French Endive or Witloof Chicory
A Wholesome and Useful Winter Vegetable
How to Grow. Sow the seed in Spring on well prepared land 1 ft. apart in rows, and thin out same as parsnips. Lift the roots in fall. These roots produce during winter months, the beautiful young crisp leaves, which make one of the most delicious winter salads. Here’s how it’s done.
Forcing the Roots. Prepare a convenient sized bed of good rich soil about a foot deep, in the basement and board up the sides. Place the roots in it until the crowns are just covered, and about 2 inches apart, in rows 6 to 8 inches apart then place on top about 8 inches of any kind of light covering such as leaf mold or other light compost. This must be light or otherwise the heads which will grow from the crown will open out instead of keeping firmly closed and conically shaped. On the top of the light soil, manure (if it can be procured fresh, all the better) should be placed to a thickness of about 12 inches, or even more. This will cause the soil to warm slightly and hasten the making of the head. Horse manure is better than cattle manure for the purpose. The heads will be ready to cut in from 4 to 6 weeks. By putting in a batch at 10 day intervals, a succession of cuttings may be made from the bed. Store the roots in dry sand until they are to be put in the bed.
Roots may also be forced in a Greenhouse or Conservatory by planting under the benches or in a specially prepared place, but not too high a temperature; say anywhere from 55 to 60 degrees F. To give more is running the risk of getting spindly, weak heads. They may also be grown in pots of say 12 inch drain. Place from five to six roots in a pot, leaving the crown of the root exposed and place another pot inverted closely over it, covering up the top hole, so as to keep the roots as dark as possible. Water about once a day and in a temperature of from 55 to 65 degrees. It will take about one month, or even less before the heads may be cut. After cutting they must be kept dark, else they turn green quickly. The roots after being forced, indoors or outdoors, become useless.
Use. The leaves can be used in every way that lettuce can, and are delicious either alone, or in combination salads. It is beautifully crisp, tender and has a delightful appetizing flavor of its own. Large quantities are imported into this country from Europe every year and it is found on the bill of fare of all First Class Restaurants during the winter months.
Grown at home (and so easily grown at that) and served fresh and crisp from the bed, its true qualities are doubly appreciated.
Whether food is palatable or not largely depends upon its seasoning. Good, rich material may be stale and unprofitable because of its lack, while with it simple, inexpensive foods become delicious and take on the appearance of luxuries. A garden of herbs with its varying flavors is a full storehouse for the housekeeper, it gives great variety to a few materials and without much expense of money, time or space as any little waste corner of the garden or even a window box, will afford a fine supply. Besides use as flowers the young sprouts of most of the herbs are available as greens or salads, and are excellent with any plain salad dressing; among them might be mentioned mustard, cress, chervil, parsley, mint, purslane, chives, sorrel, dandelions, nasturtiums, tarragon and fennel. Many of these herbs are ornamental and make beautiful garnishes, or are medicinal and add to the home pharmacy. Though not equally good as the fresh herbs, yet dried ones hold their flavors and do excellent service. Just before flowering they should be gathered on a sunshiny day and dried by artificial heat, as less flavor escapes in quick drying. When dry, powder them and put up in tin cans, or glass bottles, tightly sealed and properly labeled. Parsley, mint and tarragon should be dried in June or July, thyme, marjoram and savory in July and August, basil and sage in August and September.
Anise.—Anise leaves are used for garnishing, and the seeds for seasoning, also are used medicinally.
Balm.—Balm leaves and stems are used medicinally and make a beverage called Balm Wine. A variety of cat-mint called Moldavian balm is used in Germany for flavoring food.
Basil.—Sweet basil an aromatic herb is classed among the sweet herbs. It is used as seasoning in soups, sauces, salads and in fish dressings. Basil vinegar takes the place in winter of the fresh herb.
Basil Vinegar.—In August or September gather the fresh basil leaves. Clean them thoroughly, put them in a wide mouthed bottle and cover with cider vinegar, or wine for fourteen days. If extra strength is wanted draw off the vinegar after a week or ten days and pour over fresh leaves; strain after fourteen days and bottle tightly.
Borage.—Its pretty blue flowers are used for garnishing salads. The young leaves and tender tops are pickled in vinegar and are occasionally boiled for the table. Its leaves are mucilaginous and are said to impart a coolness to beverages in which they are steeped. Borage, wine, water, lemon and sugar make an English drink called Cool Tankard.
Caraway.—Caraway seeds are used in cakes, breads, meats, pastry and candies and are very nice on mutton or lamb when roasting. Caraway and dill are a great addition to bean soup. The root though strong flavored is sometimes used like parsnips and carrots.
Catnip or Catmint.—Its leaves are used medicinally and its young leaves and shoots are used for seasoning.
Chives.—The young leaves of chives are used for seasoning, they are like the onion but more delicate, and are used to flavor sauces, salads, dressings and soups. They are chopped very fine when added to salads—sometimes the salad bowl is only rubbed with them. Chopped very fine and sprinkled over Dutch cheese they make a very acceptable side dish or sandwich filling.
Coriander.—Coriander seed is used in breads, cakes and candies.
Dill.—The leaves are used in pickles, sauces and gravies, and the seeds, in soups, curries and medicines.
Fennel.—The leaves of the common fennel have somewhat the taste of cucumber, though they are sweet and have a more delicate odor. They are boiled and served chiefly with mackerel and salmon though sometimes with other fish, or enter into the compound of their sauces. The young sprouts from the roots of sweet fennel when blanched are a very agreeable salad and condiment. The seed is medicinal.
Henbane.—Henbane is poisonous and is only used medicinally.
Hops.—The young shoots of hops are used as vegetables in the early spring, prepared in the same way as asparagus and salsify. The leaves are narcotic and are therefore often made up into pillows.
Horehound.—The leaves are used for seasoning and are a popular remedy for a cough. It is much used in flavoring candies.
Hyssop.—The young leaves and shoots are used for flavoring food, but their principal use is medicinal. A syrup made from it is a popular remedy for a cold.
Lavender.—The leaves are used for seasoning, but the chief use of the plant is the distillation of perfumery from its flowers which are full of a sweet odor.
Marjoram Sweet.—Sweet marjoram belongs to the sweet herbs, the leaves and ends of the shoots are used for seasoning, and are also used medicinally.
Pennyroyal.—The leaves are used for seasoning puddings and other dishes, and also have a medicinal use.
Pot Marigold.—Marigold has a bitter taste, but was formerly much used in seasoning soups and is still in some parts of England. The flowers are dried and are used medicinally and for coloring butter and cheese.
Pimpinella, or Salad-Burnet.—The young tender leaves are used as a salad; they have a flavor resembling that of cucumbers.
Rosemary.—A distillation of the leaves makes a pleasant perfume and is also used medicinally. It is one of the sweet herbs for seasoning.
Rue.—This is one of the bitter herbs yet is sometimes used for seasoning.
Sage.—The leaves both fresh and dried are used for seasoning, meats and dressings especially.
Summer Savory.—Summer savory is used for flavoring, and especially for flavoring beans.
Tarragon or Esdragon.—Esdragon with its fine aromatic flavor is a valuable adjunct to salads and sauces.
Tarragon or Esdragon Vinegar.—Strip the leaves from the fresh cut stalks of tarragon. Put a cupful of them in a wide mouthed bottle and cover with a quart of cider or wine vinegar, after fourteen days, strain, bottle and cork tightly.
Tagetis Lucida.—Its leaves have almost the exact flavor of tarragon and can be used as its substitute.
Thyme.—Thyme is one of the sweet herbs and its leaves are favorites for seasoning in cooking.
Winter Savory.—The leaves and young shoots, like summer savory are used for flavoring foods.
Wormwood.—Wormwood is used medicinally as its name implies.
A FLOWER SALAD.
The most beautiful salad ever imagined is rarely seen upon our tables, although the principal material for its concoction may be grown in the tiniest yard. Any one who has tried growing nasturtiums must admit that they almost take care of themselves, and if the ground is enriched but a little their growth and yield of blossom is astonishingly abundant. It is these same beautiful blossoms that are used in salad, and, as if nature had surmised that their beauty should serve the very practical end of supplying the salad bowl, the more one plucks these growing flowers, the greater number will a small plant yield. The pleasant, pungent flavor of these blossoms would recommend them, aside from their beauty, and when they are shaken out of ice-cold water with some bits of heart lettuce, they, too, become crisp in their way. One of the prettiest ways of arranging a nasturtium salad is to partly fill the bowl with the center of a head of lettuce pulled apart and the blossoms plentifully scattered throughout. Prof. Blot, that prince of saladmakers, recommends the use of the blossoms and petals (not the leaves) of roses, pinks, sage, lady’s slipper, marshmallow and periwinkle, as well as the nasturtium, for decorating the ordinary lettuce salad, and reminds his readers that roses and pinks may be had at all seasons of the year. In summer the lovely pink marshmallow is to be found wild in the country places near salt water; so abundant are these flowers in the marshes (hence the name) and so large are the petals that there need be no fear of robbing the flower vases to fill the salad bowl. These salads should be dressed at the table by the mistress, as, of course, a little wilting is sure to follow if the seasoning has been applied for any length of time. A French dressing is the best, although a mayonnaise may be used if preferred. Opinions differ greatly as regards the proportions of the former, but to quote Blot again, the proper ones are two of oil to one of vinegar, pepper and salt to taste. If the eye is not trained to measure pepper and salt and the hostess is timid about dressing a salad, let her have measured in a pretty cut-glass sprinkler a teaspoon of salt and half of pepper mixed, for every two of oil. For a small salad the two of oil and one of vinegar will be sufficient; measure the saltspoon even full of oil, sprinkle this over the salad, then half the salt and pepper; toss all lightly with the spoon and fork, then add the other spoonful of oil, the vinegar and the remainder of the salt and pepper; toss well and serve. How simple, and yet there are women who never have done the graceful thing of dressing lettuce at the table.
Potatoes and tomatoes in alternate layers may take the place of lettuce. Just before serving toss all together.
Make a filling of two-thirds nasturtium blossoms, one third leaves, lay on buttered bread, with buttered bread on top, sandwich style.
PRESERVED ROSE LEAVES.
Put a layer of rose leaves in a jar and sprinkle sugar over them, add layers sprinkled with sugar as the leaves are gathered until the jar is full. They will turn dark brown and will keep for two or three years. Used in small quantities they add a delightful flavor to fruit cake and mince pies.
In making sachet powders one general direction must be borne in mind—each ingredient must be powdered before mixing. Potpourri should be made before the season of outdoor flowers passes. Pluck the most fragrant flowers in your garden, passing by all withered blossoms. Pick the flowers apart, placing the petals on plates and setting them where the sun can shine upon them. Let the petals thus continue to dry in the sun for several days. Each flower may be made into potpourri by itself, or the different flowers may be mixed in any variety and proportion that pleases the maker. Flowers which have little or no scent should be left out. When the leaves are well dried sprinkle them with table salt. Do not omit this, as it is important. The right proportion is about two ounces of the salt to each pound of leaves. If also two ounces of powdered orris root is added and well mixed in with the dried petals the fragrance and permanence are improved. Now the potpourri is ready to put in the jars that are sold for that purpose.
H. J. Hancock.
Crush three pounds of violets to a pulp; in the meantime boil four pounds of sugar, take out some, blow through it, and if little flakes of sugar fly from it, it is done. Add the flowers, stir them together; add two pounds of apple marmalade, and when it has boiled up a few times, put the marmalade into jars.
The Cook’s Own Book.
GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE.
Bruise half a dozen cloves of garlic, rub them through a fine sieve with a wooden spoon; mix this pulp with butter and beat thoroughly, put in a wide mouthed bottle and keep for further use.
LEAVES FOR CULINARY PURPOSES.
In addition to sweet and bitter herbs, we have many leaves available for seasoning. The best known and most used are bay leaves, a leaf or two in custards, rice, puddings and soups adds a delicate flavor and aroma. A laurel leaf answers the same purpose. Bitter almond flavoring has a substitute in fresh peach leaves which have a smell and taste of bitter almond. Brew the leaves, fresh or dry, and use a teaspoonful or two of the liquid. Use all these leaves stintedly as they are strongly aromatic, and it is easy to get too much. The flowering currant gives a flavor that is a compound of the red and black currant; gooseberry leaves in the bottled fruit emphasize the flavor, and it is said keep the fruit greener. A fresh geranium or lemon verbena leaf gives a delightful odor and taste to jelly. A geranium leaf or two in the bottom of a cake dish while the cake is baking will flavor the cake. Nasturtium leaves and flowers find a place in sandwiches and salads. The common syringa has an exact cucumber flavor and can be a substitute for cucumber in salads or wherever that flavor is desired. Lemon and orange leaves answer for the juice of their fruits. Horseradish and grape leaves have use in pickles. Carrot, cucumber and celery leaves give the respective flavors of their vegetables. Tender celery leaves can be thoroughly dried and bottled for winter use. The use of leaves is an economy for a household, and a source of great variety.
The flowers are used to garnish salads, the young leaves and flowers make a lovely salad The young buds and leaves when tender are made into pickles and are used like capers in sauces, salads and pickles.
Gather the seeds as soon as the blossoms fall, throw them into cold salt water for two days, at the end of that time cover them with cold vinegar, and when all the seed is gathered and so prepared, turn over them fresh boiling hot vinegar plain or spiced with cloves, cinnamon, mace, pepper, broken nutmeg, bay leaves and horseradish. Cork tightly.