Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book – Part 7
The chapter on Vegetables reads:
“Green Sauce, sometimes ‘garden sauce’, vegetables were called in the day when meat and game formed the major part of the daily diet. Today vegetables are no mere accompaniment to meals. Dietitians demand two a day, not counting potatoes, and suggest that one at least of the two should be leafy, green or yellow, and preferably served raw.
It is hard to improve on the simplest way of serving cooked vegetables – proper cooking, and seasoning with salt, pepper and butter. But variations in method are well worth trying if only to change the menu and, by combinations, to use leftovers.
Vegetables buyers have cause for rejoicing in that old favorites are low-priced and, nowadays, available the year around. But in no filed of marketing are there more rapid fluctuations, more innovations, more opportunities for the canny purchaser to know her onions, her artichokes and her current prices.
New potatoes, baby carrots, and other first-o-the-season vegetables are usually a safer buy than first fruits and furnish seasonal excitement for the menu. Age is seldom a help to any vegetable; all except the root vegetable should be bought in small quantity, as used, from a dealer who keeps fresh stock. Potatoes, onions and other roots may be stored in a cool dry well-ventilated place.
Vegetables, like fruit should be washed carefully, not only to remove dirt but to cleanse them from poisonous sprays.
Canned Vegetables: Convenient and often more economical than fresh vegetables, canned products retain more nutrients than fresh vegetables which have been improperly cooked or kept too long. In preparing canned vegetables, plan to use or save the liquid in the can; one method is to boil it rapidly, uncovered, in a saucepan and heat the vegetable in the concentrated liquid. Soups or sauces offer other opportunities for using leftover juices.
Quick-Frozen Vegetables: These are ready to cook, and will be done in less time than fresh vegetables because the packing process includes quick blanching. Follow directions on the package.
Standard Method: Cook the vegetable as quickly as possible in a small amount of rapidly boiling water in a covered pan. Have the water boiling when the begetable is added and bring it back to a boil as rapidly as possible. Cook the vegetable until just tender – no longer. Some types of vegetables present individual problems and must be handled with slight variations (see below).
The cooking time of large vegetables may be considerably shortened by cutting them into smaller pieces – shredding cabbage, separating cauliflower into flowerets, cubing turnips and the like. When cabbage , cauliflower and other large vegeatbles are left whole, a large amount of water, sufficient to cover, is necessary.
Green Vegetables: The green color in vegetables is destroyed by acid. Since all vegetables contain some acid which is dissolved in the cooking water, loss of color cannot always be completely prevented. The answer to this color problem is to cook in the shortest possible time, for the acid does not work fast. The standard method should preferably be used, but the vegetables may be left uncovered during the first few minutes of cooking so that any volatile acids may pass off in steam. Some people prefer to cook green vegetables in a large amount of water. This method dilutes the acids so that they have a weaker action; hence less color is lost. On the other hand, cooking vegetables in a large amount of water takes longer and causes greater lostt of nutrients and flavour.
Use of soda to preserve green color is not advised under any circumstances because soda destroys vitamins and has a bad effect on flavor and texture.
Yellow Vegetables: Carrots, turnips and other yellow vegetables present no problem because they retain their color well. The standard method of cooking gives best results.
Red Vegetables: The natural colour of red cabbage tends to change toward blue unless the cooking water contains some acid. Lemon juice, vinegar or tart apple is commonly used for this purpose. Beets contain enough acid in themselves to void a disagreeable change in color. However, they also present a problem in that their coloring matter tends to dissolve into the cooking water, resulting in a pale pinkish colour. Cooking the whole beets in their skins, with an inch or two of stalk left on, helps retain the color, but requires a longer cooking time. If beets are cur up the smallest possible amount of water should be used.
White Vegetables: These usually retain their color very well if cooked rapidly in water to cover. If the cooking water is very hard, white vegetables may turn yellowish. To correct this add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water before cooking. Overcooking white vegetables causes an ugly grayish color.
Strong-Flavored Vegetables: This title for cabbage and for some other vegetables is misleading, since they develop a strong flavor only through improper cooking. When they are cooked qiuckly until just tender the disagreeable odor and color do not appear. These vegetables may be cooked by the standard method or in a large amount of water, uncovered, as preferred.
Baking and Oven-Steaming
Vegetables baked in their skins retain more nutrients than those cooked by any other method. Unfortunately, relatively few vegetables are adapted to this method of cookery
Most vegetables may be oven-steamed. Prepare them as for boiling, place in a baking dish with a small amount of water or other liquid, sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter, cover tightly and bake until tender. This takes longer than cooking over direct heat, but it saves fuel when the oven is in use for roasting or baking other foods, and loss of nutrients is small since a minimum of liquid is used.
Strong-juice vegetables, such as cabbage and onions, have a stronger flavor when steamed; green vegetables – with the exception of baby peas and spinach – lose color. Hence streaming is not recommended for vegetables of these types. For all other vegetables, however, steaming is the method of cooking in water which best preserves the nutrients. Prepare as for boiling and place in a perforated pan over boiling water; cover and steam until tender. Steaming takes longer than boiling, but there is no cooking water to dissolve nutrients.
Modern pressure saucepans make it possible to cook vegetables in a minimum of water and in a fraction of time required for regular boiling. Follow directions which accompany your saucepan. The pressure cooker may be used for vegetables which require long cooking, especially for large quantities.”
The chapter has 61 pages for vegetables dishes, some of which sound fabulous and a couple of ideas I would never have thought of. Now if I could just get around to making some of the recipes for the chapters I have shared with you.