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Praecepta Lessons: Volume 3, Food Preparation

Scrub potatoes well; tip up. When tender, slip skins off. Drop into melted butter, then into minced parsley. The difference in flavor will be noticed at once.


The method of cooking referred to in the two foregoing chapters is extremely simple. Merely moisten well the parchment paper, squeezing out the surplus water, then, after cleaning and otherwise preparing the vegetables or whatever else is to be cooked, empty it into the paper, tying up the corners to form a bag, with a firm white cord or string into a bow knot that will be easily untied.

Meanwhile, the pot of water into which this is to be dropped, has been brought to a boil before the bag and contents have been placed in the water, the lid of the pot being clamped down tightly to prevent steam escaping. If it is being cooked on a gas stove, the fire can be turned down so as to merely keep up the near-boiling point. The simmering and confined steam will do the work.

Several different kinds of food, tied up in separate sheets of parchment paper, may be cooked in the same water at the same time without affecting each other’s taste or odor. As an example, cauliflower is considerably odoriferous when cooking, but one bag may contain cauliflower, another potatoes, another carrots and peas, and neither of them will be affected, each retaining its original flavor, with no obnoxious odors floating through the house.

These sheets come in squares around 21x24 inches, usually, which is sufficient to prepare a pretty good supply. As they lose some of their original resistance with constant use, two may be used together as they get older, thus assuring prevention of the juices escaping into the pot of boiling water. The time for cooking varies with the foods, depending upon the fiber, the freshness, and the tenderness. It is never recommended to cook greens and some other vegetables into a mushy softness; the taste is always more agreeable if served when still crisp and firm and holding its shape. Intense boiling destroys the life vigor that the vegetable captured originally from the oxygen of the atmosphere during its growth, and the mineral salts sucked up through its roots while buried in the soil.

Housewives will soon realize the numerous benefits to be gained in this ultra-modern manner of cooking, rejoicing in its use from the standpoint of infinitely less work entailed, not being required to stand over it and constantly watching and stirring it to prevent burning, the superior quality of nourishment; the quickness with which it can be prepared in emergency when time is limited; and, most important of all, the assurance that the important minerals (of which we hear so much on every hand these days) are not thrown down the sink. The moisture that naturally empties into the parchment paper while cooking is to be served right with the food itself.