How to Get the Best Results by the Most Modern Method
MANY modern homes are equipped with the latest electric cooking ranges and appliances, and the housewife needs to know something about their management to be able to use them efficiently. Three great advantages will be appreciated. The electric cooking range reduces labour to a minimum, there is less wear on the utensils, and they do not need to be constantly scoured on the outside to remove stains caused by smoke or flame.
The electric oven is enclosed, therefore there is less loss of heat, less evaporation, and the food cooked is of full flavour.
As with any other cooking stove, it is essential to keep all parts of the range scrupulously free from grease and dirt to get the highest possible power from the current.
Because there is no visible flame in an electric stove, the cook when using it for the first time will probably make errors of judgment. She may know that it takes 15 minutes to every lb. To cook a particular joint, but when it comes to baking a cake, she must learn by experience whether the oven is hot enough under the medium current, or too hot if the high switch is used. Instead of trusting to visual judgment, she must depend on the switches to give her the desired heat, and watch results.
The housewife can tell at a glance which switch to turn en for the oven, the grill, the large boiling plate, and so on. Each is plainly marked, and the current controls are also marked High or Full, Medium or Moderate and Low. She need not lose confidence, too, if she takes the trouble to read directions which are always given by the makera when supplying the appliances.
What she must discover for herself is the amount of time and heat required to cook certain foods to perfection, and nothing but constant use and experiment can ever bring her working knowledge up to that of the expert.
The presence of the thermometer will not at first altogether prove a safeguard against mistakes being made. For instance, as mercury takes a little time to rise, if the electric current is not switched off until the desired point is roaohed, the final reading will show the ultimato heat of the oven to be greater than required. Some considerable amount of practice is required to determino when exactly the current should be turned off.
A very hot oven 450° F.
A hot oven 400°-425° F.
A moderate oven 350°-400° F.
A cool or slow oven 275°-325° F.
It will be necessary to adjust the tem-perature figures according to the type of stove being used.
In directions, the following may be met with: Allow 25 mins. To 1 lb. Plus 20 mins. That means that the extra 20 minutes should be allowed for the food to heat through before the cooking process commences. This applies to joints of meat, poultry, etc. Five minutes at High will brown the joint, if necessary, before taking cut.
In cooking pies and cakes, when directions are given to leave the current full for say 5 or 10 minutes, then low, if the cook omits to lower it soon enough and the top is found to be browning too much,
a piece of grease-proof paper placed over the top will prevent it being burnt while the contents continue to cook for the required time.
It is important that the cook should follow the directions for controlling the heat of the stove accurately. For instance: in cooking Large Madeira Cakes – register a temperature of 400° F., switch low for 30 minutes then off for 15 minutes. The cook must understand that the oven will retain sufficient heat to complete the cooking. If the switch is left on for the whole 45 minutes the cake will be overcooked and spoilt.
The cost of using electricity as compared with other methods of cooking is frequently less, because it is now possible in most places to obtain electricity at a specially low rate when used for heating and cooking purposes. But it is economical only if used intelligently.
For example, when there is no other cooking to be done that involves the use of one saucepan, it is not an economical plan to heat the boiling plate, which is large enough to allow several pans to be kept boiling at one time. It is also a waste of current to use the plate for boiling a kettle. There are special electric kettles to use from a separate switch, and the water in these is brought to boiling point by the minimum amount of heat because it is enclosed.
There are also small electric grillers and toasters which require a very small amount of current, and when small quantities are being cooked it would be wasting power to use the large grille! On the stove. It is by the judicious use of these small appliances and by the economical use of the stove that the cook can keep her expenses down. It saves current to cook as much as possible in one day, for in-stance, and the housewife must learn by experience how to make the most of the least amount of current.
It is not enough to know that certain joints of so much weight take so long – she must be guided by instructions which are framed to help the cook get the best results. Where no thermometer is fitted to the stove as an accurate guide, the cook must use her discretion as to the length of time for the oven to heat to the required temperature; generally from 15-20 minutes is enough, but it varies with the stove and the food to be cooked. Because an electric oven is entirely enclosed and there is no flame visible, as in a gas stove, it is difficult to estimate the difference between high, medium and low. It is only by experiment that this can be ascertained.
If a certain quantity of food is cooked one day to perfection, the same conditions of time and heat will ensure a like result on any future occasion, as the heating power of electricity is not variable, as that of a coal fire or even gas. This certainty of the heating power at her disposal is a great asset, and after a little experience the housewifo should be able to work out for herself a fairly accurate cooking time-table and reduce her costs to a minimum. It is a matter of understanding the proper control of the switches, and she will soon acquire confidence in her stove and her judgment.
As to the cost – the average stove, usod regularly, will use up one unit of electricity per person per day for a family of five, at the most. For larger families the cost per head will be slightly less.