The Art of Canning Vegetables

This is the first article in June of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on June 2, 1907, and is the second of two talk on the art of canning fruits and vegetables.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the Boston Sunday Post.

The Art of Canning Vegetables

USE glass jars always. Apart from the danger that the acid of the vegetables will make a poisonous combination with the metal can, the amateur who undertakes to solder the top to make it air-tight is likely to do the work unskillfully. Moreover, should the fruit ferment, the housewife cannot detect the beginning of the mischief, and check it by cooking the contents of the can a second time.

You cannot be too careful in preparing jars, tops and rubbers to do their part in the delicate process. It is never safe to use last year’s rubber bands for this season’s canning. They are cheap, but were they three times as expensive, the loss of two cans of fruit would be more than the price you would pay for the assurance that makes success doubly sure.

Sterilize jars, tops and bands by laying the first two in boiling water and not taking them out until you wish to fill the jars and clamp down the covers. Dip the rings into the boiling water just before they are fitted into place. Neglect of preliminary sterilizing ruins many a fine batch of “canned goods.”

To Can Tomatoes.

Select ripe tomatoes. The hard, whitish-green portions interfere with the good looks and the general integrity of the rest of the tomatoes. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes; cover the pan in which they are, to keep in the heat, and leave thus for five or, six minutes. Then strip off the skins and cut out defective or unripe parts.

When all are ready, set over a quick fire. Long and slow boiling injures color and flavor. Cover the kettle, that the boil may begin sooner than if the air were freely admitted. Boil for one minute, lift the kettle from the fire and rub the tomatoes through sterilized colander into a scalded bowl. This done, return to the kettle, and cook fast for ten minutes after the boil begins again.

The cans should be put now into fresh boiling water, and the pan containing them set on a table or chair near enough to the range to enable you to transfer the contents of the kettle directly to the cans, and while the pot is still bubbling. Dip out each ladleful from the kettle, and pour into the can which has been emptied that instant by an assistant. The jar must be filled to overflowing, the rubber being already in place. The cover is clapped on without the delay of a second and screwed down tightly. Now wash and wipe the jar, and set where the light will not strike it. When perfectly cold, wrapping paper and set away in a cool place.

Light is a serious disadvantage to canned fruits and vegetables. The forgoing directions apply to all kinds of canning, so far as the sterilization of the jars and rubbers, the actual boiling point at which the kettle must stand while the contents are transferred to the jars, the rapidity with which this is done, the scaling, cooling and the wrapping of the filled jars are concerned.

To Can Tomatoes Whole.

Scald and strip as directed in last recipe. As you peel the tomatoes, lay them in a colander to drain off superfluous juice. Have ready a kettle of really boiling water. When the tomatoes are all skinned, put them into the boiling water and leave them eight minutes, or until the boil begins again. Take out a few at a time—just enough to fill one jar; fill this up with boiling water from the kettle, seal, set aside and go on with the second jar. Proceed thus until all the tomatoes are used up.

Select the finest and firmest tomatoes for this purpose. Break them as little as possible, dipping them out with a wooden spoon.

To Can Tomatoes for Stuffing.

Peel and stew tomatoes of ordinary size, and strain through double cheese-cloth without pressing. Set the liquor aside to be used as I shall presently indicate.

Choose large, smooth tomatoes of uniform size. Do not take off the skins, but with as small,, keen-bladed knife extract the cores neatly. Arrange them in large baking pans; cover them entirely with cold water; cover the pans and leave them in the oven until the water begins to boil. Meanwhile, bring the reserved juice of the stewed tomatoes to a fast boil, and have the saucepan containing it close at hand and still boiling. Put the whole tomatoes with care into large-mouthed quart jars, fill these to overflowing with the hot juice and seal at once.

Tomatoes thus prepared may be stuffed and baked in the winter, and can hardly be distinguished from fresh.

One housewife assures me that she has used them as salad, filling them with celery or with shrimps and disposing upon lettuce leaves, then covering with mayonnaise dressing, and that they are almost equal to raw fruit. I do not vouch for the truth of her story. Tastes differ as to degrees of excellence. I do know that my stuffed tomatoes—warmed to the heart—are good.

To Can Asparagus.

Put the stalks to within two inches of the tips. There rest of the stem is wood. It will not be eaten, and takes up room in the jar that might be occupied to more advantage. Lay the asparagus, thus abbreviated, evenly and close together in a boiler and cover with cold water slightly salted. Put the cover on the boiler and set over the fire. Bring to a slow boil, and keep it up ten minutes, never letting the bubble become violent. Remove the asparagus gently with a wooden ladle; put into the jars, the tops in orderly array, uppermost; fill with boiling salt water and seal.

To Can Spinach.

Pick over the spinach when you have washed it and strip the leaves from the main stems without bruising them. Cover with cold water and leave this to freshen and crisp them. In an hour’s time transfer the leaves, dripping wet, to a granite or porcelain pot, adding no water except that which drips from the spinach. Set this pot or jar in a larger vessel of cold water. Cover the inner vessel closely to keep in the steam and set both over the fire. When the water in the outer pot begins to boil, open the inner and stir the contents gently with your wooden ladle to make sure that they are heated to the center. Cover again and let the boil go on for half an hour more. There should be enough liquid from the succulent leaves to cover the spinach when packed into the jars. Seal immediately.

To Can Beets.

Small beets are the best for canning. Wash as for present use, and leave an inch of stalk at top to prevent bleeding. Boil in slightly salted water; peel as for the table. Have ready in a neighboring saucepan enough cider vinegar to cover the beets. You must use your own judgment as to quantity. To each quart of vinegar add two tablespoonfuls of sugar, a teaspoonful of strained onion juice and a teaspoonful each of pepper and salt. Bring the vinegar to the boil. Pack the beets while hot into heated cans can cover with the vinegar from the boiling saucepan.

To Can String Beans.

The beans must be young, and newly gathered. If toughened by long keeping, or if old and stringy, they are not available for our purpose. With a sharp knife remove the strings from both sides of the beans. As you do this let the prepared beans fall into ice-cold water. Now, cut them into inch-lengths, still dropping the bits into water. Put over the fire covered with cold water, slightly salted and peppered. Boil until soft, but not broken. Transfer to heated jars, cover with boiling salted water from the kettle and seal.


Can as you would string beans. It is absolutely essential that pods be young and tender.

Stale vegetables are unfit for canning.

A paper upon canning fruit will Appear during the summer. To give it before the height of the ripening time is upon us would be premature.

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A Revival of the Art of Preserving

This is the final article in May of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on May 26, 1907, and is the first of two talk on the art of canning fruits and vegetables.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the Boston Sunday Post.

A Revival of the Art of Preserving

IF THE agitation and alarm excited by “food scandals” with the details of which the newspapers have reeked lately have no other permanent result, they have revived the custom of domestic preserving in thousand of households.

Canning is hardly fifty years old. It made its way but slowly for time. We paid fifty cents apiece for cans of fresh tomatoes, and $1 for a quart of canned peaches. Then factories of “canned goods” started up like mushrooms after a summer shower all over the country; prices came down on the run under the weight of competition, old-fashioned preserves went out of favor. They were expensive; they took time and thought that might better be bestowed upon worthier objects, and they were less wholesome than fresh, ripe fruits which retained, when canned, the flavor of the “real thing.” Here and there a housewife who learned her trade in the late forties and early fifties was stubborn in the belief that preserves, properly made, hurt nobody, and that the canned fruits were insipid caricatures of the ripe originals.

By degrees thoughtful women with more advanced ideas upon most subjects have swung around to her standpoint. with regard to conserves of fruit. We have learned that much sugar and long cooking prevent the generation of mischievous germs, and that where there is a modicum of sugar, and that little, when combined with acid fruits, is not cooked long, other agencies must be called in to secure sterilization. Hence—by a natural process of reasoning—the lavish use of “chemicals” in canning factories. This admitted, much become clear to the housemotherly perceptions that had puzzled her heretofore. We knew that canned fruits needed the addition of sugar and cream to make them presentable to our palates as desserts. We were aware, even after they were thus qualified and dressed for the table of a slightly bitter flavor in the “chemical blondes” and a certain roughness left upon the tongue.

Thanks to scientific sleuths we know now the full (and the fell) meaning of these peculiar features of the cheap and convenient substitutes for our grandmothers’ preserves, and we have resolved—thousands of us—to do our canning and other kinds of preserving fruits and vegetables. The health of our children is of more value than our time—precious as that may be.

In the practical directions for putting up fruits which will follow will be found some for canning. During the winter, which is now, we fondly hope, “over and gone,” at last, have had so much solid comfort in the store of fruits put up last summer under my own eyes that I am in good heart for the recommendation to fellow-housewives to do likewise. The “canned things” of unrighteous commerce have long been proscribed from our bills of fare. Home-made jellies, marmalades, and preserves are more delicious and indubitably more wholesome.

The “system” of which we spoke last week is eminently desirable in this branch of cookery. Have everything that will be required in the work laid to your hand before you begin.

In dutiful and affectionate imitation of my own grandmother’s and my mother’s methods, I do the bulk of my preserving in the early morning. Every utensil is set in order on kitchen table; if jellying be the business in hand, the fruit, preserved last night, was put into a covered crock and set in a pot of hot water at bedtime, the fire being kept low all night. By the time I (and the sun) am ready for work, the currants, quinces, or crab apples are cooked soft in their own juice and ready for straining. By 9 o’clock the jelly is in glasses, and the cooking utensils washed. Preserving at high noon is what our English sisters call “beastly work.”

Preserved Strawberries.

Choose fine, firm berries for preserving. The smaller and less sweet may be made into marmalade. It is well, on this account, to make marmalade on the same day. Cap the berries, handling lightly, not to bruise them. Allow a of fruit to one of sugar. Use the best grade of sugar in preserving.

Wash and drain the berries, not shaking the colander, yet letting all the water drip that will come away. Put a layer of fruit into the kettle; cover thickly with sugar, and fill the kettle in this order. Cover and set at the side of the range, where it will heat slowly for the first hour. Quicken the boil and cook steadily half an hour. Take out the berries, a few at a time, not to crush them, with a broad, perforated skimmer. Spread upon large platters and set in the sun you boil the syrup left in the kettle fast and hard. It should be quite thick in half an hour unless the berries were too watery. Return the berries to the syrup, and let all boil up once. Fill small glass jars with the hot preserves. Have them full, as the contents will shrink in cooling. Seal while hot.

Preserved Raspberries.

The large yellow and red varieties are best for preserving, although the smaller kinds and wild “black caps” make good marmalade. Cook exactly as directed in the recipe for preserving strawberries.

German Preserved Strawberries.

By this name are known to sellers and buyers the singularly delicious strawberries put up in narrow, tall jars.

Prepare the berries as for preserving in the usual way, and put them with an equal number of pounds of sugar in the kettle. Bring to a gentle boil, keep this up for one minute, and transfer the fruit with a broad, perforated skimmer to several large platters. Cover with panes of glass and set in the full heat of the sun. Leave them there all day; take in sunset and put out again on the morrow. Meanwhile, boil down the syrup until rich and clear, set away and on the third day put it back on the fire. When hot add thee berries, boil for five minutes and seal in small jars.

Berry Marmalade.

For each pound of capped and weighted berries allow three-quarters of a pound of white sugar. Put the berries into the kettle and to a steady boil. Keep up for half an hour, then dip out all the juice that will come away without squeezing the fruit and add the sugar to the berries left in the kettle. Do not be afraid of getting the marmalade too dry. The sugar will make syrup enough. Cook for half an hour after the contents of the kettle begin to boil again and turn, boiling hot, into tumblers or jars, sealing at once.

Make jelly of the surplus juice you have dipped out.

Both manufactures may be carried on at the same time.

Preserved Cherries.

Get large tart cherries. Extract the stones, saving the juice that escapes in the operation. Put the sugar into the kettle with the juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Then add the fruit, cook for half an hour, take the cherries out with a skimmer and spread on broad platters in the sun. Boil the juice thick, skimming as the scum rises. In an hour’s time return the cherries to the syrup, cook slowly for fifteen minutes after the boll begins, anew, and turn hot into jars.

Orange Marmalade.

Take the skin from twelves large oranges. Before the skins have time to harden into dryness, remove the thick white lining and shred the outer yellow peel with sharp scissors into thin strips an inch long. Leave these in cold while you slice the pulp of the fruit thin, removing the tougher membrane and all seed. While you are about the work an assistant should prepare two large grape fruit and one lemon in like manner. Leave the skins in water—which must be very cold—until the prepared pulp is ready. Put pulp and peel together, draining the peel free of water, and set in a cold place all night.

In the morning measure the juice, straining the pulp through a colander, and mix with the liquid a pound of sugar for every pint. Return the juice to skins and pulp. Put them over the fire and bring to a slow boil. Simmer quietly until the peel is clear and tender. Then add the sugar and cook steadily for forty-five minutes longer. The peel should be translucent and the marmalade a clear golden jelly.

This is a truly exquisite conserve if properly made. Not even the famous Dundee marmalades surpasses it.

Marion Harland

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Economizing Time, Money and Strength in Housekeeping

This is the third article in May of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on May 18, 1907, and is an interesting discussion on how to economize time in housework.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the Boston Sunday Post.

Economizing Time, Money and Strength in Housekeeping

“SYSTEM is not a talent!”

I penned the words a quarter of a century ago. Today I turn back to them and the talk built upon them with a heart saddened as by a personal grief. I can begin this paper with nothing better suited to the case of four-fifths of the housewives who are my present audience. Listen! and judge for yourself if this be not true:

“The notable housewife who would be ashamed to admit that she does not look narrowly after paper and twine, bits of cold meat and scraps of butter—who does not calculate wisely concerning coal, candle-ends and crusts—confesses, without a blush, that she takes no thought of the gold-dust, known among us as minutes and seconds, that are sifting through her fingers. By and by she is as truly impoverished as if she had thrown away the treasure by the nugget. Then comes the lament, if not the repentance, unto life. She is ‘run to death with work,’ but to save her life she doesn’t see how it is to be helped. She never could economize time. She has no genius for arranging her business to advantage.”


I went on to say what I have repeated with vigorous emphasis—energy having gathered vehemence under the pressure of twenty-five years of added experience—“System—by which. I mean a sagacious and economical apportionment of the duty to the hour and the minute; an avoidance of needless waste of working hours; a courageous putting forth of the hand to the plow, instead of talking over the labors to be performed while the cool morning moments are flying—SYSTEM, then, is not a talent!”

I recall as if it were yesterday the circumstances under which the sentences were written. A neighbor—as city blocks settle neighborliness—had brought her fancy work over and sat herself down in my easiest chair to “spend the morning.”

“I know you don’t visit in the forenoon, and don’t want company then, but I thought I would run in and talk a few matters over. And it won’t hurt you to get out of the rut now and then. You are in danger of becoming a mere human machine.”


I made no reply beyond a civil smile. It is the one and only way of meeting unintentional impertinence possible to a gentlewoman—and the most approved method of answering a fool according to her folly.

For two hours I hearkened to details of housewifely and domestic difficulties—a dolorous recital that returned oft and again to the impossibility of crowding all that is expected of a wife and mother who is also a housekeeper into the day, or week, or month appointed unto woman for work.

“Man’s work is from sun to sun;
Woman’s work is never done.”

she quoted, in rising to take her tardy leave. “My husband says it is bad management on my part, and tires me out by talking of ‘business principles introduced into the household.’ You know as well as I do that such talk is bosh! Maybe you systematic people, who do everything by rule and measure, may be able to accomplish something in that line. I haven’t a bit of system in my make-up. I wasn’t built that way!” With which morsel of slang she went her way to “be at home when the children come from school for luncheon.”


In the fragment of my precious forenoon that remained after she had nibbled at it for two hours, I wrote what I have selected as the starting point of our confabulation today.

I believe, and hold for certain, that it is practicable to run a household upon business principles. That so few women recognize and act upon this as a cardinal truth is one reason why our work is “never done.” My opinion is that a man wrote the couplet, and that there is sarcasm at the bottom of it.

To begin with, take account of your duties and the time you will have to give to each. That “something must be crowded out” is as certain in your daily tale of labors as it is in your husband’s business. The unexpected is likely to fall into his lot as into yours. He leaves a margin for it, and so must you. For example, you know that three meals are to be prepared and served tomorrow. Before you close your eyes tonight arrange in your mind what shall compose these meals; what materials are in the larder that may be used for this purpose; what you must buy to supplement the supply on hand, and what you can afford for the outlay. You had company yesterday, and, manage as you will, an extra mouth does make a variation in the food bills. Beckon what your guests cost you and make up the difference by contriving a simpler menu for the next meal. I do not counsed meanness in showing one way in which the bills may be “evened” at tile week’s end. The canny housemother rather enjoys the task of keeping up her reputation as a good provider by dainty devices, best known to Frenchwomen, but which we are learning to practice. Yesterday’s roast is capable of metamorphoses the less ingenious caterer does not dream of. A spoonful of gravy; a cupful of cooked vegetable; half a dozen eggs and a handful of lettuce; the heel of dry cheese; a cluster of bread crusts, are so many possibilities in the eye of the aforesaid canny manager. In two or three households that I wot of, the day on which “the mother” is called to the kitchen to concoct a “toss-up” luncheon or dinner is hailed with acclamation by the children, while the father’s smile directed to the head of the table and his hearty “It is easy to see whose hand has been busy here” repay with compound interest for all the heat, the planning and the toil.

Housewifery is a profession—a craft; a lifelong contract—not a series of haphazard makeshifts. Into it should go serious thought and sustained energies. Just now two great nations are stirred by what in early English were termed “wondrous commovements,” touching the right of women to vote for rulers and to make laws. In more direct phrase, as is well formulated by an Englishwoman:

“What is, in fact, proposed is that women, while continuing to do all their own work, shall take an increased share in that of men.’’

I have no intention of entering into the main question at issue here and now. I allude to it that I may impress more deeply upon our housemother’s conscience the duty of ordering her present duties so wisely as to prove her ability to take her part in men’s work in such fashion as may make the world better.


Have I, in seeming, strayed from the subject in hand? It is in seeming alone. If we would dignify our profession—than which there is none more necessary to the welfare of humanity—we must, study the proportions of our several duties, assigning to each its lawful place. Every department of household work must have its place, and be kept in it. The housemother’s schedule of employments should be as orderly as the college girl’s daily appointment of recitations. To every day its especial line of labor; to every hour a specific task, or rest and recreation.

For some the obligation involves a long apprenticeship. The iron is blunt. Then lay to it more strength. System is not a natural gift, but an acquisition.

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How to Entertain at an Evening Reception

This is the second article in May of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on May 12, 1907, and is the last discussion on entertaining at meals.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Washington Times.

How to Entertain at an Evening Reception

NOBODY calls it a party nowadays. The word has been appropriated by politicians and “personal conductors” of voyagers, until the social flavor has been entirely dissipated.

A hundred years agone what we knew as a “reception” would have been called a “rout.”

I happened the other day upon a sentence in the “Life of Sydney Smith,” by his daughter, Lady Holland, that tickled me amazingly. It might have been printed in 1907, in the satirical critic’s corner of the Morning Trumpeter, of Chicago, Philadelphia, or New York.

The biographer of the clerical wit tells of his dissuading invited guests from attending a certain “rout” by “painting and describing in glowing colors the horrors of a dumplin rout—the heat, the crowd, the bad lemonade, the ignominy of appearing next day in the Morning Post.”

Cynical Views.

A blunt husband once defined his wife’s semi-annual assemblage of all her acquaintances as “saying grace over the whole social hogshead.” It is not unusual to hear sporting Benedicts allude to the big function as “wiping off the slate.”

The average omnium gathering, christened by society leaders “the reception,” deserves all this and more. It is no compliment to be invited to one, and seldom anything but a bore to the givers of the “rout.” In former papers I have spoken of the knack of bringing together congenial spirits as the very genius of successful hospitality. This selection of harmonious elements is impracticable when invitations are issued by the hundred. Somebody is bound to feel out of place and ill at ease. Host and guests are lucky if the “somebody” be not in the plural and do not include most of those present.

So well is the difficulty of entertaining a motley throng of acquaintances understood that the necessity of providing other forms of amusement than conversation is universally acknowledged. To this end card tables are laid in one room, a band of music a cleared floor for dancing in another, where the entertainers can afford space and money for these preparations.

So much for the general reception that clears off a multitude of social debts and leaves the mind of the hostess easy on the score of slights and affronts conceived in the minds of some of her dear 500 “friends.”

If, however, you, my reader, a woman of fair means and hospitable disposition wish to bring together under your roof fifty or seventy-five friends in the evening, perhaps, to mark the debut of a daughter, or to introduce to your circle of acquaintances a guest whom you delight to honor, you may make the function a pleasant memory to all who take part in it.

The dining table should be drawn to the utmost length that will allow free passage to the crowd that will troop into the room when supper is served. Chairs are set back against the wall leaving as much space as possible for the waiters and the men who supplement the hirelings in caring for the wants of their partners. If you have a handsome embroidered cloth of sufficient length to cover the table fully and hang gracefully over the edge at each end, use it. If not, dispose the prettiest centerpieces and doilies you have over the polished surface, leaving little bare space. The light should come mainly from candelabra and lamps. The supper table must be more brilliantly lighted than that laid for a dinner. A low bowl of flowers has the place of honor in the middle. Smaller bowls are nearer the corners, and dishes of fruit, tastefully arranged and garnished with leaves, flank the central ornament. For eatables have glass dishes of salads—lobster and chicken—sandwiches, boned and jellied tongue and chicken as substantials, and between them saucers or plates of salted nuts, bonbons, olives, candied ginger, small cakes, etc. Forms of ice cream and ices should be at the top and bottom and near the edge at the sides of the table to be accessible to the waiters. Annoying accidents to gowns and table furniture have been the consequence of carelessness in the placing of creams. The waiter should not be obliged to reach over intervening dishes to get at the fragile and treacherous sweets.

Receiving the Guests.

Hostess and daughters, with the master of the house—if there be one who is willing to bear his part in the reception—take their stand near the front door of the drawing room at the sound of the first arrival.

Dressing rooms are provided for men and for women. Wraps and hats are laid off in these, one or two maids being in attendance in the ladies’ dressing room to assist in removing mufflers and cloaks, and lending a hand in whatever rearrangement of toilettes may be required. The appointments of the dressing table should be complete and in order. Hand-glass, shoe and glove buttoners, hairpins, powder-puff, pins—and even a work basket, from which the maid may draw, at a minute’s notice, needle and thread to repair an unforseen rent—are little things which are no trifles in the time of sudden need. While women wear trains and cobweb draperies, and other people’s discarded hair, and renew damaged complexions with cosmetics, the provident hostess must cater to their infirmities.

Punctuality Not Necessary.

The hours during which the house will be open to arrivals are named the card of invitation. Punctuality is not a desideratum at this function. In fact, few make a point of being on time. If the hours be from 9 to 12 the rooms do not fill up until 10 and after. Supper is usually served about 10:30. The dining-room is then thrown open, and some member of the family, or friends who assist the hostess in her task, make the motion to enter. After the first installment of eaters has found the way to the table, the rest follow at their free will. Many partygoers make it a rule never to go into the supper room. There is nothing invidious in the refusal to partake of salads, creams, etc., at a late affair. As the veteran society woman sometimes takes in three receptions in one evening, the propriety of abstinence at one or two is obvious.

Says a social arbiter: “So long as guests are arriving, the hostess has no right to leave her post for food, or drink, or rest.” The justice of this cannot be denied, since the newest comer has the same right to attention as the first. Yet strict obedience to the rule leaves all guests to their own devices in a way which destroys, root and branch, the ostensible end of the reception. A brilliant woman, who is a figure in the best circles of the city where she is at home, told, in my hearing, the other day, the story of her experience in a house to which she was invited:

“I have what may be called a ‘calling acquaintanceship’ with the mother of the debutante in whose honor the evening party was given,” she said. “I had also met the daughter—a pretty and well-mannered girl. She stood at her mother’s side as I entered the splendid drawing room, bowed gracefully, smiled sweetly, and spoke my name as an echo to her mother’s cordial ‘Ah, Mrs. Blank! How very good in you to come.’ To her formula the hostess subjoined, ‘Louise feels highly honored that have paid her the compliment of attending her debut reception.’

‘Indeed I do!’ smiled the echo.

“I am sure that neither mother nor daughter would have recognized me in my evening dress had not the footman’s sonorous enunciation of my name reminded them of my identity. I lingered near the door and the reception group long enough to hear hostess and daughter say the same things in substance to ten other arrivals. Then I drifted through, the rooms, idly seeing, at least, a hundred faces—all strange to me—and not speaking person. Not a creature seemed to see me until I landed in the crowded supper room.

The table was superb, and well tended, for a waiter asked if he ‘might bring me something.’ I said ‘No’ and strayed leisurely back to the drawing room. By now the crowd was a press and it took at least ten minutes to thread it. I had been in the hospitable (?) mansion thirty-five minutes. As I made my adieux to the smiling twain on duty at the door, the hostess said sweetly: ‘Ah, Mrs. Blank! Going already? How very good in you to come! Louise feels highly honored that you have paid her the compliment of attending her debut.’ And dutiful Louise responded, ‘Indeed I do!’

“I went home and marked against the ‘Reception’ on my engagement calendar—‘Done!’ In that ‘social’ half hour I had not exchanged one syllable with a human being except what I have repeated.”

A travesty upon hospitality, you say. Perhaps so, but what more could the urbane hostess do for a single guest?

To avoid the hollow pretense of entertaining those who honor your invitation, ask a few intimate friends to act as pudding-sticks to the incongruous ingredients. Let some belonging to your family circle—relatives, if not members of your household—distribute themselves through the rooms, and look out for the stranger within your gates.

You cannot afford to employ paid artists to make music, to act plays, and recite for the delectation of the assembly. You are poor in expedients if you cannot devise recitations, charades, jugglery, or music that will give people who do not know each others’ names a few themes of common interest.

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How to Entertain at a Dinner

This is the first article in May of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on May 5, 1907, and is the second last discussion on entertaining at meals.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Washington Times.

How to Entertain at a Dinner

A DINNER is the stateliest if social functions. The acceptance of an invitation to dine should be regarded almost in the light of a vow. We are all familiar with the dictum of a modern arbiter elegantiarum, who was also a wit: “Accept an invitation to dinner with care. When you have accepted, go, if you are alive. If your die, let your executor go in your place.” It is ill bred, because inconsiderate to the verge of unkindness, to send a regret, unless for reasons that would hinder you from the fulfilment of a business engagement of extreme importance.

The law is based like the majority of social rules upon common sense. In making up her company, the sophisticated hostess selects the component parts as she would compound a cake, considering the effect of each ingredient upon the finished product. I called attention to this fact last week, in our 1uncheon talk. The composition of a dinner party is yet more important on account of the longer time passed at table. The orderly progress of an eight or ten course dinner occupies from an hour and a half to two hours. To be tied to one’s chair when one’s next neighbor has not an idea in common with one, and sometimes no ideas whatever, so far as his companions can discover, is purgatory, not pleasure-making. Invite people who would enjoy meeting their fellow-guests, making sure to have one or more good talkers, who will act like leaven in keeping up general liveliness. So well is the expediency of this ingredient in the social loaf understood that some hostesses who do not number many brilliant conversationalists upon their visiting lists, go outside of the pale of personal acquaintanceship for what may be classed as good table talkers. The subject of table talk is one that has engaged the thoughts and pens of able writers. It is full of interest. With it we have nothing to do today.

Eight the Perfect Number.

Some one has called eight “the perfect number for dinner.” One additional leaf in the family board will usually grant all the room needed for that number. One word on this head may be useful, Avoid crowding chairs together to an extent that will make seating the guests a matter of difficulty, or bring their elbows into contact in the course of the business of the meal. Leave room for the waitress to pass plates to and from each place. But avoid, as the other extreme, wide reaches of cloth that impart to the air of a waste and dreary wilderness. Without crowding the decorations and the dishes of olives, salted nuts, celery, etc., that are catalogued as “hors d’oeuvres,” see to it that no ghastly expanses of white damask make the feast seem scantily set forth. These are minor details, but disregard of them has marred the symmetry of many a dinner.

Dinner is announced by the butler’s or maid’s appearance in the door of the drawing room, with a bow to the hostess, and “Dinner is served.” Have I ever told in this column the anecdote of the new maid who had been duly instructed her employer as to the proper form of announcing the several meal? When told the cook to let company know that all was in readiness for eating, she horrified that mistress by droping her Old World courtesy in the doorway, and voicferating at a pitch that turned all eyes to ward her:

“Please, ma’am, breakfast is on; luncheon is ready; dinner is served.” The matter of her lesson was correct. In manner and in discrimination of times and seasons she was woefully astray.

Your dinner, then, is served. You have already signified quietly to each man woman he is to take into the dining room. The woman takes his right arm, the party moves toward the entrance, the host leading the way with the guest of honor, or the oldest women present or the greatest stranger This question is between host and hostess in advance In unofficial Amen can circles there is no Axed law of precedence in these matters.

Setting the Table.

At each plate is the “service-plate,” and at the right of it as many knives as will be needed before dessert is served, each with the sharp blade turned toward the plate. Outside of the knives lies the soup spoon, with the inner side of the bowl upward. At the left of the plates the forks are arranged. Both knives and forks are laid in the order in which they are to be used, beginning with that farthest from the plate and working inward. If there be raw oysters, the oyster fork is placed at the right of the soup spoon or across the oyster plate itself. The tines of the forks are turned upward.

Spoons and forks intended for the sweets and for Roman punch or sherbet usually accompany the plates, saucers or cups containing these.

A glass of water stands just beyond the extreme tins of the knives. If wines be used, the first wine glass is between the knives and the tumbler of water, and the others are arranged in a curved line beyond the plate. Sauterne or some other light, sour wine goes with the fish; sherry with the roast, or other piece de resistance, and claret with game. If but one wine be served, it is usually sherry or claret. The waitress fills the glasses after each course from a bottle, about the neck of which a napkin is wound.

The table is lighted with candles in “fancy” sticks, or set in candelabra. If you have not enough of these to give sufficient light, supplement it by shaded gas or electric burners.

One cardinal rule in serving a dinner is that a plate must be in place in front of each person from the first to the last course. The soup plate is set down upon the service plate, and is taken up with it; the soup plate, in turn, is superseded by that containing fish, and so on. All the serving is done from the kitchen and side table, now called the “service table.”

The waitress sets down the full plate at the left of the guest and takes the emptied plate from the right. She also sets down clean plates from the right.

In serving, she begins first at the right, then goes to the left of host, or the right and then to the left of the hostess, thus going down, or up, until the master or mistress is reached last. Some still persist in the custom of serving the hostess first of all, but the fashion is passing away. The only excuse for it was that if there were anything wrong wish dish or serving, the blunder might be rectified before the food reached the guests.

Clear Table for Sweets.

Just before the sweets are brought on the relishes, salt and pepper are taken off on a tray covered with a napkin, that the removal may be noiseless, and the crumbs are brushed off with a folded napkin. For creams, etc., plates bearing doilies and finger bowls are set on from the right of the eaters. The are one-third full of lukewarm water. The doilies are transferred to the table by the guests, and the bowls set upon them, leaving the plates clear for dessert.

The water in the finger bowl is usually slightly scented, sometimes by a bit of lemon verbena or rose gerainum left floating in it, on which the fingers may be lightly rubbed. At a recent well-appointed dinner the finger bowls contained liqueur glass in which were a few drops of essence of wintergreen, which, just before handing the bowl to the guest, the waiter deftly tipped into the finger bowl.

Coffee is taken into the drawing room for the ladies. They withdraw from the dining room at a signal from the hostess, the men rising and remaining standing until their fair companions disappear, after which they will sit down for coffee and cigars.

If liquers, creme de menthe, benedictine or wild cherry are the sequitur of the dinner, they are passed in tiny glasses to the women in the parlors, to the men at the table.

It is not form for the latter to protract the sitting over “walnuts and wine,” coffee and cigars, beyond the conventional half hour of separation. Nor is it considered “the thing” to linger late in the hospitable mansion after a dinner party. If the hour for dinner be half-past 7, carriages should not be ordered for a later hour than half-past 10.

Menu for a Spring Dinner.
Clams     Cocktails
Consomme a la Russe
Baked Shad with Sauce Tartare
Fried Potatoes and Cucumber Salad
Sweetbread Croquettes
Crown Roast of Lamb with Mint Sauce
Green Peas     Asparagus
Roman Punch
Broiled Spring Chickens Lettuce and Tomato Salad
Strawberry Ice Cream (with the fruit frozen in)     Cakes
Crackers and Gorgonzola Cheese
Black Coffee

N.B. —Full dress is imperative at a dinner party. Sack coats, Prince Alberts, and skirts of walking length are inadmissible.

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How to Entertain at a Luncheon

This is the final article in April of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on April 28, 1907, and is a discussion on how to entertain at a luncheon.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Washington Times.

How to Entertain at a Luncheon

IF IT be not the most delightful of modern social functions, it is likely to be one of the stupidest. As a rule, women are not gourmands. That her own share in what is cooked and served in her home is a matter of comparative indifference to the housemother has passed into a proverb. Where you meet with one woman who is addicted to the pleasures of the table, and like Watt’s sluggard.

“Talks of eating and drinking,”

you may count a hundred who, if each lived alone, would not have a regular meal cooked once a month. The epicure is a curiosity to her acquaintances. I was talking the other day with one of the gentlest and most charitable of her sex of the illness of her sister.

“The case is the more obstinate because the dietary is strict,” she remarked, lowering her voice, to a confidential pitch. “And” —here she glanced over her shoulder to make sure there were no eavesdroppers— “you know the poor dear loves good eating!”

What a Woman Enjoys.

The admission was a slur upon an otherwise well-bred kinswoman. Therefore, the enjoyment of a woman’s luncheon party depends largely upon the choice of one’s guests, and the disposition of the same in seating them at the table. When I find myself wondering secretly during the third course of the meal why I was invited to meet these people, and why, when there, I was seated next to a woman with whom I have not one idea in common, and who evidently is having hard work in the lame effort to be interested in what I am forcing myself to say—that party is to us two a dismal failure, no matter how elegant the appointments of the table, or how delicious the food.

It was a saying in my girlhood that passe belles had arrived at the “supper stage.” That is, that they consoled themselves with salads and sweets at parties where they used to enjoy the homage of admirers too much to care what they ate or drank.

The average woman of society gives the menu a third-rate place in her reflections upon dinner, supper or luncheon. Her husband easily consoles himself for the stupidity of his neighbors at dinner by devoting himself more unreservedly to the capital dishes for his acceptance. If the soup be clear and savory, the fish fresh and piping hot and served with tied right sauce; the ducks done to a turn and the venison tender and juicy; if the entrees be toothsome, and the coffee complies with each of Talleyrand’s stipulations, John is measurably compensated for temporary boredom. When he reports the affair to his wife on his return home he begins with a recital of the menu, and, this done, observes incidentally that “there was a somewhat dull lot of people there.” He “wonders where Smith-Jones picked up so many fellows who can’t talk.” Or—“A rattling good set of fellows, too!” as the sequel of the tale.

The Opposite of Men.

A woman tells, first, who were at the luncheon, how they talked and dressed; what good stories and lively chat went around the board; then, how the rooms and tables were decorated—finally, and casually, what they had to eat.

Too many guests at a luncheon party, or at any other function in a private house where all must sit down to table, is a mistake. I shall dwell upon this point when we talk of the dinner party. Twelve are not too many if the elements composing the company are congenial in tastes and in the same rank of society. To bring together the vulgar rich and the refined poor is a fatal blunder. I do not imply, of course, that a majority of the newly rich are vulgar, any more than I would intimate that most of the many who have not suitable luncheon gowns are refined. But you, the hostess, will be more at ease if no plainly attired woman suffers inward mortification from the contrast with the superb costumes of the rest of the party.

Hats Are Not Removed.

It should not be necessary at this day to observe that hats are not removed at a luncheon. Yet I have in memory sundry incidents that show the expediency of fixing this freak of fashion in the mind of the unsophisticated guest. The hostess and her daughters and the guest whose visit in the house us the occasion of the function are the exceptions to the rule.

Punctuality is absolutely obligatory upon the guests. It is ill bread to the point of rudeness to be a minute behind the hour named for the luncheon. It is also awkward to anticipate that hour by more than ten minutes. The butler, or the parlor maid, announces that “luncheon is ready” from the door of the drawing room, addressing the mistress pointedly, more in dumb show than audibly. The appearance of the man in correct attire, or of the maid, in her neat uniform of black gown, apron and cap, is the signal for a general rising—the hostess setting the example. She marshals the party in a pleasant, off-hand manner, coupling them as she has arranged thorn in her own mind, bringing up the rear with the guest of honor.

It is no longer the fashion to have decorated place cards. A simple card with the name of the guest written on it lies at her place.

How to Use Flowers.

In decorating the table, avoid strongly perfumed flowers, and, if possible, carry out a color scheme so well as to give harmonious character to the display. The boutonnieres laid beside the plates must be alike, and accord with the low bowl of flowers in the middle of the cloth.

If your dining room be well lighted by the natural illumination of day, do not, I beg, follow servilely a fashion introduced by dwellers in closely built blocks, where the blessed sunshine is unknown by the seeing of the eye after one leaves the street. If the rooms in which you entertain your friends open (?) upon shafts and courts, you must, perforce, light the luncheon table with candelabra, supplemented by gas or electric burners overhead. Shade all with silk or paper screens corresponding with your color scheme.

Cream of Celery Soup.
Fried Smelts with Lemon Sauce.
Stuffed Potatoes.   Broiled Sweetbreads.
Asparagus a la Creme.
French Chops.   Green Peas.
Tomato and Lettuce Salad with Mayonnaise.
Crackers and Cream Cheese.
Strawberry Mousse.   Cake.   Coffee.

Coffee and Bonbons.

Small dishes of olives, celery, salted nuts, and bonbons are on the table throughout the luncheon until the ice cream is brought on. Then all are removed except the bonbons. Coffee may be served at table or in the drawing room In the latter case the bonbons are also taken into the drawing room or into the library.

All the carving and serving is done from the kitchen—nominally, from the butler’s pantry. With a little training a tolerably competent waitress will learn to garnish such dishes as are to be passed for the eaters to help themselves, and to arrange tastefully the individual portions to be set down before them. For instance, the salad of this simple luncheon—which is easily within the ability of any housewife of moderate means and experience—is put on the chilled plates thus: A cluster of three crisp lettuce leaves is the bed on which half a tomato of medium size is laid. Just before the salad goes to the dining room a great spoonful of mayonnaise is poured upon the tomato. Minced chives are a piquant addition to mayonnaise, or to French dressing.

A sauce of butter, beaten to a cream with lemon juice and colored with finely minced parsley, is put into the emptied halves of lemons and set in ice until the fish is served. A half lemon accompanies each portion of fish.

Watercresses garnish the sweetbreads, which are passed on the dish, no carving being necessary. Asparagus is the accompanying vegetable, as the stuffed potatoes go with the fish, and green peas with the chops. Celery and olives go around in a desultory fashion at any stage of the luncheon after the fish course; crackers and cheese attend the salad.

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Novel Ideals for an Afternoon Reception

This is the second article in April of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on April 14, 1907, and is a discussion on how to entertain at a afternoon reception.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of Boston Sunday Post.

Novel Ideals for an Afternoon Reception

IN THOUSANDS of American homes the habit of 5-o’clock tea is as confirmed as in the parent country, where the fashion is now hoary with age. It is a comfortable and a heartening custom. The tea-tray is brought into the family sitting-room—into the mistress’ sanctum—or, if the family be large, and the elements various, into the dining-room—wherever it is convenient to assemble the several members. The tea is poured by mother or daughter, a plate of bread and butter is passed, perhaps one of tea biscuits or light cake; there is cheerful talk over the teacups for fifteen or twenty minutes, if the household be busy, and the little party breaks up, each going her way until dinner time.

Should a visitor chance to call near tea time, the function is not altered. The tray is carried by maid or butler into the drawing-room, and the members of the family who are at home follow it.

In households where tea-drinking is dignified into a ceremony, and the quality of the beverage is made a matter of importance, the furniture of the tray includes teakettle and alcohol lamp, and the tea is brewed in the sight of the party. It is a graceful and a gracious “ceremony.” Stiffness and strangerhood melt before it, as frost under the sunshine. Talk is stimulated and good fellowship established.


The afternoon tea and reception is an expansion of the daily custom. An evening “affair” involves the necessity of a formal and a more or less elaborate supper. There must be music, and, nowadays, the hostess considers herself bound to provide some kind of “entertainment” other than dancing for the young people and cards for the elder guests. I make no pause here to bemoan the decadence of conversation as a lost art. Cards and dancing have taken the life out of talk. If a girl waltzes well, nobody asks if she can converse. If her mother, aunt or elder sister can hold her own at whist, or be an Horatia at the “Bridge”—what need of further social accomplishments?

Dancing and cards are varied by vocal and instrumental music, recitations, amateur theatricals—any novel fad that promises diversion to blase wordlings. The function is expensive, laborious and, to all save the debutante and the “young” beauty, tedious and trite.

“The only difference is in the caterer,” sighed a society girl in her third season. “I have been to twenty this winter. We say the same nothings; we meet the same set of people, and I know it all by heart before I go.”


The afternoon function is a happy combination of the best features of the two forms of hospitality. There must be a set table in the dining-room, or, if more convenient, in the back parlor. The hostess compliments two of her friends by asking them “to pour,” one at each end of the prettily decorated board. If the room be not well-lighted, have candelabra, and soften the gas or electric light by balloon-shaped shades of colored silk or crimped tissue paper.

I enter my protest at this point against the barbaric practice of receiving guests—fresh from the sun filled air of heaven’s own making—in rooms dim with colored shadows and reeking with the breath of drooping flowers, not to mention artificial perfumes wrung from gums and oils and patented as “French.” I know it is the fashion to shut out the sunshine and to steep the “chiaroscuro” left in the airless interior in color and (alleged) fragrance. I am told that complexions show to advantage in the “doctored” twilight. To my apprehension, the complexion that cannot stand before the light of God’s day is not worth the trouble of keeping.

A shaded light need not be gloomy. If your dining-room or inner apartment be insufficiently lighted, as is the case with town houses that back upon courts or small yards—make it cheerful with gas, lamps or candelabra, but do not shade it to such a degree that you cannot recognize your best friend, or discover by the seeing of the eye whether you help yourself to a sandwich or an eclair.

The tea equipage should grace one end of the table, a chocolate service the other. Sugar, cream and sliced lemon surround the teapot or samovar. A pretty fork lies across the dish of sliced lemon; sugar tongs accompany the silver or china bowl of cut sugar. The cream jug has a ladle. It also stands in a tiny silver saucer of its own that stray drops may not trickle to the embroidered teacloth. The apparatus for chocolate is less varied. A china pot, a dish of granulated sugar (cut sugar does not dissolve readily in the thick liquid), and a wide-mouthed jug of whipped cream, a spoonful of which is laid upon the surface of each filled cup.

The interval dividing tea and chocolate equipages is filled with plates of sandwiches, cakes, bonbons, salted nuts, fancy rolls, etc. — whatever goes to make up a bountiful “afternoon tea.” If you have the knack of making veritable scones—pronounced “skuns” — the introduction of these will vary the collation agreeably. The sandwiches should be small and the contents must not overlap the edges. The eaters do not remove their gloves, and the ooze of cream cheese or mayonnaise will soil finger tips. Another acceptable addition to the conventional menu is toast. Toast thin strips of stale bread to a delicate brownish tint, butter while hot, and wrap in a heated doily. In serving, open the corner of the doily, to show the crisp bits within. It is very popular. Hot relays should come in from the kitchen during the afternoon. You may spread some of the toast with anchovy paste or with caviare.

If you desire to give the function more the air of a “reception” than a “tea,” enlarge the menu by serving hot bouillon in cups, and have a side table on which is arrayed the paraphernalia of claret punch or tea—or mint—or strawberry punch. Iced sherbet or cafe frappe may be substituted for the punch.

The hostess and her daughters are content to leave the business of dispensing the refreshments to the friendly “pourers” and to waiters. Their duty is to receive the guests and to mix the social brew into a cordial which shall not pall upon any.

Introductions at this function are convenient and pleasant, but the truly well-mannered guest does not wait for a formal presentation to a fellow-guest in a friend’s house. That he, or she, is there, and on equal terms with herself, is a guarantee of respectability, and that she will not lower her social status by falling into easy chat with her neighbor if occasion offer. Americans are beginning to comprehend this sensible social principle better than of old. There is no longer any excuse for having a “stupid time,” when the stupidity is not in one’s self.


Sift a quart of flour three times with two tablespoonfuls of baking powder and one of salt. Chop into it a tablespoonful of butter and the same of cottolene. Wet with enough milk to make a dough just stiff enough to be rolled out. The softer the better, so long as it may be handled. Work the dough with a wooden spoon, not touching it with the hands. When mixed, roll out half an inch thick; cut in to rounds with a cake cutter, and bake upon a soapstone griddle, turning when the lower side is brown. Tear open, butter and lay within a heated napkin upon a hot plate. Eat soon.

Oatmeal Scones.

Mix in a deep bowl three cupfuls of oatmeal and one of white flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder and one of salt. Have at hand three liberal cupfuls of milk heated to scalding, into which you have put a tablespoonful of sugar and three of butter. Stir for a moment; make a hole in the centre of the flour and meal and pour in the milk. Stir it down into the milk with a wooden spoon, not once touching it with the fingers.

When you have a soft, rough-looking dough, roll it out about a quarter inch thick, cut into rounds and bake upon a hot soapstone griddle, turning to brown it on both sides.

Cream Scones.

Sift a quart of flour with two tablespoonfuls of baking powder and half a teaspoonful of salt. Sift all together twice, and chop into the flour two even tablespoonfuls of butter, as you would in pastry. Mix with half cream, half milk, to a soft dough; roll out into a sheet less than half an inch thick; cut into rounds and bake in a quick oven. Spilt and butter while hot.

Lettuce Sandwiches.

Cut the crust from white bread; slice it thin, and butter. Lay between two slices a crisp lettuce leaf dipped in mayonnaise dressing.

Lettuce and Cream Cheese Sandwiches.

Slice the bread very thin when you have pared off the crust. Butter smoothly and lightly. Spread one slice with cream cheese and lay upon the other a crisp leaf of lettuce dipped in mayonnaise dressing.

Mint Punch.

Melt a cupful of granulated sugar in the strained juice of six lemons. Then add three peeled and sliced lemons. Slice very thin. Leave all in a big bowl, set in ice until just Before serving. It cannot be too cold. Transfer to your punchbowl; mix in a quart of finely pounded ice; stir for a moment and pour from a height of two feet, upon the mixture three bottles of imported ginger ale. Lastly, add a dozen sprays of green mint, washed and slightly bruised between the fingers.

Tea Punch.

Make a good infusion of tea with four teaspoonfuls of the best mixed tea and a quart of boiling water. After it has drawn four minutes, strain it from the leaves and cool. Fill the punchbowl half way to the top with cracked ice; stir in a cupful of granulated sugar and the strained juice of four lemons. The tea goes in next, and just before it is served, a pint of some good table water.

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