The preparation of dinner if at or near the middle of the day, and the dish-washing which follows, end the heaviest portion of the day’s work; and the same order must be followed. Only an outline can be given; each family demanding variations in detail, and each head of a family in time building up her own system. Remember, however, that, if but one servant is kept, she can not do every thing, and that your own brain must constantly supplement her deficiencies, until training and long practice have made your methods familiar. Even then she is likely at any moment to leave, and the battle to begin over again; and the only safeguard in time of such disaster is personal knowledge as to simplest methods of doing the work, and inexhaustible patience in training the next applicant, finding comfort in the thought, that, if your own home has lost, that of some one else is by so much the gainer.
FIRES, LIGHTS, AND THINGS TO WORK WITH.
The popular idea of a fire to cook by seems to be, a red-hot top, the cover of every pot and saucepan dancing over the bubbling, heaving contents, and coal packed in even with the covers. Try to convince a servant that the lid need not hop to assure boiling, nor the fire rise above the fire-box, and there is a profound skepticism, which, even if not expressed, finds vent in the same amount of fuel and the same general course of action as before the remonstrance.
The modern stove has brought simplicity of working, and yet the highest point of convenience, nearly to perfection. With full faith that the fuel of the future will be gas, its use is as yet, for many reasons, very limited; the cost of gas in our smaller cities and towns preventing its adoption by any but the wealthy, who are really in least need of it. With the best gas-stoves, a large part of the disagreeable in cooking is done away. No flying ashes, no cinders, no uneven heat, affected by every change of wind, but a steady flame, regulated to any desired point, and, when used, requiring only a turn of the hand to end the operation.
Ranges set in a solid brick-work are considered the best form of cooking-apparatus; but there are some serious objections to their use, the first being the large amount of fuel required, and then the intense heat thrown out. Even with water in the house, they are not a necessity. A water-back, fully as effectual as the range water-back, can be set in any good stove, and connected with a boiler, large or small, according to the size of the stove; and for such stove, if properly managed, only about half the amount of coal will be needed.
Fix thoroughly in your minds the directions for making and keeping a fire; for, by doing so, one of the heaviest expenses in housekeeping can be lessened fully half.