Cooking with Wood Cook Book and Instruction Guide
Cooking with Wood
By Mary D. Chambers, B.S., A.M.
Baking a crisp, juicy pie or a deftly browned loaf of bread or managing a Thanksgiving dinner is a worthwhile accomplishment. The kitchen range is close to the center of the home. It not only provides the main sustenance of life, but needed warmth for winter's cold and plentiful hot water to encourage the highly regarded virtue of cleanliness.
Hundreds of cookbooks and collections of recipes of famous chefs witness the desire for variety in palatable and wholesome dishes. The implements of cooking have made equally rapid strides until they approach close to perfection. But a recipe book and the finest equipped kitchen in the world do not make a cook. A good cook has learned how to handle her range so that it does her bidding without effort or "off days." And the cookbooks do not tell her. There seems to be very little help for those who are making their first acquaintance with a modern range. This booklet is an introduction to your stove-just a few hints to make the acquaintance ripen more rapidly and help you to a fuller enjoyment of the hours spent in the kitchen.
BUILDING THE FIRE
A good modern range is designed to get the greatest cooking and heating value out of the flue used. When the range and chimney draft are right, a properly controlled fire will do all the work required, without wasting fuel.
It is therefore necessary to bear in mind that the first problem of better baking is an understanding of the fire. If a match is lighted, the flame shoots upward. The hot blaze causes a DRAFT, drawing fresh air from below and supplying the oxygen necessary for combustion. The range simply makes use of this basic principle on a large scale.
To start the fire, then, have on hand plenty of free-burning fuel-dry paper and woodcut small. A folded newspaper will not burn freely, but a few sheets lightly twisted make a good first layer. Then a moderate supply of kindling wood, lay in loosely.
Before lighting, open the door or slide under the fire, also the direct draft to the chimney (over the oven) and the check slide at the base of smoke pipe and also the damper in the smoke pipe. The purpose is to promote a free passage of air up through the firebox to the chimney by the most direct route.
Remember that no stove has a draft of itself. The draft is furnished by the chimney through the stovepipe, which obviously must be tight in all its joints. Light the fire from below and allow it to get a good start. If it burns too slowly, it needs more oxygen, supplied by opening the door wide under the fire. If it burns too fast, it wiII produce more smoke than the chimney can draw off and the excess wiII be thrown out into the room. Partly closing the door under the fire will retard it. (The first fire in a new range usually causes a little surface smoke and oily odor. This is harmless and soon passes off).
Before applying coal, add a little more kindling. The grate should be well covered with a brisk fire, both to support and ignite the coal evenly and to prevent waste through the grate.
Never use kerosene to quicken a slow fire.
When the coal fire has a good start the oven damper may be closed.
The process of keeping up a good coal fire is merely one of adding more fuel, and occasionally "shaking down" to remove the ashes under the coal.
Do not allow ashes to collect close up under the grate. In fact, this is about the only way a grate is damaged in ordinary use.
Some housekeepers, who depend upon the kitchen heating adjoining rooms or for continuous hot water, maintain the same coal fire for months at a time.
When not in use for cooking, the oven door may to help heat the adjoining rooms.
CHECKING THE FIRE
If the draft of air through the firebox continues unchecked, the fuel soon burns out, and the top of the range gets red hot-a bad thing for the stove.
This may be accomplished in various ways-by closing tight the door and slide under the fire-by partially closing the damper in the stovepipe or pushing in the slide near the stove pipe collar on top of the range-by opening the slide in the broiler door at the end of the range over the fire- or by tipping the lids or covers over the fire. The chimney keeps pulling for air and reducing the amount of chimney allowing the air to rush in over the fire, instead of through it checks the fire.
Closing the damper over the oven also checks the degree, but the real purpose of this damper is to send the heat around the oven on its way to the chimney.
ADVANTAGE OF A LARGE FIRE BOX
The range should have a firebox large enough to keep a coal fire over night. Under proper damper control it will smolder all night and have sufficient life to rekindle quickly in the morning. Then, too, it requires far more fuel to start new fore frequently keep and old fire. If it is found that the fire does not keep over night, the trouble is due to one of two things. Either the draft is too strong, causing the fire to burn out, or too weak, causing the fire to die for lack of air.
No directions can be given in advance to cover every case, because chimney drafts vary so much, but there is some happy medium that can be determined by a little experiment. Generally speaking, the slide in the broiler door should be open at night and the slide under the smoke collar should be pushed to the left to some extent.
In any case, it is essential in the morning to get rid of quite a large body of ashes that has accumulated in the firebox. At least one-half and perhaps two-thirds of the contents of the fire box usually consists of ashes and coals which give no heat, and must be removed every morning to re-establish a good fire for baking. A half revolution of the dock ash grate wiII usually do this very nicely, and in fact this grate is designed for this particular purpose. If a stove is equipped with a plain grate, considerable shaking is necessary. The triangular grate may be handled similarly to the dock ash grate, turning one-third or two-thirds or even sometimes a full revolution.
The ashes should be removed from the ash pit or pan, both to improve the draft and to prevent injury to the grate.
It would be difficult to over-emphasize the trouble that can be avoided by a regular and systematic cleaning out of ashes and dying embers under the coal. A fire may look bright on top and yet be almost out. Its body of clinkers and ashes has little heating value and unless there are enough live coals on top to rekindle easily, it is better judgment to dump the fire and start new.
Naturally a deep coal fire will do more work than a shallow fire. Once well built up, a deep fire can be maintained more easily and with less fuel than a fire that half fills the firebox. However, the box should not be filled above the top of the bricks, as there is danger of overheating and warping the lids.
USING THE RANGE
The first question that enters the mind in regard to any range is "How well does it bake?" For that reason this book is called the "Secret of Better Baking."
But the range does many equally important things all at the same time. Broiling may be going on at the fire box end, boiling or frying in the center, simmering along the outskirts, baking in the oven, keeping dishes hot in the warming oven, heating adjoining rooms, and supplying a tank full of hot water.
If the range is a combination style with gas, its capacity is still further extended. Moreover, the complete coal and gas combination provides for a warm kitchen in winter and a cool kitchen in summer.
Understanding all the functions of the range permits the thrifty housewife to get the most out of it with the least effort.
COOKING ON TOP OF THE STOVE
Fill the teakettle before lighting the fire and get all the advantage of the first flames. When a new fire is built, the strong direct draft up the chimney tends to draw the hot flames close under the center of the stove. Over a fresh wood fire the breakfast coffee sometimes boils quicker in the center of the stove than on the less heated lids directly over the firebox. Perhaps the dish of water for the four-minute egg refuses to come to a boil. Why? -Because the cook has not learned that water will boil quicker if a cover is put on the dish. A cover on the spider has the same effect and also keeps the stove cleaner. A' little later, when the fire is well going, the whole top of the range is hot enough for boiling in large kettles or heating the flats for ironing, where electric ironing is not practicable.
FIRE FOR BROILING
Broiling should be prepared for in advance. The fire should be built up high and show an even surface of clear red-hot coals. Good broiling requires intense heat for a short time, over coals that are past the flaming and gas producing stage.
Open the oven damper so the smoke will go directly up the chimney; also give the fire some draft underneath. Take off the two lids over the fire and sear over your sirloin, chop or fish as quickly as possible, with frequent turning. This quick searing of the surface tends to prevent the escape of the juices and rewards the cook with a toothsome article of food impossible to produce in any other way. (A little olive oil on the steak before or after broiling gives a wonderful flavor.) A coal or charcoal fire is the selection of the world's finest chefs for broiling. Anything broiled should be served as soon as it comes off the fire. If that is impracticable, put it on a platter and keep hot in the oven.
USE OF THE OVEN
The real test of the range is in the baking. Nothing but individual experience is a safe guide in the handling any particular range, but the general principle is the same.
When the fire is first started, the flames rush over the top of the oven and thence directly to the chimney. This heats the top of the oven, while the bottom remains comparatively cool.
The entire oven must be heated and the body of fire must be sufficient to maintain an even heat for a considerable length of time. The oven becomes evenly heated by closing the oven damper, forcing the flames and smoke down one side and under the oven, entirely around and up again to reach the chimney. Foods prepared for baking or roasting differs widely in the time and temperature required for cooking. A little practice will determine the correct temperature and best location in the oven for different bakes.
In a coal range, baking is done directly on the bottom of the oven or on the raised rack. Never attempt to bake with the rack placed on the bottom of the oven. In gas ovens, however, baking is not done on the bottom of the oven, but only on the raised racks.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR RANGE
Stove blackening protects the stove from rust and takes a high polish. If applied frequently and not overdone, the range will always look like new. A common fault is to put on too much blacking, leaving a surplus that smooches the bottoms of pans and rubs off on the clothing.
Modern ranges of the better class now show little of the raised scroll designs that formerly covered the sides and made a great deal of extra work in blacking.
Ranges finished in enamel are easily cleaned with a damp cloth and require no blacking.
Repeated overheating of the top in time causes a burning off of its original finish, leaving a dull surface.
Whenever the top gets red hot, check the fire immediately. Frequent overheating Causes warping and expanding and sometimes cracking of the covers.
If the range is in a cottage that is closed during the winter, it is a good plan to take down the stovepipe and put it away in a dry place. Also if the range has a waterfront or coil for hot water, extra care must be taken to drain the pipes dry before closing the house.
HOW TO COOK ON YOUR RANGE
A little foresight ad planning ahead will save you many dollars in fuel and permit you to get greater service out of your range. So long as there is a fire going it should be cooking something or keeping cooked food warm. The old-fashioned stockpot is an example. It remained on top of the stove all the time, taking anything that would contribute to wholesome soups and stews. The stockpot could be used to advantage, where canned soups are not easily obtained. The breakfast cereal, cooked the night before, will be improved if kept warm on the back of the stove.
Coffee, tea, soups and stews-anything that should be served hot-will keep hot much longer after serving if the oven has been used for a few moments to heat the dishes.
USE OF THE WARMING OVEN
Plates may be kept warm in the warming oven, but this is not all that may be done in it. Dried fruit, such as prunes, figs, and raisins, may be put to soak in water in the warming oven, left there for hours and hours, developing a richness and sweetness that cannot be otherwise produced.
One of the attributes of a good cook is a knack of serving hot dishes hot. This is not always easy when· there is considerable variety in the "menu." Here is where the warming oven may play an important part and cause the guests to wonder, "How she does it."
For example, a thick sirloin. If properly timed, it may be broiled just short of completion. Then while the accompanying dishes are made ready to serve, put the steak on a platter with plenty of butter in the warming oven. The heat contained in the meat with the heat contributed by the warming oven completes the cooking and your steak is done to a turn, juicy and delicious, on a platter that will keep it hot. This is one 6f the secrets of the expert broiler of steaks.
Puddings, such as creamy rice pudding, Indian pudding, apple tapioca, steamed fruit pudding and others, may be much improved by placing in the warming oven for an hour after baking or steaming.
Stale bread may be dried out in the warming oven for rolling and sifting, and pulled bread and croutons for soups may be put into the warming oven and they will cook of their own accord, without looking after them.
Jelly that has not jelled will sometimes jell after a day or a half-day in the warming oven, and even fruit that is half-ripe will ripen after a time in this convenient place, with a dish of water set beside the fruit to keep it from drying out.
USE OF THE BAKING OVEN
We all know the New England Boiled Dinner. Not everyone knows the "Atlantic" Baked Dinner. About an hour and a half before dinner time, put into "the oven, heated as for bread baking, a four to five pound chicken, or a cut from the leg of veal or lamb, and a dish of scalloped potatoes. Keep the temperature even. Three quarters of an hour later add three large carrots, scraped, and cut in halves lengthwise, placing them on the rack of the pan that holds the meat. In another fifteen minutes put in six tomatoes, in an earthen baking dish. By the time the tomatoes are done-fifteen or twenty minutes-a baked dinner for six persons will be ready to serve. After removing the meat and vegetables from the oven, if you place in it six fruit patties, or six cup custards in a pan with an inch or more of water, these will be ready to serve for dessert.
BAKING WITH GRADUALLY INCREASING HEAT
Popovers, cream puffs, and éclairs, angel cake and sponge cakes are easier to bake successfully if put into a quite cool oven and the temperature gradually increased.
BAKING WITH GRADUALLY DECREASING HEAT
Four mixtures that are of a special shape which should be preserved, like the fancy braided loaves, and Parker House rolls, ought to go into a very hot oven, so that a crust will immediately form, to preserve the shape, and then the baking may proceed at quite a low temperature.
All meats, fish, and poultry are also better cooked at a high temperature to begin with to hold in the juices-then a gradual reduction of heat. Baste frequently.
BAKING WITH UNIFORM TEMPERATURE
Bread, cakes, pies, and vegetable may be baked at uniform temperature, or with a slight gradual increase or decrease.
All good cooks know the most important secret of all:
WHILE THE BAKE IS ON, MAKE A JOB OF IT
No two conditions of range and draft are exactly alike-in fact they will differ in your own home, depending on the weather or the direction of the wind. There is a wide difference in the quality of coal. Some coal ignites easily and bums out quickly -other kinds hold the heat much longer. A set of exact rules for one situation would not fit another. In any case there must be a good body of fire to hold the oven at a cooking temperature. The' articles that are being baked or roasted may do better on the rack than on the bottom of the oven, or vice versa. No definite rules made for one situation would be at all valuable as compared with the stored-up knowledge gained from EXPERIENCE-remembering how the oven acted before under similar conditions and making it serve you better and better with every day's acquaintance.
OTHER HIGH OR LOW STARTING TEMPERATURES
In many cases, cooking started at a low temperature, gradually increasing, will develop a quite different taste from the same food started at high heat. Boiled custards, if made with cold milk, are more delicate than if the milk is added very hot.
Scrambled eggs or omelets cooked on a fiercely hot pan from the start take on a richer flavor than when started on a rather cool pan. It is necessary to work fast, however, as overcooking on a very hot pan produces a result that resembles rubber in texture.
Those who enjoy a really good cup of coffee will agree that there is a surprising difference in taste. A cup of real coffee has much more in it than hot water and dark brown color. It should be good if you start with a good blend (ground at home just before using) and are not too economical of the quantity used. For some reason, coffee made in one-cup portions lacks the character of the larger brew. Adding the shells of fresh eggs or a raw egg beaten up with the coffee before boiling, both enriches the flavor and produces a much clearer beverage.
Coffee tastes quite differently when started with cold or hot water. It is the general opinion that a better result is obtained by mixing with a little cold water and bringing to a boil-then add boiling water and set back a few minutes to settle.
Cereals take on a different flavor, depending on whether they are started in cold or hot water. Which is the better flavor is a matter of taste.
WHAT HAPPENS IN COOKING PHYSICAL CHANGES
Wonderful things happen in cooking, and we do not yet know all of them, or the reasons for them-though the reasons for physical changes are better understood than those for chemical changes. Nearly every thing loses weight in cooking. Meat, even when it is boiled in water, loses weight from its shrinkage through heat, which squeezes out much of its water content. Melting of the fat, too, results in loss of weight. More weight in proportion is lost in cooking a small piece of meat than in cooking a large piece, but an allowance of 25% loss in weight is a fair average.
Bread and cakes swell, but though they increase in volume, they lose in weight through evaporation of water. It requires two extra ounces of dough to produce a one-pound loaf of bread. Cereals, also macaroni and other Italian pastes, increase greatly in both weight and volume, through absorption of water. So do dried vegetables and fruits. Though other physical changes occur, those in weight and volume are the most important in cooking.
The change in color of red meat to gray is one of the physical changes that indicate a chemical change. Heat causes a breaking up of the chemical substance to which meat owes its red tint. The brown crust on the loaf, or on the outside of the cake or pie, means that starch has been changed to dextrin, and sugar caramelized.
In boiling fruit and sugar together, as in making cranberry or apple sauce, a chemical change is brought about in the sugar, which is transformed into another kind of sugar not so sweet as the granulated cane that was originally used. This new sugar is only three-fifths as sweet. Here then is a hint for economy of sugar, by cooking the fruit sauce without sugar, and adding sugar when the fruit is done. In this last way, theoretically, three pounds of sugar will sweeten as much as five pounds that were cooked in with the fruit-provided it was cooked long enough to change it completely into the form of glucose that is only three-fifths as sweet as cane. In any case there will be considerable saving of sugar when it is added last.
Many other important and interesting chemical changes occur in cooking, but a review of them here would not add a great deal of practical value in everyday use of the range.
The foregoing hints are confined largely to the mechanical operation and care of the range. So much depends on the preparation of foods for cooking that the temptation to add several pages of palatable recipes is very strong.- Recipes are easily obtained, however, and the real purpose of this booklet is to suggest ways of getting consistently better results with the range and draft as they are. If the range "works well" all the time, both the stove and the draft are all right. If the range has "off days," the chimney draft needs attention. A cleaning out may help or perhaps an extension of the chimney to a point where the air currents will improve the draft.
If you are getting good results only part of the time, you should get much better results the rest of the time, by making a study of the conditions of fire and draft, when the stove is at its best. If the range fails to give satisfaction the greater part of the time, look for serious defects in the range itself or in the conditions of its installation or operation. No range could do satisfactory work any of the time if it had serious defects. If it is racked or broken or worn out, it is past its usefulness. Its operation becomes rapidly more wasteful and irritating and the early installation of a new range will be good economy and good sense.
• This may become the subject of a separate volume and we would be glad of any suggestions. If you have a favorite recipe, especially one that has not been published, we would be glad to have you contribute it for this book. The Portland Stove Foundry Co., Portland, Maine.
THE SELECTION OF THE RANGE
If you are becoming interested in a new range for the first time, you will be surprised at a number of things-the variety of styles and finishes-the refinement and simplicity of design-the improvements in the grate and especially the many combinations for coal, wood and gas.
A somewhat recent innovation is the porcelain enamel finish, that is always polished, requires no blacking, only wiping with a damp cloth-attractive in itself even as a piece of furniture. No other article in the home means so much to the entire family as the kitchen range. Health and comfort are dependent upon it. No wonder a good housekeeper takes pride in the contentment of her family over the good things for the table that she provides-the extra heat in cold weather-the abundance of hot water on tap all the time and many other things for which the modern range is equipped.
The variety of ranges is so great that a study of one's special needs should precede the final selection.
Ask yourself several questions.
The kitchen range usually does its work so well that its virtues are taken for granted. When it breaks down from old age, or when the expected new range is delayed in delivery, the whole family realizes what an advance has been made since the days of kettles hung in fireplaces and cuts of meats slowly roasted on wooden "spits."
Fifty years ago a resident of Portland, Maine, had a notion that the clumsy and inconvenient cooking apparatus of the period could be very much improved. He made it a life study. Useless weight removed in one place, strength added in another, improved draft control, quicker oven response, warming ovens, easier operation of grates, facilities for utilizing idle heat to supply abundant hot water at no extra cost, combination designs for coal, wood and gas, improvements in symmetry and simplicity of design to make less work-a hundred and one improving features that have banished forever the old-time drudgery of working in the kitchen.
It requires a great many sizes and styles to meet all the various requirements in ranges for coal, wood and gas, but whenever you select a range of any style with the name "Atlantic" on the oven door, you are sure of securing the guaranteed product of this same Portland company. The range quality that has been developed in the "Atlantic" during the last half century will make it quite simple for you to master the secrets of better baking.
A modern range like this makes housekeeping a pleasure. So simple in outline and surface ornamentation that it is very easy to keep clean- so skillfully proportioned that it does not encumber a very small kitchen-so responsive, easily controlled and economical of fuel! Whether finished in satin black, or the new and popular gray porcelain enamel, these ranges are exceptionally good to look at. And at least six hundred styles, finishes and combinations for coal, wood and gas! Whatever style you select, after considering everything that you want your range to do, you can be sure of having chosen wisely, and that the makers of your "Atlantic" will protect you in your purchase.