Cooking School: Lesson 2, Week 1

We are starting the second chapter of this book: Cookery. 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 7 weeks versus the 11 weeks as originally taught. When we are finished, I am hoping we all have a good understanding (including myself) of cooking, itself!

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

  1. Cookery w/recipe Baking Bread (Saturday, April 27th, 2013)
  2. Fire
  3. How to Build a Fire w/recipe Potato Soup (Saturday, May 4th, 2013)
  4. Ways of Cooking
  5. Various Ways of Preparing Food for Cooking w/recipe Broiled Fish (Saturday, May 11th, 2013)
  6. How to Bone a Bird w/recipe Mashed Potatoes (Saturday, May 18th, 2013)
  7. How to Measure
  8. How to Combine Ingredients w/recipe Boiled Eggs (Saturday, May 25th, 2013)
  9. Ways of Preserving w/recipe Hash
  10. Table of Measures and Weights w/recipe Scalloped Eggs (Saturday, June 1st, 2013)
  11. Time Tables for Cooking w/recipe Blanc-Mange (Saturday, June 8th, 2013)

Chapter 2, Cookery

“Cookery is the art of preparing food for the nourishment of the body.”

Long before man figured out how to use fire, we were eating uncooked foods. As we have progressed, as a people, we have grown in our ways and means of cooking food. Cookery has grown to great proportions as people have found new ways and means of preparing food. When I was a student, we had cooking classes that boys and girls were required to take. More emphasis was placed on the girls, however, as that would be their primary purpose in life.

“Food is cooked to develop new flavors, and make it more palatable and digestible.”

The book states there is three elements “essential” to cooking (aside from what you are cooking):

  • Heat – “molecular motion, and is produced by combustion.” Use wood, coal, charcoal, coke (huh?), gas, gasoline, kerosene and alcohol. Three means of cooking by heat: radiation (microwave), conduction (stove top) and convection (oven).
  • Air – Composed of oxygen, nitrogen and argon. It is everywhere. Without air, no combustion may occur.
  • Moisture – Water – in the food or added to it. “Hardens albumen in eggs, fish, and meat; softens fibrous portions of meat, and cellulose of vegetables.” This is easy to remember – meat and eggs get harder (and easier to chew), vegetables get soft.

“Soft wood, like pine, on account of its course fibre, burns quickly; therefore makes the best kindling.”

Oak and ash are “hard woods” and burns slowly and is used in conjunction with pine as kindling. If cooking with a fire, hard wood is the preferred method.

For broiling, charcoal should be used. It is not often used as kindling.

“Coke is the solid product of carbonized coal,”

Alcohol is employed as fuel when the chafing-dish is used. My question is, what is a chafing-dish? A quick search on Google produced this answer:

“chaf·ing dish


A metal pan with an outer pan of hot water, used for keeping food warm.”

So, that would be the same as heating vegetables in a pan on top of a pan of boiling water. Yes?

That’s it for the first section. Just a quick overview of what cooking (and cookery) is all about. See y’all next week!

naia signature

*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.

Recipe: Baking Bread

This listed “recipe” isn’t so much of a recipe as an introduction to making bread. The following is (exactly) what it says:

“Bread is baked: (1) To kill ferment, (2) to make soluble the starch, (3) to drive off alcohol and carbon dioxide, and (4) to form brown crust of pleasant flavor. Bread should be baked in a hot oven. If the oven be too hot the crust will brown quickly before the heat has reached the centre, and prevent further rising; loaf should continue rising for the first fifteen minutes of baking, when it should begin to brown, and continue browning for the next twenty minutes. The last fifteen minutes it should finish baking, when the heat may be reduced. When bread is done, it will not cling to sides of pan, and may be easily removed. Biscuits require more heat than loaf bread, should continue rising the first five minutes, and begin to brown in eight minutes. Experience is the best guide for testing temperature of oven. Various oven thermometers have been made, but none have proved practical. Bread may be brushed over with melted butter, three minutes before removal from oven, if a more tender crust is desired.”

I’ve really taken to making breads and you’ll find a few recipes for doing so here on my blog. I’ve practiced on various types of bread and find that I enjoy making the bread by hand much more than the bread machine that was given to me. There is no better feeling than putting together a meal by hand for your family – right down to the bread.

Getting really good at making bread has eliminated that expense from my household budget. Something everyone could/should consider? At least, that’s my opinion.

Categories: Basics of Cooking, Cooking School | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Cooking School: Lesson 2, Week 1

  1. Pamela

    Naia. Re: chafing dish. Think buffet serving line. The idea is to keep cooked food warm (140 deg) rather than actually cooking it in the dish.

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