Jag hade inga som helst planer på att ägna ännu ett inlägg åt bröd och andra husligheter — men min lördag med Johannes (Gutenberg) fick mig på andra tankar. Där hittade jag “Housekeeping in Old Virgina” från 1878 av Marion Cabell Tyree. Författarinnan fångade min uppmärksamhet genom att i bokens första stycke nämna Fredrika Bremer:
Bread is so vitally important an element in our nourishment that I have assigned to it the first place in my work. Truly, as Frederika Bremer says, "when the bread rises in the oven, the heart of the housewife rises with it," and she might have added that the heart of the housewife sinks in sympathy with the sinking bread.
Se’n var jag fast, hur frestande det än är att citera allt hon skriver, ska jag försöka att lägga band på mig. Men det kommer nog ändå att bli en hel del.
Författaren börjar med att uppmana sina läsare att öva sig på att baka, man ska hålla på ända tills man lyckas. Då kan man nämligen instruera sin kokerska i konsten att baka gott bröd.
Hon talar om vikten av att använda sig av goda råvaror, och lär oss hur vi ska behandla mjölet:
Good flour is an indispensable requisite to good bread. Flour, whether old or 20 new, should always be sunned and aired before being used. In the morning, get out the flour to be made up at night for next morning's breakfast. Sift it in a tray and put it out in the sun, or, if the day is damp, set it near the kitchen fire. Only experience will enable you to be a good judge of flour. One test is to rub the dry flour between your fingers, and if the grains feel round, it is a sign that the flour is good. If after trying a barrel of flour twice, you find it becomes wet and sticky, after being made up of the proper consistency, you had better then return it to your grocer.
Vi får lära oss att degen ska knådas i en halvtimme, utan uppehåll, och att man ska använda en klocka för att ta tid, annars är det lätt gjort att tro att man knådat en halvtimme, när det i själva verket bara gått fem minuter!
Och, för allt i världen, knåda inte brödet en andra gång. Det är ett säkert sätt att förstöra baket!
Tänk också på att inte bara magen ska ha sitt — det är viktigt att brödet är en njutning för ögat:
Do not constantly make bread in the same shapes: each morning, try to have some variation. Plain light bread dough may be made into loaves, rolls, twist, turnovers, light biscuit, etc., and these changes of shape make a pleasant and appetizing variety in the appearance of the table. The addition of three eggs to plain light bread dough will enable you to make French rolls, muffins, or Sally-Lunn of it. As bread is far more appetizing, baked in pretty shapes, I would suggest the snow-ball shape for muffins and egg bread. Very pretty iron shapes (eight or twelve in a group, joined together) may be procured from almost any tinner.
The furnishing of the kitchen is so important that I must here say a few words on the subject. First, the housekeeper must have a good stove or range, and it is well for her to have the dealer at hand when it is put up, to see that it draws well. Besides the utensils furnished with the range or stove, she must provide every kitchen utensil needed in cooking. She must have a kitchen safe,—a bread block in the corner, furnished with a heavy iron beater; trays, sifters (with iron rims) steamers, colanders, a porcelain preserving kettle, perforated skimmers and spoons, ladles, long-handled iron forks and spoons, sharp knives and skewers, graters, egg beaters (the Dover is the best), plenty of extra bread pans, dippers and tins of every kind, iron moulds for egg bread and muffins, wash pans, tea 24 towels, bread towels, and hand towels, plates, knives, forks and spoons for use of the servants, a pepper box, salt box and dredge box (filled), a match safe, and last, but not least, a clock. Try as far as possible to have the utensils of metal, rather than of wood. In cases where you cannot have cold and hot water conveyed into the kitchen, always keep on the stove a kettle of hot water, with a clean rag in it, in which all greasy dishes and kitchen utensils may be washed before being rinsed in the kitchen wash pan. Always keep your cook well supplied with soap, washing mops and coarse linen dish rags. I have noticed that if you hem the latter, servants are not so apt to throw them away. Insist on having each utensil cleaned immediately after being used. Have shelves and proper places to put each article, hooks to hang the spoons on, etc. If you cannot have an oilcloth on your kitchen floor, have it oiled and then it may be easily and quickly wiped over every morning. Once a week, have the kitchen and every article in it thoroughly cleaned. First clean the pipe of the stove, as the dust, soot and ashes fly over the kitchen and soil everything. Then take the stove to pieces, as far as practicable, cleaning each part, especially the bottom, as neglect of this will prevent the bread from baking well at the bottom. After the stove is thoroughly swept out,—oven and all, apply stove polish. I consider "Crumbs of Comfort" the best preparation for this purpose. It comes in small pieces, each one of which is sufficient to clean the stove once, and is thus less apt to be wasted or thrown away by servants than stove polish that comes in a mass. Next remove everything from the kitchen safe and shelves, which must be scoured before replacing the utensils belonging to them, and these too must first be scoured, scalded, and wiped dry. Then wash the windows, and lastly the floor, scouring the latter unless it is oiled, in which case, have it merely wiped over.
Jag hoppas att ni alla odlar humle, så att ni kan göra er egen jäst. Fast jag får erkänna att om det hängde på min humleodling, skulle vi få klara oss utan bröd.
Boil one quart of Irish potatoes in three quarts of water. When done, take out the potatoes, one by one, on a fork, peel and mash them fine, in a tray, with a large iron spoon, leaving the boiling water on the stove during the process. Throw in this water a handful of hops, which must scald, not boil, as it turns the tea very dark to let the hops boil.
Add to the mashed potatoes a heaping teacupful of powdered white sugar and half a teacupful of salt; then slowly stir in the strained hop tea, so that there will be no lumps. When milk-warm add a teacupful of yeast and pour into glass fruit jars, or large, clear glass bottles, to ferment, being careful not to close them tightly. Set in a warm place in winter, a cool one in summer. In six hours it will be ready for use, and at the end of that time the jar or bottle must be securely closed. Keep in a cold room in winter, and in the refrigerator in summer. This yeast will keep two weeks in winter and one week in summer. Bread made from it is always sweet.—Mrs. S. T.