach an educated person by theory 
than an uneducated one ; and a lady will carry away 
a great deal of useful knowledge from a lecture where 
a cook-maid would have been swamped by words 
and phrases above her capacity. There will therefore 
be both forms of education ; but, so far as my own 
experience goes, and speaking confidentially, I should 
have been very thankful for both opportunities oi 
practical instruction before I went to New Zealand. 
I might then perhaps have been saved many an 
anxious moment, to say nothing of constant culinary 
discomfiture. I did go down to a friend's kitchen 
more than once, and try what knowledge I could pick 
up, but I was so bewildered by the size and splen- 
dour of the batterie- de-cuisine, and the cook would 
persist in regarding my desire for information as either 
a whim or a joke on my part, so that it ended by my 
learning nothing whatever which proved of any prac- 
tical use to me. To begin with, I could not explain 
to the cook what I wanted to know; I could not even 
say where my ignorance began or where it ended, 



94 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in 

though indeed I found out afterwards that it would 
have been well to have established some infallible 
test for ascertaining when the kettle boiled. What 
experiments even in this line were necessary when I 
set up for myself ! including one recipe of turning 
the kitchen poker into a sort of tuning-fork, and hold- 
ing the handle to my ear, whilst the poker-point 
rested on the lid of the kettle. That method soon 
fell into disfavour, for it used generally to result in 
upsetting the whole affair and extinguishing the 
kitchen fire. 

Well, then, to return to the purpose of this slender 
volume. If it even awakens a sense of ignorance in 
its readers, something will have been gained, for I am 
much mistaken in my knowledge of women of my 
own class and position in life, as well as of those 
in a higher rank, if, when once they feel the need 
of practical instruction and improvement in their 
domestic arrangements, the next step will not be to 
endeavour to acquire that knowledge. Also, I hope 
and believe that the artisan's young wife, who 
feels the commissariat and cooking a heavy burthen 
on her mind and her hands, will set to work to 
learn how and why certain food-substances are more 
wholesome and therefore more economical than 
others, and in what fashion they should be cooked 
so as to make them go further and render them 
palatable. 

Lower than this grade in our social scale it seems 
hard to go. It is too much to expect the crowds 



LESS. xii. PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 95 

whose daily bread is a perpetual miracle, to have the 
time and the means to learn to cook better. When 
it is generally a matter of chance and locality what 
sort of food they can provide for themselves and 
their children, it seems a bitter mockery to tell them 
this, that, and the other is the most nourishing diet, 
or to recommend rump-steaks to them instead of 
bread and dripping. But here, those rich and bene- 
volent people, whose comforts and luxuries have been 
and will be secured to themselves and their families 
for many a day, may possibly find another outlet for 
that spring of human sympathy and charity which 
whatever pessimists may say to the contrary runs 
bright and sparkling beneath our natures, and wells 
up to make many a green and blessed spot in our 
own lives and those of others. 

Let us look for a momerut at our country villages, 
and think how often it happens that the Squire's and 
the Rector's wife is asked to take some well-behaved 
cottage-girl and " learn " her to cook. 

With the best will in world, what can these kind 
ladies do ? With a sigh they will consent, and return 
home to announce probably with some trepidation 
to their cook, that " a new girl " is coming. This 
means a year of misery and discomfort to everybody* 
The cook does not care about teaching the girl, and 
will most likely take but slender pains to do so, 
The girl feels that she is only on sufferance in the 
kitchen, and is in a false position there, besides. It 
will probably be very difficult, if not impossible, for 



90 FIRS7 LESSON'S IN THE [PART in. 

her to get anything like a regular useful lesson from 
her aggrieved instructress. Everything that is broken 
in the kitchen is laid to her charge, and at the end 
ot the year I question whether, even under the most 
favourable circumstances, such a girl can possibly 
have learned anything which will be of real practical 
value to her. As soon as ever she begins to have 
a dawning idea on the subject of a mutton-chop, 
she must go elsewhere and make room for another 
beginner. Now, the same money which would keep 
this girl for a year, would give her proper instruc- 
tion in a proper place. 

How constantly it happens that a young woman 
who is happily placed as housemaid or nursemaid, or 
apprenticed to a trade, loses her mother, and it be- 
comes absolutely necessary that she should give up 
her situation and return home to fill, as best she may, 
her mother's vacant place. Such a girl has probably 
never cooked a meal for herself in her life. She may 
return home with an earnest and affectionate desire 
to do her best for her father's and brothers' comfort, 
but can she know by inspiration how to cook their 
meals ? Even in my own limited experience I have 
repeatedly heard laments on this score, and felt my- 
self at the same time quite powerless to help beyond 
the vague suggestion that the beginner should ask 
Mrs. So-and-so to show her a little how to cook ; Mrs. 
So-and-so knowing probably very little herself. 

Many hundreds and thousands of people in London 
and our other cities and watering-places live, at all 



LESS, xii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 97 

events for a certain portion of the year, in lodgings, 
or, as they are more elegantly styled, furnished apart- 
ments. Imagine a monster meeting of lodgers in the 
Albert Hall, assembled to proclaim their greatest 
grievance. Would there not be one universal roar of 
"The food"? 

I have occasionally lived in lodgings myself, and 
I can speak from my own experience, feeling con- 
fident that it will represent the experience of a con- 
siderable portion of the houseless community. I 
found invariably civility, generally cleanliness (or at 
all events that is a remediable evil), and, with scarcely 
any exception, vile food. When I complained, the 
stereotyped answer, given in a very hopeless tone ; 
used to be : " Well, ma'am, I know it's not exactly 
right, but it's the gal ; you see, she don't know nothing; 
and I can't cook myself, not to say well." Now, whj- 
can't the " gal " cook, poor soul ? Has she ever been 
taught, or had even a chance of learning? Do wt 
put ever so willing a man to fire an Armstrong gun 
or set up type without the slightest previous instruc- 
tion on the subject ? Why should a " gal " be taken 
from her school life (this is imagining the most favour- 
able conditions), and suddenly be expected to know 
how to cook, especially when her teacher is con- 
fessedly as ignorant as herself? The only bright 
exception to this rule is when a girl has had the rare 
good fortune to be trained in some charitable institu- 
tion, where she has been properly taught to cook as 
weJl as to scrub and clean, and to keep herself neat 

H 



98 FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

and tidy, even whilst she is working. Yet, as I write 
the words " rare good fortune," a remorseful pang 
comes over me ; for, however such training may 
benefit the poor child and her employers in after 
years, it has probably been necessary, in order for 
her to be admitted into such an institution, that she 
should have been a waif or stray, an orphan, or a 
poor deserted child, or exceptionally wretched in 
some way, and it is from her very homelessness and 
helplessness that what I find myself calling her " rare 
good fortune " has sprung. 

I have already alluded in another place (page 36) 
to the case of the domestic servant who has been a 
housemaid or a nursemaid, or waited on ladies, and 
who perhaps marries and finds herself in a nice little 
home which it becomes her duty to keep bright and 
clean. She can do everything except cook, but I 
venture to say she will find this a great difficulty, and 
there will be a good deal of unconscious waste and 
extravagance before even the Rubicon of fried bacon 
is passed. 

It would be a good opportunity for this class of 
servants to learn cooking at the National School when 
families go out of town for the autumn, and two 
or three servants are left in an empty house to while 
away a couple of months as best they can. I do not 
want to curtail or interfere with any one's holiday, but 
it could scarcely be a grievance to a yonng woman 
who is perhaps looking forward to a little home of 
her own some not very distant day, to have the 



LESS. XIL] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 99 

opportunity of taking lessons in the art of cooking 
her husband's meals. Many of our subscribers may 
be fortunate enough to possess cooks who are masters 
or mistresses of their science, and to whom the word 
instruction dare not be mentioned. What I would 
venture to suggest to such people is, that although 
they may not need instruction for their cooks, they 
might utilize the advantages which their subscriptions 
will give them, for the benefit of their younger ser- 
vants or even of their tenants' daughters. 

The great point which I have reason to believe 
the Committee of the National School of Cookery 
will insist upon is, thoroughness. No one will be 
allowed to run, or try to run, before she can walk. 
The elementary knowledge of how to light and manage 
a kitchen fire, of scrupulous cleanliness in pots and 
pans, of attention to a thousand small but all-im- 
portant details, will be taught and insisted upon be- 
fore the learner is allowed to do anything worthy of 
the name of cooking. She will then probably be 
surprised to find how comparatively easy it will be 
to acquire the art, and she may be very sure she 
will not be allowed to try a second thing until she 
can do the first, if it be only boiling a kettle or toast- 
ing a piece of bread to perfection. 

Such is the plan for complete beginners who, by 
the way, generally prove the most successful pupils ; 
but for servants or artisans' wives who wish to u better ' 
themselves in their kitchens, there will be a different 
mode of instruction, into which we need not enter 



ioo FIRST LESSONS IN THE [PART in. 

here. Ladies will also have an opportunity either of 
sitting in a chair and listening^, a lecture or series 
of lectures on cooking, begB^jfetwith a mutton- 
chop and ending with a souffle^ or they may turn 
back their sleeves, take off their rings and bracelets, 
and try for themselves. It will be hard if any eager 
inquirer does not find some course or class to meet 
her needs ; and it is to be hoped that whatever excuse 
may hereafter be urged for our national bad cookery, 
the reproach of the want of a place and opportunity 
of instruction will be done away with for ever. 

There is but one parting remark I have to make. 
It is this. The National School of Cookery is not 
a mercantile undertaking. I have no wish to attempt 
to throw discredit upon such undertakings, but simply 
to state the School of Cookery at South Kensington 
is not one. There will be no question of dividends or 
bonuses, nor will there be shareholders whose interests 
and pockets must be considered. The School has every 
reason to expect that it will be liberally supported by 
contributions and donations ; if it finds itself mistaken 
in that expectation, it will close its doors, and there 
will be no harm done to anybody. It is managed by 
a Committee of gentlemen whose names are a sufficient 
guarantee for their actions, and no one of them will 
be individually a penny the richer or the poorer, 
whether the undertaking succeeds or not. If the 
School be well and liberally supported, it will be a 
sign that the need of improvement in cooking is felt 
by all classes, and for every shilling subscribed it is 



LESS, xii.] PRINCIPLES OF COOKING. 101 

the intention of the Committee to afford means of 
instruction. The more money which is forthcoming, 
the more widely-spread will be the benefit which the 
promoters of the National School of Cookery hope 
and believe it is capable of producing. 




THE END. 



LONDON I RICHARD CLA\ & SONS, PRINTERS, 



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