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(caption title) The Quest of Food Substitutes
Greenville, N. C.
East Carolina Teachers Training School
Call number C370.5 T76 v.4 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Appears in Training school quarterly. Vol. 4, no. 3 (Oct., Nov., Dec. 1917)
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OUR Allies must have wheat, sugar, fats, beef, and pork. Every patriotic American will do his part to see that they get them. These facts seem to stare the teacher of cookery in the face in whatever direction she turns, for these very materials are the ones she has used most often in her lessons; they seem to illustrate most clearly the principles she wants to leave with her students, and to be the materials with which they will work in after years when this war, like others, is a thing of the past. In small places they are the materials most easily secured, and (alas!) even with our present high prices, they are some of the cheapest of the available supplies--a fact difficult to explain in many cases, and most difficult to keep in the background when preaching food conservation to the housekeeper who is already stretching a few dollars to the utmost in providing for the needs of her family.
On every hand the teacher sees advice and recipes, learned and unlearned, practical and impractical, as to what to substitute for these materials and how to do it. Some of these substitutes are good, while others give combinations of materials that result in dishes, especially breads, no mortal would eat anywhere short of actual starvation.
What is a legitimate use of these materials in the classroom, and what and where must she substitute for them? These are the questions that she and her class must solve; and with us, as yet, the solution is still to be found.
In bread-making, for this part of the country, where we know and eat breads made of cereals other than wheat, we are using wheat flour to teach biscuit and yeast breads, then emphasizing breads made of corn meal and of mixtures of corn meal or wheat flour with rice, grits, oat-meal, or any other cereal that is at hand. This seems a better plan than to make all breads of a mixture of cereals, as it offers more variety, gives people some white bread, and still conserves wheat. Whole wheat breads, too, are valuable, as they require less flour for a loaf than breads made of white flour; but whole wheat flour, for some inexplicable reason, costs more than patent flour; so there is little difference in the cost of the two loaves.
In cake-making no satisfactory substitute for flour has been found that can be used in all cakes. In gingerbread and cakes of that type corn meal has proved a very satisfactory substitute for part of the flour; and in devil's food mashed Irish potatoes in place of part of the flour adds very materially to the delicacy of the cake as well as to its keeping qualities, and at the same time allows us to eat it with a clearer conscience. White cakes made partly of corn starch have long been familiar
to us all. Possibly at some time in the near future we shall be able to add "Flourless" to the "Eggless, Butterless, Milkless Cake," for which we see recipes in all the magazines; but that time has not yet come.
To replace sugar we may use honey, molasses, maple sugar, and the syrup from preserves. Of these, molasses is proving the most satisfactory, as it is the cheapest and the most easily obtained. Honey is scarce in this section of the country, hence is expensive, costing at least five cents more per pound than sugar. Fruit syrups can be served in so many other ways that it seems a pity to use them in breads and cakes where their delicate flavors are lost.
In fats we have a wider field than in sugars: peanut and cottonseed oils, chicken fat, beef suet, drippings of all kinds, nut butters, especially peanut, black walnut, and pecan butters, all of which can be made at home from North Carolina nuts. For those who own cows, cream has wonderful possibilities; but in the laboratory, with the milkman doling us out a few pints of milk a day, cream is out of the question.
When we come to meats here again we are fortunately situated, for both fish and oysters are available. Chickens and, in some cases, rabbits, squirrels, and birds, are good materials for lessons.
And so the quest goes on. Even if the course in elementary cookery seems in danger of developing into experimental cookery, even if there seems a possibility that the student may lose some of the customary drill on principles, she may, at least, gain a broader knowledge of the possibilities of food materials, and, better than that, she may gain a deeper realization of her duty to her neighbor, a keener sense of world values and civic relations, and a power to meet emergencies that will serve her well in the broader responsibilities and privileges now opening to women the world over.