Read Vegetables‚ Fruit Desserts‚ Sandwiches of Dishes & Beverages of the Old South , free online book, by Martha McCulloch Williams, on

Tomato Layer: Peel and slice a dozen meaty tomatoes, slice thin six mild onions, cut the corn from half a dozen large ears, saving the milk. Cover an earthen baking dish with a layer of tomatoes, season well with salt and pepper, also the least suspicion of sugar. Lay onion slices over, sprinkle lightly with salt, then add a layer of corn, seasoning it with salt and a little sugar. Repeat till the dish is full. Pour over the corn milk, the tomato juice, and a heaping tablespoonful of melted butter. Bake in a hot oven half an hour, covering it for twenty minutes, then browning uncovered. When corn is not in season, very crisp brown bread crumbs may take its place. But it should be against the law to put soft crumbs or any sort of bread uncrisped, into cooked tomatoes. A green pepper shredded and mixed through the layers adds to the flavor for the devotees of green peppers.

Corn Pudding: Slit lengthwise the grains in eight large ears of corn, scrape out the pulp carefully, saving all milk that runs. The corn should be full, but not the least hard if it has reached the dough state, the grains will keep shape. Beat three eggs very light, with half a teaspoonful salt, a tablespoonful sugar, plenty of black pepper, and paprika, half a cup of very soft butter, and half a cup sweet cream. Add the corn pulp and milk, stir well together if too thick, thin with a little milk. Pour into a pudding dish, cover and bake ten minutes, then uncover, and bake until done.

Fried Corn: Fry crisp, half-pound streaky bacon, take up, and put into the fat, bubbling hot, eight large ears of corn cut from the cob, and seasoned with salt and black pepper. Add also the corn-milk, stir well together for five minutes, then put an asbestos mat under the skillet and let stand till the corn forms a thick brown crust over the bottom. Pour out, loosen this crust with a knife, lay on top the corn, lay on also the crisp bacon, and serve very hot. A famous breakfast dish down south all through “Roas’in’ ear time.” That is to say, from July to October.

Hulled Corn: Known otherwise as lye hominy, and samp. Put a pint of clean strong wood ashes into half a gallon of water, boil twenty minutes or until the water feels slippery. Let settle, drain off the clear lye, and pour it upon as much white flint corn, shelled and picked, as it will cover. Let stand until the hulls on the grains slip under pressure commonly twelve to twenty-four hours. Drain off lye, cover with cold water, rubbing and scrubbing the grains between the hands, till all are free of husks. Soak them in clear water, changing it every few hours till no taste of lye remains. Then boil slowly in three times its bulk of water, adding a little salt, but not much, until very tender. A grain should mash between finger and thumb. Fill up as the water boils away, and take care not to scorch. Cool uncovered, and keep cool. To cook, dip out a dishful, fry it in bubbling bacon fat as directed for corn. Or warm in a double boiler, and serve with butter and sugar or cream and sugar, as a cereal. Use also as a vegetable the same as rice or green corn. Hominy pudding, baked brown, and highly seasoned, helps out a scant dinner wonderfully, as corn is the most heating of grains, as well as one of the most nutritious.

Steamed Potatoes: Wash clean a dozen well-grown new potatoes, steam until a fork will pierce, dry in heat five minutes, then peel, and throw into a skillet, with a heaping tablespoonful of butter, well-rolled in flour, half a pint of rich milk, ten drops onion juice, salt and pepper to taste, and a teaspoonful of chopped parsley. The sauce must be bubbling when the potatoes are put in. Toss them in it for five minutes, put in deep dish and pour the gravy over. Serve very hot.

Candied Sweet Potatoes: Boil medium potatoes of even size, till a fork will pierce steaming is better though a bit more trouble throw in cold water for a minute, peel, and brush over with soft butter, then lay separately in a wide skillet, with an inch of very rich syrup over the bottom and set over slow fire. Turn the potatoes often in the syrup, letting it coat all sides. Keep turning them until candied and a little brown. If wanted very rich put butter and lemon juice in the syrup when making it. Blade mace also flavors it very well.

Tipsy Potatoes: Choose rather large potatoes, peel, and cut across into round slices about half an inch thick. Pack these in a baking dish with plenty of sugar, and butter, mace, yellow lemon peel, pounded cloves, and a single pepper corn. Add half a cup boiling water, cover and bake till a fork pierces, then uncover, add a glass of rum, and keep hot, but not too hot, until serving time. Or you can use half a pint of claret, instead of the boiling water. Still another way, is to mix a glass of sherry with a spoonful of cream, and add it to the dish five minutes before it goes to table. Sweet cider can take the place of wine. So can lemon or orange juice. But to my thinking, the Demon Rum, or his elder brother whiskey, is best of all.

Left-over Sweet Potatoes: Peel, slice thick, dip in melted butter, roll in sugar well seasoned with grated lemon peel, and nutmeg, lay in a pan so as not to touch and make very hot in the oven. This last estate is always better than the first.

Potato Balls: Mash boiled or baked sweet potatoes smooth, seasoning them well with salt, pepper, cinnamon, a little nutmeg, and melted butter. Bind with a well-beaten egg, flour the hands, and roll the mashed potato into balls the size of large walnuts. Roll the balls in fine crumbs or sifted cornmeal, drop in deep hot fat, fry crisp, drain, and use as a garnish to roast pork, roast fowl, or broiled ham.

Bananas: Bananas are far too unfamiliar in the kitchen. They can be cooked fifty ways and in each be found excellent. The very best way I have yet found, is to peel, slice in half, lengthwise, lay in a dish with a cover, shake sugar over, add a little mace, lemon juice, lemon peel, and melted butter, then bake until soft seven to fifteen minutes in a hot oven, according to the quantity in the dish. Or peel and slice, leave unseasoned, and lay in the pan bacon has been cooked in, first pouring away most of the fat. Cook five minutes in a hot oven, and send to table with hot bread, crisp bacon and coffee for breakfast. A thick slice of banana, along with a thick slice of tart apple, both very lightly seasoned, makes a fine stuffing for squabs. Half a banana delicately baked, and laid on a well-browned chop adds to looks and flavor.

Baking Vegetables: Paper bags taught me the ease and value of cooking vegetables in the oven rather than on top the stove. Less care is required, less water, rather less heat. Peas and lima beans, for example, after shelling, should be well washed, put in a pan with salt, seasoning and a little water, covered close, and baked in a hot oven half an hour to an hour. Green corn is never so well cooked, outside a paper bag, as by laying it on a rack in a covered pan, putting a little water underneath, covering close and setting the pan for nine minutes in a hot oven. It is sweeter and richer than even when put in cold unsalted water, brought to a boil, cooked one minute, then taken up. But however heat is applied, long cooking ruins it. Cook till the milk is set not a second longer. Green peas should have several tender mint leaves put in with them, also sugar in proportion of a teaspoonful to half a pint of shelled peas. Lima beans are better flavored if the butter is put with them along with the water. Use only enough to make steam say two tablespoonfuls to a fair-sized pan. Spinach and beet greens also bake well, but require more water. Leave out salt, adding it after draining and chopping them. They take twenty to thirty minutes, according to age.

All manner of fruits, berries in especial, cook finely in the oven. Put in earthen or agate ware, with sugar, spices and a little water, cover close and cook half to three quarters of an hour, according to bulk. Uncover then if done take up, if not let cook uncovered as long as needed. Set the baking dishes always on rack or a grid-shelf, never on the oven bottom nor solid metal. Thus the danger of burning is minimized, also the need of stirring.

For cauliflower au gratin, cut the head into florets, lay them compactly in the baking dish, add a little water, with salt, pepper and butter. Bake covered until tender, then shake over the grated cheese, and set back in the oven three to five minutes. Tomatoes, peeled and whole except for cutting out the eyes, baked in a dish with a liberal seasoning of salt, pepper, and butter, a strewing of sugar and a little onion juice, look and taste wholly unlike stewed tomatoes, common or garden variety.

Boiling with Bacon: Get a pound of streaky bacon, cut square if possible, scrape and wash clean, put on in plenty of water, with a young onion, a little thyme and parsley, bring to a quick boil, throw in cold water, skim the pot clean, then let stand simmering for two to three hours. Add to it either greens mustard, turnip, or dandelion or field salad, well washed and picked, let cook till very tender, then skim out, drain in a colander, lay in a hot dish with the square of bacon on top. Here is the foundation of a hearty and wholesome meal. The bacon by long boiling is in a measure emulsified, and calculated to nourish the most delicate stomach rather than to upset it. Serve two thin slices of it with each helping of greens. You should have plenty of Cayenne vinegar, very hot and sharp, hot corn bread, and cider or beer, to go along with it.

String beans, known to the south country as snaps, never come fully to their own, unless thus cooked with bacon. Even pork does not answer, though that is far and away better than boiling and buttering or flooding with milk sauces. It is the same with cabbage. Wash well, halve or quarter, boil until very tender, drain and serve. Better cook as many as the pot will hold and the bacon season, since fried cabbage, which is chopped fine, and tossed in bacon fat with a seasoning of pepper, salt and vinegar, helps out wonderfully for either breakfast, luncheon or supper. Never throw away proper pot-liquor it is a good and cheap substitute for soup on cold days. Heat, and drop into it crisp bread-crusts if they are corn bread crusts made very brown, all the better. Pioneer folk throve on pot-liquor to such an extent they had a saying that it was sinful to have too much pot-liquor and buttermilk at the same meal.

Fruit Desserts: Fruits have affinities the same as human beings. Witness the excellent agreement of grape fruit and rum. Nothing else, not the finest liqueur, so brings out the flavor. But there are other fruits which, conjoined to the grape fruit, make it more than ever delicious. Strawberries for example. They must be fine and ripe. Wash well, pick, wash again, halve if very large, and mix well in a bowl with grape fruit pulp, freed of skin and seed, and broken to berry size. Add sugar in layers, then pour over a tumbler of rum, let stand six hours on ice, and serve with or without cream.

Strawberries mixed with ripe fresh pineapple, cut to berry size, and well sweetened, are worthy of sherry, the best in the cellar, and rather dry than sweet. Mixed with thin sliced oranges and bananas, use sound claret but do not put it on until just before serving let the mixed fruits stand only in sugar. Strawberries alone, go very well with claret and sugar adding cream if you like. Cream, lightly sweetened, flavored with sherry or rum, or a liqueur, and whipped, gives the last touch of perfection to a dessert of mixed fruit, or to wine jelly, or a cup of after-dinner coffee, or afternoon chocolate.

A peach’s first choice is brandy it must be real, therefore costly. Good whiskey answers, so does rum fairly. A good liqueur is better. Sherry blends well if the fruit is very ripe and juicy. Peel and slice six hours before serving, pack down in sugar, add the liqueur, and let stand on ice until needed. Peaches cut small, mixed with California grapes, skinned and seeded, also with grape fruit pulp broken small, and drowned in sherry syrup, are surprisingly good. Make the sherry syrup by three parts filling a glass jar with the best lump sugar, pouring on it rather more wine than will cover it, adding the strained juice of a lemon, or orange, a few shreds of yellow peel, and a blade of mace, then setting in sunshine until the sugar dissolves. It should be almost like honey no other sweetening is needed. A spoonful in after-dinner coffee makes it another beverage just as a syrup made in the same way from rum, sugar and lemon juice, glorifies afternoon tea.

White grapes halved and seeded mixed with bananas cut small, and orange pulp, well sweetened and topped with whipped cream, either natural or “laced” with sherry, make another easy dessert. Serve in tall footed glasses, set on your finest doilies in your prettiest plates. Lay a flower or a gay candy upon the plate it adds enormously to the festive effect and very little to the trouble.

A spoonful of rich wine jelly, laid upon any sort of fresh fruit, to my thinking, makes it much better. Cream can be added also but I do not care for it indeed do not taste it, nor things creamed. Ripe, juicy cherries, pitted and mixed equally with banana cubes, then sweetened, make a dessert my soul loves to recall. Not caring to eat them I never make ice cream, frozen puddings, mousses, sherbets, nor many of the gelatine desserts. Hence I have experimented rather widely in the kingdom of fruits. This book is throughout very largely a record of experience I hope it may have the more value through being special rather than universal.

Sandwiches: In sandwich making mind your S’s. That is to say, have your knife sharp, your bread stale, your butter soft. Moreover the bread must be specially made fine grained, firm, not crumbly, nor ragged. Cut off crusts for ordinary sandwiches but if shaping them with cutters let it stay. Then you can cut to the paper-thinness requisite otherwise that is impossible. Work at a roomy table spread with a clean old tablecloth over which put sheets of clean, thick paper. Do your cutting on the papered surface thus you save either turning your knife edges against a platter or sorely gashing even an old cloth. Keep fancy cutters all together and ready to your hand. Shape one kind of sandwiches all the same thus you distinguish them easily. Make as many as your paper space will hold, before stamping out any this saves time and strength. Clear away the fragments from one making, before beginning another sort, thus avoiding possible taints and confusion. Lay your made sandwiches on a platter under a dry cloth with a double damp one on top of it. They will not dry out, and it is much easier than wrapping in oiled paper.

The nearer fillings approach the consistency of soft butter, the better. In making sardine sandwiches, boil the eggs hard, mash the yolks smooth while hot, softening them with either butter or salad dressing French dressing of course. It is best made with lemon juice and very sharp vinegar for such use. Work into the eggs, the sardines freed of skin and bone after draining well, and mashed as fine as possible. A little of their oil may be added if the flavor is liked. But lemon juice is better. Rub the mixture smooth with the back of a stout wooden spoon, and pack close in a bowl so it shall not harden.

Pimento cheese needs to be softened with French dressing, until like creamed butter. The finer the pimento is ground the better. Spread evenly upon the buttered bread, lay other buttered bread upon it, and pile square. When the pile gets high enough, cut through into triangles or finger shapes, and lay under the damp cloth. Slice Swiss cheese very thin with a sharp knife, season lightly with salt and paprika, and lay between the buttered slices. Lettuce dressed with oil and lemon juice and lightly sprinkled with Parmesan cheese makes a refreshing afternoon sandwich. Ham needs to be ground fine it must be boiled well of course seasoned lightly with made mustard, pepper, and lemon juice, softened a bit with clear oil or butter, and spread thin. Tongue must be treated the same way, else boiled very, very tender, skinned before slicing, and sliced paper-thin. Rounds of it inside shaped sandwiches are likely to surprise and please masculine palates.

For the shaped sandwich leaf or star, or heart, or crescent, is the happy home, generally, of all the fifty-seven varieties of fancy sandwich fillings, sweet and sour, mushy and squshy, which make an honest mouthful of natural flavor, a thing of joy. Yet this is not saying novelty in sandwiches is undesirable. Contrariwise it is welcome as summer rain. In witness, here is a filling from the far Philippines, which albeit I have not tried it out yet, sounds to me enticing, and has further the vouching of a cook most excellent. Grate fine as much Edam or pineapple cheese as requisite, season well with paprika, add a few grains of black pepper, wet with sherry to the consistency of cream, and spread between buttered bread. If it is nut bread so much the better. Nut bread is made thus.

Nut Bread for Sandwiches: (Mrs. Petre.) Beat two eggs very light, with a scant teaspoonful salt, half cup sugar, and two cups milk. Sift four cups flour twice with four teaspoonfuls baking powder. Mix with eggs and milk, stir smooth, add one cup nuts finely chopped, let raise for twenty minutes, in a double pan, and bake in a moderately quick oven. Do not try to slice until perfectly cold better wait till next day, keeping the bread where it will not dry out. Slice very thin, after buttering. Makes sandwiches of special excellence with any sort of good filling.

Pickles, Preserves, Coffee, Tea, Chocolate

Brine for Pickling: Use rain water if possible and regular picking salt it is coarse and much stronger than cooking salt. Lacking rain water, soften other water by dissolving in it the day beforehand, a pinch of washing soda this neutralizes largely the mineral contents. Put over the fire in a deep, clean kettle, bring to a boil, put in salt a pint to the gallon of water is the usual proportion. Boil and skim, add a pinch of saltpeter and tablespoonful of sugar for each pint of salt the pinches must not be large. Add also six whole cloves for each gallon. Take from fire, let cool, drop in an egg it should float to show the size of a quarter of a dollar. Otherwise the brine needs more salt. Dissolve a pint extra in as little water as suffices, and add to the brine, then test again. Put the brine when cold into a clean, roomy vessel, a keg or barrel, else a big stone crock. It should not quite half fill it. Provide a heading that will float upon it, also a light weight to keep the heading on the pickles when put in, and hold them under the brine. Unless so held the uppermost rot, and spoil the lot. Mold will gather around the head in spite of the cloves, but less than without them. Whenever you put in fresh pickles, take out the head, wash and scald, dry, and return to place.

Anything edible will make pickle still there are many things better kept out of the brine. Cabbage and cauliflower for example do not need it green tomatoes, onions, and Jerusalem artichokes are likewise taboo. The artichokes make good pickle, but it must be made all at once. Cut anything intended for the brine with a bit of stalk, and without bruising the stalk. Cucumbers should be small, and even in size, gherkins about half grown, string beans, three parts grown, crook-neck squash very small and tender, green peppers for mangoes, full grown but not turning, muskmelons for other mangoes three parts grown. Wash clean or wipe with a damp cloth. Cut pickles in early morning, so they may be fresh and crisp. Never put in any wilted bit thereby you invite decay.

Watermelon rind makes fine pickle, sweet and sour also citron, queen of all home made preserves. It must be fairly thick, sound and unbruised. The Rattle Snake melon has a good rind for such uses. The finer flavored and thinner-rinded varieties that come to market, are rarely worth cutting up. The cutting up is a bit tedious. The rind must be cut in strips rather more than an inch wide and three to five inches long, then trimmed on each side, free of green outer skin, and all trace of the soft inside. There will remain less than half an inch thickness of firm pale green tissue with potentialities of delight if you know how to bring them out.

Firm clingstone peaches not fully ripe, can be put in the brine they had better, however, be pickled without it. For whatever is put in, and saved by salt, must be freed of the salt by long soaking before it is fit to eat. The soaking process is the same for everything take from brine, wash clean in tepid water, put to soak in cold water with something on top to hold the pickles down. Change water twice the first day, afterward every day, until it has not the least salt taste.

You can make pickle by soaking in brine three days, then washing clean, putting over the fire in clear water, bringing to scalding heat, then pouring off the water, covering with vinegar, and bringing just to a boil. Drain away this vinegar, which has served its turn, pack down the pickles in a jar, seasoning them well with mixed spices, whole, not in powder, covering with fresh, hot vinegar, letting cool uncovered, then tieing down, and keep dark and cool.

Watermelon Rind Pickle: Scald the soaked rind in strong ginger tea, let stand two minutes barely simmering, then skim out, lay in another kettle, putting in equal quantities of cloves, mace, alspice, and cinnamon, half as much grated nutmeg, the same of whole pepper corns, several pods of Cayenne pepper, white mustard and celery seed, covering with cider vinegar, the only sort that will keep pickles well, bringing just to the boil, then putting down hot in jars, tying down after cooling, and setting in a dark, cool, airy place.

For sweet pickle, prepare and season, then to each pint of vinegar put one and a half pounds of sugar, boil together one minute, stirring well, and skimming clean, then pour over rind and spices, keep hot for ten minutes without boiling, then put into jars. If wanted only a little sweet, use but half a pound of sugar.

Mangoes: Either green peppers or young melons will serve as a foundation epicures rather preferring the peppers. After making thoroughly fresh, cut out the stems from the peppers, removing and throwing away the seed but saving the stems. Cut a section from the side of each melon, and remove everything inside. Fit back stems, sections, etc., then pack in a kettle in layers with fresh grape leaves between, add a bit of alum as big as the thumb’s end, cover all with strong, cold vinegar, bring to a boil, and simmer gently for twenty minutes. Let stand in vinegar two or three days, throwing away the leaves. Take out, rinse and drain. To stuff four dozen, bruise, soak, cut small and dry, half a pound of race ginger, add half a pint each black and white mustard seed, mace, allspice, Turmeric, black pepper, each half an ounce, beat all together to a rather fine powder, add a dash of garlic, and mix smooth in half a cup of salad oil. Chop very fine a small head of firm but tender cabbage, three fine hearts of celery, half a dozen small pickled cucumbers, half a pint small onions, a large, sweet red pepper, finely shredded, add a teaspoonful sugar, a tablespoonful of brandy, or dry sherry, the mixed spices, work all well together, stuff the mangoes neatly, sew up with soft thread or tie about with very narrow tape, pack down in stone jars, cover with the best cold vinegar, pour a film of salad oil on top, tie down and let stand two months. If wanted sweetish, add moist sugar to the vinegar, a pound to the gallon. Mangoes are for men in the general and men like things hot and sour.

Walnut Pickle: Gather white walnuts in June they must be tender enough to cut with the finger nail. Wash, drain and pack down in jars smothered in salt. Let stand a fortnight, drain off the resultant brine then, scald the nuts in strong vinegar, let stand hot, but not boiling, for twenty minutes, then drain, and pack in jars, putting between the layers, a mixture of cloves, alspice, black and red pepper, in equal quantity, with half as much mace, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Strew in a very little salt, and a little more sugar. Mix mustard and celery seed in a cup of salad oil, and add to the jars, after the nuts are in. Scald strong cider vinegar, skim clean, let cool, pour over the prepared nuts, film with oil on top. Leave open for two days if the vinegar sinks through absorption, fill up the jars. Paste paper over mouths, tie down securely, and set in a cool place until next year. It takes twelve months for pickled walnuts fully to “find themselves.”

Preserving Fruit: Peaches, pears, plums, or cherries, the process is much the same. Use the finest fruit, ripe but not over-ripe. There is no greater waste of strength, time, and sugar, than in preserving tasteless, inferior fruit. Pare peaches and drop instantly in water to save discoloration. Do the same with pears, pit cherries, saving the juice. Wash and prick plums if large if small, merely wash and drain. Halve clear stone peaches but put in a few seeds for the flavor. Leave clingstones on the seed, unless very large, else saw them in three, across the stones. They make less handsome preserves thus sawn but of finer flavor. Weigh, take pound for pound of sugar, with a pound over for the kettle. Very acid fruit, cherries or gooseberries, will require six pounds of sugar to four of fruit. Pack pears and peaches after paring in the sugar over night. Drain off the syrup at morning, put the fruit in the kettle, cover with strained ginger tea, and simmer for ten minutes. Meantime cook the sugar and fruit juice in another kettle. Drop the fruit hot in the boiling syrup, set the kettle in a hot oven, and let it cook there until the preserves are done the fruit clear, and the syrup thick. If it is not rich enough, skim out the fruit, and reduce the syrup by rapid boiling, then pour over the hot fruit in jars.

It is only by cooking thus in ginger tea, or plain water, pear and quince preserves can be made soft. Quinces do not need to stand overnight in sugar rather heat the sugar, and put it in the liquid they have been boiled in, after skimming out the fruit. It should be cooked without sugar till a fork easily pierces it, but not until it begins to rag.

Put cherry juice and sugar over the fire, adding a little water if juice is scant, boil up, stirring well and skimming clean, then put in the fruit, and let it simmer ten minutes, and finish by setting the kettle in the oven till the preserves are rich and thick.

Fancy peach preserves require white, juicy fruit cut up, but not too thin. Let it stand in sugar overnight drain off syrup in morning, boil, skim clean, then drop in fruit a handful at a time, and cook till clear. Skim out, put in more, lay cooked fruit on platters, and set under glass in sun. Sun all day. Next day boil syrup a little more, drop in fruit, heat through, then put all in clear glass jars, and set for ten days in hot sunshine, covered close. The fruit should be a rich translucent pink, the syrup as rich as honey, and a little lighter pink. These are much handsomer than the gingered peaches but not so good. Ginger tea in syrup makes it always darker.

Plums require nothing extra in the way of flavoring. Make a very thick syrup of the sugar and a little water, skim clean, drop in the pricked plums, and cook gently till clear. Skim out, reduce the syrup by further boiling and pour it over the fruit, packed in jars. By oven-cooking after a good boil up, there is so little occasion for stirring, the plums are left almost entirely whole.

Ginger Pears: (Leslie Fox.) Four pounds pears peeled and cut small, four pounds granulated sugar, juice of four lemons, and the grated peel of two, two ounces preserved ginger cut very fine. Cook all together over a slow fire until thick and rich it should make a firm jelly. Put away in glass with brandy paper on top the same as other preserves.

Tutti Frutti: (Mrs. J. R. Oldham.) Begin by getting a big wide-mouthed jar, either thoroughly glazed earthenware, or thick, dark glass. Wash well, fill with hot water, add a half-pound washing soda, and let stand a day. Empty, rinse three times, and wipe dry. Thus you make end to potential molds and microbes. Do this in early spring. Put into the jar, a quart of good brandy and a tablespoonful of mixed spices any your taste approves, also a little finely shredded yellow peel of lemons and oranges. Wash well and hull a quart of fine ripe strawberries, add them with their own weight in sugar to the brandy, let stand till raspberries and cherries are ripe, then put in a quart of each, along with their weight in sugar. Do this with all fruit as it comes in season forced fruit, or that shipped long distances has not enough flavor. Add grapes, halved and seeded, gooseberries, nibbed and washed, blackberries, peaches pared and quartered. Currants are best left out, but by no means slight plums. The big meaty sorts are best. Add as much sugar as fruit, and from time to time more brandy there must be always enough to stand well above the fruit. Add spices also as the jar grows, and if almond flavor is approved, kernels of all the stone fruit, well blanched. Lay on a saucer or small plate, when the jar is full, to hold the fruit well under the liquor. Tie down, and leave standing for three months. Fine for almost any use especially to sauce mild puddings.

Green Tomato Preserves: Take medium size tomatoes, smooth, even, meaty, just on the point of turning but still green. Pare very carefully with a sharp knife. Cut out eyes, taking care not to cut into a seed cavity. Weigh to four pounds fruit take six of sugar. Lay the peeled tomatoes in clear lime water for an hour, take out, rinse, and simmer for ten minutes in strained ginger tea. Make a syrup in another kettle, putting half a cup water to the pound of sugar. Skim clean, put in the tomatoes, add the strained juice of lemons three for a large kettle full, and simmer for two hours, until the fruit is clear. Cut the lemon rind in strips, boil tender in strong salt water, then boil fresh in clear water, and add to the syrup. Simmer all together for another hour, then skim out the fruit, boil the syrup to the thickness of honey, and pour over the tomatoes after putting them in jars. It ought to be very clear, and the tomatoes a pale, clear green. Among the handsomest of all preserves, also the most delicious, once you get the hang of making them. Ripe yellow tomatoes are preserved the same way, except that they are scalded for peeling, and hardened by dropping in alum water after their lime-water bath. The same process applied to watermelon rind after it is freshened makes citron.

Brandy Peaches and Pears: These can be made without cooking. Choose ripe, perfect fruit, pare, stick three cloves in each, weigh, take pound for pound of sugar with one over for the jar. Pack down in a large jar, putting spices between, and filling sugar into every crevice. Crowd in every bit possible, then pour on enough whiskey to stand an inch above the fruit. Let stand in twenty-four hours more whiskey will be needed. Fill up, sprinkle a few more whole cloves on top, also two small pods of Cayenne pepper, and half a dozen pepper corns. Tie down and keep cool. Fit for use in a fortnight, and of fine keeping quality. The same treatment with vinegar in place of whiskey makes very good sweet pickle.

Another way, is to pack the fruit in sugar over night, drain off the juice at morning, boil and skim it, and pour back upon the fruit. Repeat twice the third time put everything in the kettle, cook till a fork will pierce the fruit, then pack in jars, adding spices to taste, and one fourth as much whiskey as there is fruit and syrup. This likewise can be turned into very rich sweet pickle, by using vinegar instead of whiskey, putting it with the syrup at first boiling, sticking cloves in the fruit, and adding spices to taste.

Throw stemmed and washed cherries, unpitted, into thick syrup made of their weight in sugar with half a cup water to the pound. Let boil, set in oven for half an hour, take up, add spices, and either brandy or vinegar, in the proportion of one to three. Let stand uncovered to cool, put in jars, cover with brandy paper, tie down and keep dark and cool.

Tea: Coffee: Chocolate: My tea-making is unorthodox, but people like to drink the brew. Bring fresh water to a bubbling boil in a clean, wide kettle, throw in the tea a tablespoonful to the gallon of water, let boil just one minute, then strain from the leaves into a pot that has stood for five minutes full of freshly boiled water, and that is instantly wrapped about with a thick napkin, so it shall not cool. Serve in tall glasses with rum and lemon, or with sherry syrup, flavored with lemon, add a Maraschino cherry or so, or a tiny bit of ginger-flavored citron. This for the unorthodox. Those who are orthodox can have cream either whipped or plain, with rock candy crystals instead of sugar.

Coffee to be absolutely perfect should never get cold betwixt the beginning of roasting and the end of drinking. Since that is out of the question save to Grand Turks and faddists, mere mortals must make shift with coffee freshly ground, put in a very clean pot, with the least suspicion of salt about six fine grains to the cupful, fresh cold water, in the proportion of three cupfuls to two heaping spoonfuls of ground coffee, then the pot set where it will take twenty minutes to boil, and so carefully watched it can not possibly boil over. Boiling over ruins it makes it flat, bitter, aroma-less. So does long boiling one minute, no more, is the longest boiling time. Quick boiling is as bad the water has not time to extract the real goodness of the coffee. Let stand five minutes to clear, keeping hot. Those who drink coffee half milk may like it stronger a cupful of water to the heaping spoonful of coffee. I do not thus abuse one of the crowning mercies, so make my coffee the strength I like to drink it. Reducing with boiling water spoils the taste for me. So does pouring into another pot my silver pot is used only upon occasions when ceremony must outweigh hospitality. In very cold weather hot water may well warm cups both for tea and coffee. Standing on the grounds does not spoil the flavor of coffee as it does tea.

Coffee from the original pot is quite another affair from the same thing shifted. I am firmly of opinion that many a patent coffee-maker has gone on to success through the fact that cups were filled directly from the urn. I always feel that I taste my coffee mostly with my nose nothing refreshes me like the clean, keen fragrance of it especially after broken rest. It is idle to talk as so many authorities do, of using “Java and Mocha blended.” All the real Java and Mocha in the world is snapped up, long before it filters down to the average level. Back in the Dark Ages of my childhood, I knew experimentally real Java we got it by the sack-full straight from New Orleans and called the Rio coffee used by many of our neighbors “Seed tick coffee,” imagining its flavor was like the smell of those pests. Nowadays, Rio coffee has pretty well the whole world for its parish. Wherefore the best one can do, is to get it sound, well roasted, and as fresh as may be. Much as I love and practice home preparation, I am willing to let the Trust or who will, roast my coffee. Roasting is parlous work, hot, tedious, and tiresome, also mighty apt to result in scorching if not burning. One last caution never meddle with the salt unless sure your hand is light, your memory so trustworthy you will not put it in twice.

Chocolate spells milk, and cream, and trouble, hence I make it only on occasions of high state. Yet I am said to make it well. Perhaps the secret lies in the brandy a scant teaspoonful for each cake of chocolate grated. Put in a bowl after grating, add the brandy, stir about, then add enough hot water to dissolve smoothly, and stir into a quart of rich milk, just brought to a boil. Add six lumps of sugar, stir till dissolved, pour into your pot, which must have held boiling water for five minutes previously, and serve in heated cups, with or without whipped cream on top. There is no taste of the brandy it appears merely to give a smoothness to the blending. If the chocolate is too rich, half-fill cups with boiling water, then pour in the chocolate. There are brands of chocolate which can be made wholly of water they will serve at a pinch, but are not to be named with the real thing. Cocoa I have never made, therefore say nothing about its making. Like Harry Percy’s wife, in cooking at least, I “never tell that which I do not know.”