As recovery from any illness depends in large part upon proper food, and as the appetite of the sick is always capricious and often requires tempting, the greatest pains should be taken in the preparation of their meals. If only dry toast and tea, let each be perfect, remembering instructions for making each, and serving on the freshest of napkins and in dainty china. A tête-à-tête service is very nice for use in a sick-room; and in any case a very small teapot can be had, that the tea may always be made fresh. Prepare only a small amount of any thing, and never discuss it beforehand. A surprise will often rouse a flagging appetite. Be ready, too, to have your best attempts rejected. The article disliked one day may be just what is wanted the next. Never let food stand in a sick-room,—for it becomes hateful to a sensitive patient,—and have every thing as daintily clean as possible. Remember, too, that gelatine is not nourishing, and do not be satisfied to feed a patient on jellies. Bread from any brown flour will be more nourishing than wheat. Corn meal is especially valuable for thin, chilly invalids, as it contains so much heat. In severe sickness a glass tube is very useful for feeding gruels and drinks, and little white china boats with spouts are also good. A wooden tray with legs six or seven inches high, to stand on the bed, is very convenient for serving meals. Let ventilation, sunshine, and absolute cleanliness rule in the sick-room. Never raise a dust, but wipe the carpet with a damp cloth, and pick up bits as needed. Never let lamp or sun light shine directly in the eyes, and, when the patient shows desire to sleep, darken the room a little. Never whisper, nor wear rustling dresses, nor become irritated at exactions, but keep a cheerful countenance, which helps often far more than drugs. Experience must teach the rest.
BEEF TEA, OR ESSENCE OF BEEF.
Cut a pound of perfectly lean beef into small bits. Do not allow any particle of fat to remain. Put in a wide-mouthed bottle, cork tightly, and set in a kettle of cold water. Boil for three hours; pour off the juice, which is now completely extracted from the meat. There will be probably a small cupful. Season with a saltspoonful of salt. This is given in extreme sickness, feeding a teaspoonful at a time.
BEEF TEA FOR CONVALESCENTS.
One pound of lean beef prepared as above. Add a pint of cold water,—rain-water is best,—and soak for an hour. Cover closely, and boil for ten minutes; or put in the oven, and let it remain an hour. Pour off the juice, season with half a teaspoonful of salt, and use. A little celery salt makes a change.
The bones and a pound of meat from a chicken put in three pints of cold water. Skim thoroughly when it comes to a boil, add a teaspoonful of salt, and simmer for three hours. Strain and serve. A tablespoonful of soaked rice or tapioca may be added after the broth is strained. Return it in this case to the fire, and boil half an hour longer.
Boil chicken as for broth, but reduce the liquid to half a pint. Strain into a cup or little mold, and turn out when cold.
Take the breast of the chicken boiled as above; cut in bits, and pound smooth in a mortar. Take a teacupful of bread-crumbs; soak them soft in warm milk, or, if liked better, in a little broth. Mix them with the chicken; add a saltspoonful of salt, and, if allowed, a pinch of mace; and serve in a cup with a spoon.
BEEF, TAPIOCA, AND EGG BROTH.
One pound of lean beef, prepared as for beef tea, and soaked one hour in a quart of cold water. Boil slowly for two hours. Strain it. Add a half teaspoonful of salt, and half a cupful of tapioca which has been washed and soaked an hour in warm water. Boil slowly half an hour. Serve in a shallow bowl, in which a poached egg is put at the last, or stir a beaten egg into one cup of the boiling soup, and serve at once with wafers or crackers.
Have ready, in a double boiler, one quart of boiling water with a teaspoonful of salt, and sprinkle in two tablespoonfuls of fine oatmeal. Boil an hour; then strain, and serve with cream or milk and sugar if ordered. Farina gruel is made in the same way.
INDIAN OR CORN MEAL GRUEL.
One quart of boiling water; one teaspoonful of salt. Mix three tablespoonfuls of corn meal with a little cold water, and stir in slowly. Boil one hour; strain and serve, a cupful at once.
One quart of boiling milk; two tablespoonfuls of flour mixed with a little cold milk and half a teaspoonful of salt. Stir into the milk, and boil half an hour.
Strain and serve. If allowed, a handful of raisins and a little grated nutmeg may be boiled with it.
Boil one cup of new milk, and add half a wine-glass of good sherry or Madeira wine. Boil a minute; strain, and use with or without sugar as liked.
One egg; one tablespoonful of sugar; half a cup of milk; one tablespoonful of wine.
Beat the sugar and yolk to a cream; add the wine, and then the milk. Beat the white to a stiff froth, and stir in very lightly.
ARROW-ROOT OR RICE JELLY.
Two heaping teaspoonfuls of either arrow-root or rice flour; a pinch of salt; a heaping tablespoonful of sugar; one cup of boiling water.
Mix the flour with a little cold water, and add to the boiling water. Boil until transparent, and pour into cups or small molds. For a patient with summer complaint, flavor by boiling a stick of cinnamon in it. For a fever patient add the juice of quarter of a lemon.
DR. GAUNT'S RICE JELLY.
Take four tablespoonfuls of rice, and boil it hard in three pints of water for twenty minutes. Let simmer for two hours. Then force through fine hair strainer, and allow it to cool. Place in an ice chest over night.
DIRECTIONS FOR USE.
Dissolve two tablespoonfuls of the rice jelly in each one-half pint of milk.
RICE WATER FOR DRINK.
One quart of boiling water; a pinch of salt; one tablespoonful of rice or rice flour. Boil half an hour, and strain.
Two thick slices of graham or Boston brown bread toasted as brown as possible. Pour on one pint of boiling water, and steep ten minutes. Serve with milk and sugar, like coffee.
Broil a thick piece of beef steak three minutes. Squeeze all the juice with a lemon-squeezer into a cup; salt very lightly, and give like beef tea.
JELLY AND ICE.
Break ice in bits no bigger than a pea. A large pin will break off bits from a lump very easily. To a tablespoonful add one of wine jelly broken up. It is very refreshing in fever.
Lay in a bowl two Boston or graham crackers split; sprinkle on a pinch of salt, and cover with boiling water. Set the bowl in a saucepan of boiling water, and let it stand half an hour, till the crackers look clear. Slide into a hot saucer without breaking, and eat with cream and sugar. As they are only good hot, do just enough for the patient's appetite at one time.
Toast one or two thin slices of bread; dip quickly in a little salted boiling water, and spread on a little butter. Boil a teacupful of milk; thicken with a teaspoonful of flour mixed in a little cold water with a pinch of salt; lay the toast in a small, hot, deep plate, and pour over the milk. Cream toast is made in the same way.
Two or three tablespoonfuls of raw, very tender beef, scraped fine, and spread between two slices of slightly buttered bread. Sprinkle on pepper and salt.
Tie a pint of flour tightly in a cloth, and boil for four hours. Scrape off the outer crust, and the inside will be found to be a dry ball. Grate this as required, allowing one tablespoonful wet in cold milk to a pint of boiling milk, and boiling till smooth. Add a saltspoonful of salt. This is excellent for summer complaint, whether in adults or children. The beaten white of an egg can also be stirred in if ordered. If this porridge is used from the beginning of the complaint, little or no medicine will be required.
Roast to a deep brown as you would coffee, and then cook as in rule for boiled rice, p. 199, and eat with cream and sugar.
Parch as above, and grind. Allow half a cup to a quart of boiling water, and let it steep fifteen minutes. Strain, and drink plain, or with milk and sugar.
For the dried herbs allow one teaspoonful to a cup of boiling water. Pour the water on them; cover, and steep ten minutes or so. Camomile tea is good for sleeplessness; calamus and catnip for babies' colic; and cinnamon for hemorrhages and summer complaint. Slippery-elm and flax-seed are also good for the latter.
BEEF STEAK OR CHOPS, ETC.
With beef steak, cut a small thick piece of a nice shape; broil carefully, and serve on a very hot plate, salting a little, but using no butter unless allowed by the physician.
Chops should be trimmed very neatly, and cooked in the same way. A nice way of serving a chop is to broil, and cut in small bits. Have ready a baked potato. Cut a slice from the top; take out the inside, and season as for eating; add the chop, and return all to the skin, covering it, and serving as hot as possible.
When appetite has returned, poached eggs on toast, a little salt cod with cream, or many of the dishes given under the head of Breakfast Dishes, are relished. Prepare small quantities, preserving the right proportions of seasoning.
Two ounces of tapioca,—about two tablespoonfuls,—soaked over-night in one cup of cold water. In the morning add a second cup of cold water, and boil till very clear. Add quarter of a cup of sugar; two teaspoonfuls of brandy or four of wine; or the thin rind and juice of a lemon may be used instead. Very good hot, but better poured into small molds wet with cold water, and turned out when firm.
Half a cup of tapioca soaked over-night in a cup of cold water. In the morning add a quart of milk and half a teaspoonful of salt, and boil three hours. It can be eaten plain, or with sugar and wine. Most of the blancmanges and creams given can be prepared in smaller quantities, if allowed. Baked custards can be made with the whites of the eggs, if a very delicate one is desired.
Two roasted sour apples, or one pint of washed dried apples. Pour on one quart of boiling water; cover, and let it stand half an hour, when it is ready for use.
THE EASIEST WAY IN HOUSEKEEPING AND COOKING.
Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes