Cooking School: Lesson 1, Week 1

As I said, we’ll try to follow along in the book as far as recipes but the lessons will be taken from the chapters themselves. The first chapter of this book covers Food and its uses. There are 16 sections in this chapter and we’ll try to condense them as much as possible over the next few weeks. The sections are:

  1. Food
  2. Correct Proportions of Food
  3. Water
  4. Salts
  5. Starch
  6. Sugar
  7. Gum Pectose and Cellulose
  8. Fats and Oils
  9. Milk
  10. Milk for the Sick
  11. Butter
  12. Cheese
  13. Fruits
  14. Vegetable Acids, and Where Found
  15. Condiments
  16. Flavoring Extracts

Chapter 1, Section 1: Food

“Food is anything which nourishes the body.”

Starting with such a simple beginning, the book continues with talk about the thirteen elements that are part of our body. Since the writing of this book, I’m quite sure they’ve come up with more elements; however, we’re following the book and it says there are thirteen. We’ve got “oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, chlorine, sodium, magnesium, iron and fluorine.” I am not going to go into a long scientific discussion about these elements. First, I’m not a chemist. Secondly, I have no clue where to begin. If any of my dear readers would like to study this section and give more information, I’d gladly put it up here as a “Guest Post” so all can enjoy it.

“Food is necessary for growth, repair and energy…”

We all know this is true: we eat to fill our bellies – our stomach digests the food and sends it out to give our body the nutrients we need to sustain life and, after we have met that level, we eat extra to grow. Some of us don’t know when to stop eating and growing and we end up getting overweight. And there are some that eat less than what they need to sustain life so that they may lose some of their extra weight. Fad or restrictive diets can help our bodies but can also damage them. If we don’t get enough of the nutrients that we need to sustain life, we end up getting sick.

If we don’t feed a baby, it doesn’t grow. Small people must have the nutrients mother gives them in her breast milk or some other from, such as formula, to sustain their life and grow big enough to eat on their own. That is one reason the government created the WIC program: mothers and babies up to a certain age are given plenty of money, in the form of vouchers, to supply them with the necessary foods for healthy growing in the stomach of the mother and when they are born. The biggest foods I’ve seen allowed with the WIC voucher program are milk and cheese.

Of course, any of us with little boys knows that boys can eat quite a bit of food as they enter their various growth spurts. Their bodies require so much to keep it going and, without it, they are stunted and unhealthy. There must be a fine balance between enough to eat and too much when those small men are growing. One way to continue the proper course is to ensure they are outdoors, as little boys need to be, while giving them plenty of protein to keep their little bodies going.

Children (and adults) who are not fed properly suffer from sickness and disease. If a body doesn’t have enough of the essentials, it will first stop creating what it considers the “extras” and focus solely on making sure it has enough to breathe and pump blood. Of course, by letting a body get to this point, it is losing its ability to fight and sustain life against all the diseases and sicknesses it encounters every day.

Who remembers the old adage, “starve a fever, feed a cold,” as I’ve been remembering it so fondly these past few days? While I have been battling one of the worst colds in my recent memory, I’ve also forced myself to eat. I’ve done tomato soup and chicken soup, I’ve stuffed myself with crackers and mild-flavored cookies in an effort to keep my energy levels high enough to fight off this horrendous cold I’ve acquired from my son. My goal was to, first and foremost, warm up my body. It had been fighting the cold so hard, it forgot to keep me warm. I had to eat and drink the soup to give myself the added warmth I needed. Secondly, I had to give it nutrients and help because it was exhausting so much of my energy to fight against the cold. The third reason for the soups and mild crackers/cookies is because I didn’t want my body to have to work double-time digesting food that I filled it with. Simple foods that digest easily meant there was more energy available for my body to fight with. I have finally started feeling human again; however, my taste buds are shot. I can’t taste anything that I’m eating but I’m hoping to enjoy my food again in the near future. Typically, when the taste buds go, it means the cold hit my sinuses. If I hadn’t started feeling better today, I would have visited the doctor on Monday to make sure I didn’t have a sinus infection going on.

Without feeding myself, would I have had the energy to fight this cold that wracked my body? Imagine a child. They don’t always know what is going on in their own body. It is up to us, as mothers, to know when they need to be stuffed to fight or let go to clean out their system. Nearly every mother I know can recognize when food is essential and when it is not needed. None of us will give our children any form of milk when they have the flu. We’ll stick to chicken soup (with or without the noodles) instead of tomato soup with milk in it. However, if they have a simple cold, we’ll stuff them full of any soup we can get them to eat. The warmth of the food going into their bellies sustains them long enough to fight off their uncomfortable aches and pains.

I do use Campbell’s Tomato Soup in a can but for the chicken noodle soup, I make my own. Campbell’s uses a simple recipe for the tomato soup and it does wonders when you’ve got a cold. You can make it with water or milk, as you prefer. A creamier taste will mean adding milk, a lighter taste will mean using water. For the chicken noodle soup, it’s simply chicken breast cooked and then soaked in chicken broth for as long as you need for it to taste good. I did not cook the noodles today. I wanted to limit my carb intake after the two days of tomato soup and crackers/cookies. When I make the chicken noodle soup, I use the Swanson Chicken Broth because it is light and easy on the stomach. It doesn’t have a lot of extras. I throw in some chopped celery, if I have it, and call it good. If you try Progresso, you’re sure to get all of your vegetables but, honestly, does anyone care about vegetables when they are sick? I’d rather have a simple soup to gobble down before laying back down on my pillow in agony. Vegetables are important but the extras in the can of soup from Progresso do take away the healthy parts of it. No matter how healthy something is listed as, nothing beats homemade and simple.

Two Types of Food: Organic and Inorganic

The Boston Cooking School Cook Book classifies foods into two groups: Organic and Inorganic. A copy of the chart is as follows:

Organic

  • Proteid (nitrogenous or albuminous)
  • Carbohydrates (sugar and starch)
  • Fats and oils

Inorganic

  • Mineral Matter
  • Water

“The chief office of proteids is to build and repair tissues.”

Proteid, or as I understand it, protein, contains the nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and suphur that are part of the essential elements of our body. A great place to find protein is in milk or cheese, eggs, meat and fish. I have learned, since being diagnosed as diabetic, that fish and seafood are the greatest amount of protein without the added fat content. If you can handle fish (which I can’t), then eat it at least a serving a day – if possible. Your heart will be so much happier. I may detest the taste of chicken but, as a runner-up to seafood, it’s great for the protein levels without too much of the damaging heart effects. I am speaking of white meat, of course. The dark meat isn’t too much healthier than a steak.

It says that protein is a good source of energy but not as good as carbohydrates. As a diabetic, I am to limit my carb intake but keep in mind that my body does require carbs to live. If I short-change myself too much on the necessary carbs, I could get high levels of ketones in my urine. Looking up the definition of Ketones to be sure I’ve gotten it right for y’all, I found this simple definition: “Ketones: Glucose (a type of sugar) is the body’s main energy source. But when the body can’t use glucose for energy, it uses fat instead. When fats are broken down for energy, chemicals called ketones appear in the blood and urine. This can occur when not enough food has been eaten to provide glucose for energy, or it can occur in diabetes, when the body can’t use glucose normally.” You’ll find that definition HERE.

In short, if I don’t take in enough carbohydrates to give my body energy, it’ll eat the fat. However, it will leave behind ketones which signify that my body isn’t being fed the nutrients it needs to sustain life. Limiting carb intake is fine – restricting it completely is bad. I am not going to go into a huge lecture about why it’s bad to force my body to eat itself for energy. Suffice it to say, letting your body eat itself in any instance is bad.

“The chief office of the carbohydrates is to furnish energy and maintain heat.”

One could assume, since I was freezing so badly the other night while super sick, I was low on carbohydrates. That is entirely possible and the tomato soup I gulped down did help in warming me up. Another thought could be that my body was using everything I had to fight the cold and didn’t have anything left to warm me with.

The book say continues by saying that carbs contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbs are primarily found in foods that are starches and sugars. Vegetables, fruits, cereal and sugars are excellent sources of carbs. Some vegetables are higher in starch (carbs) than others and should be limited if one wants to lower the amount of carbs they ingest every day. Personally, I stay away from the obvious like potato chips and snacks. However, some of the others that I limit severely are potatoes, rice and noodles. I love noodles so I have dropped the potatoes and rice nearly entirely but kept my noodles on occasion. For our dinners, we have some form of meat and some form of salad – even if it is just a fresh vegetable with Ranch dressing.

Typically, we have cucumbers or celery to add to our meal. On a good day, we have lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and another vegetable – like a cucumber or bell pepper. This is my way of limiting carbs in myself and my children but still giving us enough to sustain life – and enough for my boys to continue growing healthy.

“The chief office of fats and oils is to store energy and heat to be used as needed…”

This section is pretty small. Fats and oils store energy and heat. We’ve all got a super-skinny friend who is freezing, even in the middle of the summer. They have no fat to contain heat so they get cold faster than those of us who have a little “meat on our bones.” On the flip side, all of us know that, the more fat you have on your body, the more you sweat when you get warmed up. There has to be a middle-ground between what is healthy and what is not. We have to research and find our own “healthy” before deciding what to do about it.

“The chief office of mineral matter is to furnish the necessary salts which are found in all animal and vegetable foods.”

I’m not sure about this one. It doesn’t give a lot of information.

It finishes this section with water. A good two-thirds of our body is made up of water. It is in all our tissues and fluids and we can frequently forget to drink enough of it. We all know that we need to drink several glasses of water a day. It helps our muscles restore themselves after a work-out and gives us what we need to keep going. One thing I neglected while I was sick was drinking water. I couldn’t taste things very well and water was even worse. I did find a drink that tastes good enough to substitute for water. It is Wyler’s Light and it contains no sugars; however, it does contain aspartame and there are many that think it is extremely harmful to our bodies. I drink it because it tastes better than plain water but is not full of carbs to throw off my diabetes. Do your own research and see if it is right for you. I will say, the taste is wonderful.

That concludes this section of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. We’ll continue with the next section on Saturday, January 5th. That section is titled, “Correct Proportions of Food.” The next post will be the recipes to try this week. Remember, the recipes in this book do not give temperatures for the oven so we’ll be playing and figuring it out on our own.

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*All quotes (noted or not) are from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book c1904, my own personal copy, unless otherwise noted.

** All opinions stated here are my own, not medically backed, unless otherwise stated.

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