A Special dinner for a holiday celebration
has so long been a time-honored custom in most families,
that the majority of housewives consider it indispensable.
While we admire the beautiful custom of gathering
one’s friends and neighbors around the hospitable
board, and by no means object to a special dinner
on holiday occasions, yet we are no wise in sympathy
with the indiscriminate feastings so universally indulged
in at such dinners, whereby stomachs are overloaded
with a decidedly unhealthful quality of food, to be
followed by dull brains and aching heads for days
And this is not the extent of the
evil. Holiday feasting undoubtedly has much to
do with the excessive use of intoxicants noticeable
at such times. Tempted to overeat by the rich
and highly seasoned viands which make up the bill
of fare, the heaviness resulting from a stomach thus
overburdened creates a thirst not readily satisfied.
A person who has noted how frequently one is called
upon to assuage thirst after having eaten too heartily
of food on any occasion, will hardly doubt that indigestible
holiday dinners are detrimental to the cause of total
Then, for the sake of health and the cause of temperance,
while an ample repast is provided, let not the bill of fare be so lavish as to
tempt to gormandizing; and let the viands be of the most simple and wholesome
character practicable, although, of course, inviting.
A picnic, to serve its true end, ought
to be a season of healthful recreation; but seemingly,
in the general acceptation of the term, a picnic means
an occasion for a big dinner composed of sweets and
dainties, wines, ices, and other delectable delicacies,
which tempt to surfeiting and excess. The preparation
necessary for such a dinner usually requires a great
amount of extra and wearisome labor, while the eating
is very apt to leave results which quite overshadow
any benefit derived from the recreative features of
the occasion. It is generally supposed that a
picnic is something greatly conducive to health; but
where everything is thus made subservient to appetite,
it is one of the most unhygienic things imaginable.
The lunch basket should contain ample
provision for fresh-air-sharpened appetites, but let
the food be as simple as possible, and of not too
great variety. Good whole-wheat or Graham bread
in some form, with well sterilized milk and cream,
or a soup previously prepared from grains or legumes,
which can be readily heated with the aid of a small
alcohol or kerosene stove, and plenty of fruit of
seasonable variety, will constitute a very good bill
of fare. If cake is desirable, let it be of a
very simple kind, like the buns or raised cake for
which directions are given in another chapter.
Beaten biscuits, rolls, and crisps are also serviceable
for picnic dinners. Fruit sandwiches made
by spreading slices of light whole-wheat or Graham
bread with a little whipped cream and then with fresh
fruit jam lightly sweetened, with fig sauce or steamed
figs chopped, steamed prunes or sliced bananas are
most relishable. These should be made on the
ground, just before serving, from material previously
prepared. An egg sandwich may be prepared in
the same manner by substituting for the fruit the hard-boiled
yolks of eggs chopped with a very little of the whitest
and tenderest celery, and seasoned lightly with salt.
Two pleasing and palatable picnic breads may be made
PICNIC BISCUIT. Prepare
a dough as for Raised Biscuit, page 145, and when
thoroughly kneaded the last time, divide, and roll
both portions to about one fourth of an inch in thickness.
Spread one portion with stoned dates, or figs that
have been chopped or cut fine with scissors, cover
with the second portion, and cut into fancy shapes.
Let the biscuits rise until very light, and bake.
Wash the tops with milk to glace before baking.
FIG WAFERS. Rub together
equal quantities of Graham meal, and figs that have
been chopped very fine. Make into a dough with
cold sweet cream. Roll thin, cut in shape, and
If provision can be made for the reheating
of foods, a soup, or grain, macaroni with tomato sauce,
or with egg or cream sauce, or some similar article
which can be cooked at home, transported in sealed
fruit cans, and reheated in a few moments on the grounds,
is a desirable addition to the picnic bill of fare.
Recipes for suitable beverages for
such occasions will be found in the chapter on Beverages.
Mothers whose children are obliged
to go long distances to school, are often greatly
perplexed to know what to put up for the noonday lunch
which shall be both appetizing and wholesome.
The conventional school lunch of white bread and butter,
sandwiches, pickles, mince or other rich pie, with
a variety of cake and cookies, is scarcely better than
none at all; since on the one hand there is a deficiency
of food material which can be used for the upbuilding
of brains, muscles, and nerves; while on the other
hand it contains an abundance of material calculated
to induce dyspepsia, headache, dullness of intellect,
and other morbid conditions. Left in an ante-room,
during the school session, until, in cold weather,
it becomes nearly frozen, and then partaken of hurriedly,
that there may be more time for play, is it to be
wondered at that the after-dinner session drags so
wearily, and that the pupils feel sleepy, dull, and
uninterested? Our brains are nourished by blood
made from the food we eat; and if it be formed of improper
or unwholesome food, the result will be a disordered
organ, incapable of first-class work.
Again, the extra work imposed upon
the digestive organs and the liver in getting rid
of the excess of fats and sugar in rich, unwholesome
foods, continually overtaxes these organs.
It can hardly be doubted that a large
majority of the cases of so-called overwork from which
school children suffer, are caused by violation of
hygienic laws regarding food and diet rather than by
an excess of brain work; or in other words, had the
brain been properly nourished by an abundance of good,
wholesome food, the same amount of work could have
been easily accomplished with no detriment whatever.
Whenever practicable, children should
return to their homes for the midday lunch, since
under the oversight of a wise mother there will be
fewer violations of hygienic laws, and the walk back
to the school room will be far more conducive to good
digestion than the violent exercise or the sports
so often indulged in directly after eating. When
this is impracticable, let the lunch be as simple
as possible, and not so ample as to tempt the child
to overeat. Good whole-wheat or Graham bread of
some kind, rolls, crisps, beaten biscuit, sticks, fruit
rolls, and wafers, with a cup of canned fruit or a
bottle of rich milk as an accompaniment, with plenty
of nice, fresh fruits or almonds or a few stalks of
celery, is as tempting a lunch as any child need desire.
It would be a good plan to arrange for the heating
of a portion of the milk to be sipped as a hot drink.
In many school rooms the ordinary heating stove will
furnish means for this, or a little alcohol stove or
a heating lamp may be used for the purpose, under
the supervision of the teacher.
Furnish the children with apples,
oranges, bananas, pears, grapes, filberts, and almonds
in place of rich pie and cake. They are just as
cheap as the material used for making the less wholesome
sweets, and far easier of digestion. An occasional
plain fruit or grain pudding, cup custard, or molded
dessert may be substituted for variety. Fruit
sandwiches, or a slice of Stewed Fruit Pudding prepared
as directed on page 308 are also suitable for this
Rice prepared as directed below makes
a wholesome and appetizing article for the lunch basket:
CREAMY RICE. Put a pint
of milk, one quarter of a cup of best Carolina rice,
a tablespoonful of sugar, and a handful of raisins
into an earthen-ware dish, and place on the top of
the range where it will heat very slowly to boiling
temperature. Stir frequently, so that the rice
will not adhere to the bottom of the dish. When
boiling, place in the oven, and bake till the rice
is tender, which can be ascertained by dipping a spoon
into one side and taking out a few grains. Twenty
minutes will generally be sufficient.
Much care should be used in putting
up the lunch to have it as neat and dainty as possible.
A basket of suitable size covered with a clean white
napkin is better for use than the conventional dinner
pail, in which air-tight receptacle each food is apt
to savor of all the others, making the entire contents
unappetizing, if not unwholesome.
One of the most needed reforms in
domestic life is a change to more simple meals on
the Sabbath. In many households the Sabbath is
the only day in the week when all the members of the
family can dine together, and with an aim to making
it the most enjoyable day of all, the good housewife
provides the most elaborate dinner of the week, for
the preparation of which she must either spend an
unusual amount of time and labor the day previous
or must encroach upon the sacred rest day to perform
Real enjoyment ought not to be dependent
upon feasting and gustatory pleasures. Plain
living and high thinking should be the rule at all
times, and especially upon the Sabbath day. Nothing
could be more conducive to indigestion and dyspepsia
than this general custom of feasting on the Sabbath.
The extra dishes and especial luxuries tempt to over-indulgence
of appetite; while the lack of customary exercise and
the gorged condition of the stomach incident upon such
hearty meals, fosters headaches and indigestion and
renders brain and mind so inactive that the participants
feel too dull for meditation and study, too sleepy
to keep awake during service, too languid for anything
but dozing and lounging, and the day that should have
fostered spiritual growth is worse than thrown away.
Nor is this all; the evil effects of the indigestion
occasioned are apt to be felt for several succeeding
days, making the children irritable and cross, and
the older members of the family nervous and impatient, most
certainly an opposite result from that which ought
to follow a sacred day of rest.
Physiologically such feasting is wrong.
The wear and consequent repair incident upon hard
labor, calls for an equivalent in food; but when no
labor is performed, a very moderate allowance is
all that is necessary, and it should be of easy digestibility.
Let the Sabbath meals be simple, and served with abundant
good cheer and intelligent thought as an accompaniment.
Let as much as possible of the food
be prepared and the necessary work be done the day
previous, so that the cook may have ample opportunity
with the other members of the family to enjoy all Sabbath
privileges. This need by no means necessitate
the use of cold food nor entail a great amount of
added work in preparation.
To the days of the aged
it addeth length;
To the might of the
strong it addeth strength;
It freshens the heart,
it brightens the sight;
’T is like quaffing
a goblet of morning light.
It is said that Worcester sauce was
first introduced as a medicine, the original formula
having been evolved by a noted physician to disguise
the assafetida which it contains, for the benefit of
a noble patient whose high living had impaired
The turnpike road to people’s
hearts I find
Lies through their mouth,
or I mistake mankind. Dr. Wolcott.
A good dinner sharpens wit,
while it softens the heart. Daran.
Small cheer and great welcome
make a merry feast. Shakespeare.