Vegetables may be divided into two great classes: —
1. The coarse or fibrous vegetables, comprising the roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, and leaves.
Vegetables, like all starchy foods, should be put to cook in boiling water, the object being to soften the cellulose as well as to swell and burst the starch grains. While there is scarcely any other food more universally used by rich and poor alike in making up a part of their daily bill of fare, yet how often the vegetable is spoiled in cooking. Vegetables should always be cooked thoroughly done. Served in the half cooked condition so often met with, they are unpalatable and indigestible; while on the other hand coarse vegetables should be cooked in plenty of boiling water, and should be removed from the fire when done. Longer cooking makes them insipid in taste, and with too little water in cooking they turn a dark color. Salt should be added the last half hour of the cooking to give flavor. Green vegetables, as peas and string beans, when young and tender, should be cooked in just enough water to cook them well done and preserve their flavor. To retain the green color in the new vegetables, the cover must be left off while cooking and they should cook steadily after they are put on and not be allowed to stop cooking or simmering until they are done. Young tender vegetables, as lettuce, tomatoes, watercress, etc., served in the uncooked state, are valuable for the water and potash salts they contain, also for the stimulating effect they have on the appetite.
Shell the peas as soon after picking them as possible, drop into cold water, and skim off any dry leaves or imperfect ones that will come to the top; then dip them out of the water with the hands so as to leave any grit there may be in them on the bottom of the dish; drop them into boiling water enough to cover them if tender, add salt and let them cook until well done and the liquid reduced to one-third its original quantity. If desired, they may be thickened slightly with flour braided smooth in cold water, and a little cream added just before serving.
Put them into a deep pan of water and wash well, that sand and grit may sink to the bottom; change the water and lift them out, tie them in bundles of about three portions each; lay on a board and trim off the root stems, leaving the stalks about four inches in length; drop them into boiling salted water and cook till they are tender, then set the sauce pan on the table until ready to serve; lift out and drain, lay on platter, cut and remove the strings, and send to the table. Serve with rich cream sauce.
Cut the tender part of cooked new asparagus into one inch lengths; cook the peas separately, and when done add enough rich cream to season them well; when it comes to a boil, thicken slightly with a little flour braided smooth in cold milk or water; add the asparagus tips and shake together to mix well and not break them up.