Cooking School: Lesson 1, Week 2

We are still covering the first chapter of this book: Food. I promised a recipe at the end of every lesson; however, the recipe called for in my book, Breakfast Cereal, could not be found. We’ll skip the first recipe but follow up this week with the recipe for Baked Apples. The dates listed are the dates for the lessons. Any section not covered with a date will be included on the date given after that section. This way, I can condense the sections and get through this quickly but efficiently, skipping nothing. This entire lesson will take 6 weeks versus the 10 weeks as originally taught. When we are finished, I am hoping we all have a good understanding (including myself) of food and its uses so we can continue on with the meat of the class: cooking good food!

As a reminder, the sections (and dates) are:

  1. Food w/recipe Breakfast Cereal (Saturday, December 29th, 2012)
  2. Correct Proportions of Food
  3. Water w/recipe Baked Apples (Saturday, January 5th, 2013)
  4. Salts
  5. Starch
  6. Sugar w/recipe Creamed Chicken (Saturday, January 12th, 2013)
  7. Gum Pectose and Cellulose
  8. Fats and Oils w/recipe Boiled Potatoes (Saturday, January 19th, 2013)
  9. Milk
  10. Milk for the Sick w/recipe Dry Toast (Saturday, January 26th, 2013)
  11. Butter
  12. Cheese w/recipe Milk Toast (Saturday, February 2nd, 2013)
  13. Fruits
  14. Vegetable Acids, and Where Found
  15. Condiments
  16. Flavoring Extracts w/recipe Boiled Coffee (Saturday, February 9th, 2013)

Chapter 1, Section 2: Correct Proportions of Food

“Age, sex, occupation, climate, and season must determine the diet of a person in normal condition.”

Last week, we discussed the nutrients found in various foods and what they are used for. Today, we’ll talk about the correct proportions of various foods. As the book suggests and we typically already know, many factors can dictate a change in the standards of what is needed on an average day. Height, weight, type of work, climate and health/age/sex can all change the basic needs. However, we all need a place to start from.

A child typically gets milk from mother or formula for the first year of life. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book says 18 months for a child to be on milk. Most of us start introducing foods to our babies as soon as they can hold them. We get them zwieback toast, cheerios and other soft foods when they start to grasp things with their pudgy little hands. There are many choices for mashed foods to start your young-un on as soon as they start to hanker for it (or you get tired of nursing or feeding them a bottle). I learned with my own son that some things should be waited. We learned he was allergic to apples at 6 months old. We might have avoided this if not for two things. First, mom (me) drank quite a bit of apple juice right after giving birth to him and nursing him. Secondly, if I had waited a bit longer before introducing apple juice, could he have handled it better? As of right now, we’re waiting to see if he outgrows it when he gets closer to puberty. However, we offer him no apples at all until then.

The book cautions that children who have an issue, overworked or very tired, typically have an undernourished diet. That should be the first thing that gets checked and corrected, before any other steps are taken. Children are also constantly hungry as their little bodies use up the energy given to them almost as soon as they eat it. Don’t hold your child back from snacking on the right foods but also don’t forget to give them plenty of time to work off that energy. A baby (and young child) will go through growth-spurts. At this time, they will eat more and seemingly have empty stomachs from the time they get up to the time they fall asleep at night. Don’t hold them back – just make sure they are snacking and eating the healthiest options at these times.

In using this book as a reference, I have to give you their guidelines for what an average adult requires on an average day:

  • 3 ½ oz protein
  • 10 oz starch
  • 3 oz fat
  • 1 oz salt
  • 5 pints water

It states that 1/3rd of all water is taken in by our food. We should be mindful and make sure to drink as much fluids by form of water as possible. It goes on to say that women don’t need as much food as man, even though we may do the same amount of work. A person who uses their brain at work should be mindful to eat foods that are easily digested. Fish and eggs are recommended for those who do most of their “work” and “activity” with their brain power and not their muscles. Those who work outside could handle having a heavier meal, since their physical activity would allow the stomach to keep busy. It recommends Corned Beef, Cabbage, Brown-Bread and pastries. There is also a caution that old age means we should increase our carbohydrates and limit the fats and proteins.

Always consult your doctor for the latest in medical information and recommendations. This information is the product of research during the late 1800s, early 1900s and may have changed. However, it makes sense. If you’re working outside, you’ll need more energy. Thus, an addition of some carbohydrates would be ok. If you’re working inside at a desk all day, having a high protein (but not fat) diet would work for you. As I said before, shrimp and fish are excellent sources of protein without a bunch of added carbs. Of course, someone who is working physically outside all day could get away with a soda but someone behind a desk all day should limit to water or other non-carbonated beverage.

Since I have read information that too much coffee on a continuing basis can cause prostate cancer, I recommend some serious research before settling to a coffee diet (zero carbs unless you get a fru-fru drink) when sitting at your desk all day. I recommend that for men, anyway. For myself, I find that I can drink my Wyler’s Light water flavoring or coffee all day long. I have noticed a touch of heart burn quite frequently and will try to lower my coffee intake to reduce this problem. It’s not easy when there aren’t a lot of other options for me – as a diabetic. Water all day isn’t the optimum choice as far as taste buds.

Chapter 1, Section 3: Water

“Water is a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid.”

According to the book, we get water from five different sources: rains, rivers, surface-water or shallow wells, deep wells and springs. It also says that water is never pure where we find it. We are always making sure it is clean and clear before serving it up. Natural spring water, which you can pay for, isn’t really natural – if the book is to be believed. It has to be tested and purified before reaching our lips.

If you live in an area that has “hard water,” it would mean that “the amount of salts of lime and magnesia which it contains” change the pureness of it. If you have “soft water,” it is free of “objectionable salts.” This is what we prefer to have and we have our own hard-water softeners built into our homes to correct the problem. You can also soften hard water by boiling it.

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the book, water boils at a lower temperature when at higher altitudes. I’ve recently started studying the altitude idea with my canning experiments. I have to get to 13 pounds pressure instead of the sea-level 10 pounds pressure on my pressure cooker to can meats and other lower-acidic food items.

The following are guidelines about water:

  • 32⁰ F to 65⁰ F – cold water
  • 65⁰ F to 92⁰ F – tepid water
  • 92⁰ F to 100⁰ F – warm water
  • 101⁰ F and above – hot water

If you boil water, you can get rid of any impurities. If you drink hot water versus cold, you can settle an upset stomach. If it has been distilled, it is chemically pure and can be used for medicinal purposes. Those are just some of the good things about water. You drink it to keep your body refreshed; you drink it to fill an empty tummy when you are away from food. A glass of water at the dinner table would not go amiss.

One thing I do with my boys is switch out now and again. If we go somewhere, they typically have a Bug Juice to drink. It has a high sugar content but, occasionally, when I feel like giving them something better, I hand them a bottle of water. They drink it just as they would the Bug Juice and I feel better knowing that their taste buds are getting used to something that is “odorless, tasteless and transparent.” If only I would do the same thing for myself. I never drink enough water. How about you?

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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.

This week’s recipe, as written directly from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book:

Baked Apples

“Wipe and core sour apples. Put in a baking-dish, and fill cavities with sugar and spice. Allow one-half cup sugar and one-fourth teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg to eight apples. If nutmeg is used, a few drops lemon juice and few gratings form rind of lemon to each apple is an improvement. Cover bottom of dish with boiling water, and bake in a hot oven until soft, basting often with syrup in dish. Serve hot or cold with cream. Many prefer to pare apples before baking. When this is done, core before paring, that fruit may keep in shape. In the fall, when apples are at their best, do not add spices to apples, as their flavor cannot be improved; but towards spring they become somewhat tasteless, and spice is an improvement.”

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