Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/62

This page has been validated.

chapter, and then to busy herself with those numerous little tasks associated with arranging and providing for the day. This will bring her to the breakfast hour of eight, after which preparations must be made for the other meals of the household.

Daily Duties.—In those households where cook and housemaid only are kept, the general custom is that the cook shall look after the dining-room. Other household work, varying in different households, is also committed to her care. In establishments of this kind, the cook will, after having lighted her kitchen fire, brushed the range, and cleaned the hearth, proceed to prepare for breakfast. She will thoroughly rinse the kettle, and set it to boil. She may then perhaps have to go to the breakfast-room, and there make things ready for the breakfast. Attention must also be given to sweeping the hall, shaking the hall mats, which she must afterwards put back in their places.

The cleaning of the kitchen, passages, and kitchen stairs must always be over before breakfast, so that it may not interfere with the other business of the day. Everything should be ready, and the whole house should wear a comfortable aspect. Nothing is more pleasing to the mistress of an establishment than to notice that, although she has not been present to see the work done, proper attention has been paid to such matters.

By the time that the cook has performed the duties mentioned above, and well swept, brushed, and dusted her kitchen, the breakfast bell will perhaps summon her to the parlour, to "bring in" breakfast. It is often the cook's department, in small establishments, to take in the breakfast, as the housemaid, by this time, has gone upstairs into the bedrooms, and has there applied herself to her various duties. But many ladies prefer the breakfast brought in by the housemaid, though it remain to be cleared and washed up by the cook. Whichever way this part of the work is managed, each servant should have her duties clearly laid down for her. The cook usually answers the bells and single knocks at the door in the early part of the morning, as the tradesmen, with whom it is her more special business to speak, call at these hours.

The Preparation of Dinner is the most important part of the cook's work, wherein she begins to feel the responsibility of her situation, as she has to see to the dressing and serving of those dishes, which her skill and ingenuity have prepared. Whilst these, however, are cooking, she must be busy with her pastry, soups, gravies, entrées, etc. Stock, or what the French call bouillon, being the basis of most made dishes, must be always at hand, in conjunction with sweet herbs and spices for seasoning. "A place for everything, and everything in its place," must be the rule, in order that time may not be wasted in looking for things when they are wanted, and that the whole business of cooking may move with the regularity and precision of a well-adjusted machine. All must go on simultaneously. The vegetables and