This section is from the book "Camping And Woodcraft", by Horace Kephart. Also available from Amazon: Camping and Woodcraft.
Do not wash them until just before they are to be cooked or eaten. They lose flavor quickly after being washed. This is true even of potatoes.
Fresh vegetables go into plenty of fast-boiling salted water. Salt prevents their absorbing too much water. The water should be boiling fast, and there should be plenty of it. They should be boiled rapidly, with the lid left off the pan. If the water is as hot as it should be, the effect is similar to that which we have noted in the case jf meats: the surface is coagulated into a waterproof envelope which seals up the flavor instead of letting it be soaked out. In making soup, the rule is reversed.
Beans and peas are to be cooked in unsalted water. If salted too soon they become leathery and difficult to cook. Put them in cold, fresh water, gradually heat to the boiling point, and boil slowly.
When time permits they should first be soaked in cold water, according to directions on package; this makes them more tender. The onions and soup vegetables, however, can be boiled without previous soaking. Heat gradually to the boiling point and cook slowly in a covered vessel until done. When served alone they require butter for seasoning.
The liquor of canned peas, string beans, etc., is unfit for use and should be 363 thrown away; this does not apply to tomatoes.
To clear cabbage, etc., from insects, immerse them, stalk upward, in plenty of cold water salted in the proportion of a large tablespoonful to two quarts. Vinegar may be used instead of salt. Shake occasionally. The insects will sink to bottom of pan.
To keep vegetables, put them in a cool, dry place (conditions similar to those of a good cellar). Keep each kind away from the other, or they will absorb each other's flavor.
Pick them out as nearly as possible of one size, or some will boil to pieces before the others are done; if necessary, cut them to one size. Remove eyes and specks, and pare as thinly as possible, for the best of the potato lies just under the skin. As fast as pared, throw into cold water, and leave until wanted. Put in furiously boiling salted w^ater, then hang kettle a little higher where it will boil moderately, but do not let it check. Test with a fork or sliver. When the tubers are done (about twenty minutes for new potatoes, thirty to forty minutes for old ones) drain off all the water, dust some salt over the potatoes (it absorbs the surface moisture, and keeps leftovers from souring early), and let the pot stand uncovered close to the fire, shaking it gently once or twice, till the surface of each potato is dry and powdery. Never leave potatoes in the water after they are done; they become watery.
After washing thoroughly, and gouging out the eyes, snip off a bit from each end of the potato; this gives a vent to the steam and keeps potatoes from bursting open. I prefer to put them in cold water and bring it gradually to a boil, because the skin of the potatoi contains an acid poison which is thus extracted. The water in which potatoes have been boiled will poison a dog. Of course we don't " eat 'em skin and all." like the people in the nursery rhyme; but there is no use in driving the bitterness into a potato. Boil gently, but continuously, throw in a little salt now and then, drain, and dry before the hre.
Old potatoes are better steamed. A rough-and-ready method is shown on page 30.
After boiling, mash the potatoes with a peeled stub of sapling, or a bottle, and work into them some butter, if you have it, and milk. " The more you beat 'em, the better they be." Salt and pepper.
Mould some mashed potato into cakes, season, and fry in deep fat. Or add egg and bake them brown.
"Nessmuk's" description cannot be improved: "Scoop out a basin-like depression under the fore-stick, three or four inches deep, and large enough to hold the tubers when laid side by side; fill it with bright hardwood coals and keep up a strong heat for half an hour or more. Next, clean out the hollow, place the potatoes in it, and cover them with hot sand or ashes, topped with a heap of glowing coals, and keep up all the heat you like. In about forty minutes commence to try them with a sharpened hardwood sliver; when this will pass through them they are done and should be raked out at once. Run the- sliver through them from end to end, to let the steam escape, and use immediately, as a roast potato quickly becomes soggy and bitter".
Boiled or steamed potatoes that have been left over may be sliced one-quarter inch thick, and fried.
Peel, and slice into pieces half an inch thick. Drop into cold water until frying-pan is ready. Put enough grease in pan to completely immerse the potatoes, and get it very hot, as directed under Frying. Pour water off potatoes, dry a slice in a clean cloth, drop it into the sizzling fat. and so on one slice at a time.
Drying the slices avoids a splutter in the pan and helps to keep from absorbing grease. If many slices were dropped into the pan together, the heat would be checked and the potatoes would get soggy with grease. When the slices begin to turn a faint brown, salt the potatoes, pour oft the grease at once, and brown a little in the dry pan. The outside of each slice will then be crisp and the insides white and deliciously mealy.
Fry one or more sliced onions until they are turning yellowish, then add sliced or diced potatoes, previously boiled; keep tossing now and then until the potatoes are fried somewhat yellow; salt and pepper to taste; you may add chopped or dehydrated parsley. Drain and serve.