Child Guidance

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Section 14—Maintaining Physical Fitness

Chapter 61—The Homemaker in the Kitchen*

The High Calling of the Homemaker—There can be no employment more important than that of housework. To cook well, to present healthful food upon the table in an inviting manner, requires intelligence and experience. The one who prepares the food that is to be placed in our stomachs, to be converted into blood to nourish the system, occupies a most important and elevated position.1 CG 371.1

It is essential for every youth to have a thorough acquaintance with everyday duties. If need be, a young woman can dispense with a knowledge of French and algebra, or even of the piano; but it is indispensable that she learn to make good bread, to fashion neatly fitting garments, and to perform efficiently the many duties that pertain to homemaking. CG 371.2

To the health and happiness of the whole family nothing is more vital than skill and intelligence on the part of the cook. By ill-prepared, unwholesome food she may hinder and even ruin both the adult's usefulness and the child's development. Or by providing food adapted to the needs of the body, and at the same time inviting and palatable, she can accomplish as much in the right as otherwise she accomplished in the wrong direction. So, in many ways, life's happiness is bound up with faithfulness in common duties.2 CG 371.3

The Science of Cooking Is an Essential Art—The science of cooking is not a small matter.... This art should be regarded as the most valuable of all the arts, because it is so closely connected with life. It should receive more attention; for in order to make good blood, the system requires good food. The foundation of that which keeps people in health is the medical missionary work of good cooking. CG 372.1

Often health reform is made health deform by the unpalatable preparation of food. The lack of knowledge regarding healthful cookery must be remedied before health reform is a success. CG 372.2

Good cooks are few. Many, many mothers need to take lessons in cooking, that they may set before the family well-prepared, neatly served food.3 CG 372.3

Seek to Become Mistress of the Art—Our sisters often do not know how to cook. To such I would say, I would go to the very best cook that could be found in the country, and remain there if necessary for weeks, until I had become mistress of the art—an intelligent, skillful cook. I would pursue this course if I were forty years old. It is your duty to know how to cook, and it is your duty to teach your daughters to cook.4 CG 372.4

Study and Practice—Food can be prepared simply and healthfully, but it requires skill to make it both palatable and nourishing. In order to learn how to cook, women should study and then patiently reduce what they learn to practice. People are suffering because they will not take the trouble to do this. I say to such, It is time for you to rouse your dormant energies and inform yourselves. Do not think the time wasted which is devoted to obtaining a thorough knowledge and experience in the preparation of healthful, palatable food. No matter how long an experience you have had in cooking, if you still have the responsibilities of a family, it is your duty to learn how to care for them properly.5 CG 372.5

Both Variety and Simplicity Are Essential—The meals should be varied. The same dishes, prepared in the same way, should not appear on the table meal after meal and day after day. The meals are eaten with greater relish, and the system is better nourished, when the food is varied.6 CG 373.1

Our bodies are constructed from what we eat; and in order to make tissues of good quality, we must have the right kind of food, and it must be prepared with such skill as will best adapt it to the wants of the system. It is a religious duty for those who cook to learn how to prepare healthful food in a variety of ways, so that it may be both palatable and healthful.7 CG 373.2

Even in the table arrangements, fashion and show exert their baleful influence. The healthful preparation of food becomes a secondary matter. The serving of a great variety of dishes absorbs time, money, and taxing labor, without accomplishing any good. It may be fashionable to have half a dozen courses at a meal, but the custom is ruinous to health. It is a fashion that sensible men and women should condemn, by both precept and example.... How much better it would be for the health of the household if the table preparations were more simple.8 CG 373.3

Results of Poor Cooking—Poor cookery is wearing away the life energies of thousands. More souls are lost from this cause than many realize. It deranges the system and produces disease. In the condition thus induced, heavenly things cannot be readily discerned.9 CG 373.4

Scanty, ill-cooked food depraves the blood by weakening the bloodmaking organs. It deranges the system and brings on disease, with its accompaniment of irritable nerves and bad tempers. The victims of poor cookery are numbered by thousands and tens of thousands. Over many graves might be written: “Died because of poor cooking,” “Died of an abused stomach.”10 CG 374.1

Teach Your Children How to Cook—Do not neglect to teach your children how to cook. In so doing, you impart to them principles which they must have in their religious education. In giving your children lessons in physiology, and teaching them how to cook with simplicity and yet with skill, you are laying the foundation for the most useful branches of education. Skill is required to make good light bread. There is religion in good cooking, and I question the religion of that class who are too ignorant and too careless to learn to cook.11 CG 374.2

Instruct Them Patiently and Cheerfully—Mothers should take their daughters into the kitchen with them when very young, and teach them the art of cooking. The mother cannot expect her daughters to understand the mysteries of housekeeping without education. She should instruct them patiently, lovingly, and make the work as agreeable as she can by her cheerful countenance and encouraging words of approval.12 CG 374.3

If they fail once, twice, or thrice, censure not. Already discouragement is doing its work and tempting them to say, “It is of no use; I can't do it.” This is not the time for censure. The will is becoming weakened. It needs the spur of encouraging, cheerful, hopeful words, as, “Never mind the mistakes you have made. You are but a learner, and must expect to make blunders. Try again. Put your mind on what you are doing. Be very careful, and you will certainly succeed.”13 CG 374.4

How Interest and Ardor May Be Cooled—Many mothers do not realize the importance of this branch of knowledge, and rather than have the trouble and care of instructing their children and bearing with their failings and errors while learning, they prefer to do all themselves. And when their daughters make a failure in their efforts, they send them away with, “It is no use; you can't do this or that. You perplex and trouble me more than you help me.” CG 375.1

Thus the first efforts of the learners are repulsed, and the first failure so cools their interest and ardor to learn, that they dread another trial, and will propose to sew, knit, clean house, anything but cook. Here the mother was greatly at fault. She should have patiently instructed them, that they might, by practice, obtain an experience which would remove the awkwardness and remedy the unskillful movements of the inexperienced worker.14 CG 375.2

The Most Necessary Preparation Young Women Can Make for Practical Life—Young ladies should be thoroughly instructed in cooking. Whatever may be their circumstances in life, here is knowledge which may be put to a practical use. It is a branch of education which has the most direct influence upon human life, especially the lives of those held most dear.15 CG 375.3

I prize my seamstress; I value my copyist; but my cook, who knows well how to prepare the food to sustain life and nourish brain, bone, and muscle, fills the most important place among the helpers in my family.16 CG 375.4

Young women think that it is menial to cook and do other kinds of housework; and, for this reason, many girls who marry and have the care of families have little idea of the duties devolving upon a wife and mother.17 CG 376.1

Thus Build a Barrier Against Folly and Vice—When you are teaching them [your daughters] the art of cookery, you are building around them a barrier that will preserve them from the folly and vice which they may otherwise be tempted to engage in.18 CG 376.2

Men As Well As Women Should Learn to Cook—Men, as well as women, need to understand the simple, healthful preparation of food. Their business often calls them where they cannot obtain wholesome food; then, if they have a knowledge of cookery, they can use it to good purpose.19 CG 376.3

Both young men and young women should be taught how to cook economically and to dispense with everything in the line of flesh food.20 CG 376.4

Study Economy; Avoid Waste—In every line of cooking the question that should be considered is, “How shall the food be prepared in the most natural and inexpensive manner?” And there should be careful study that the fragments of food left over from the table be not wasted. Study how, that in some way these fragments of food shall not be lost. This skill, economy, and tact is a fortune. In the warmer parts of the season, prepare less food. Use more dry substance. There are many poor families, who, although they have scarcely enough to eat, can often be enlightened as to why they are poor; there are so many jots and tittles wasted.21 CG 376.5

Serious Questions for Reflection—“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Do you do this when you prepare food for your tables and call your family to partake of it? Are you placing before your children only the food that you know will make the very best blood? Is it that food that will preserve their systems in the least feverish condition? Is it that which will place them in the very best relation to life and health? Is this the food that you are studying to place before your children? Or do you, regardless of their future good, provide for them unhealthful, stimulating, irritating food?22 CG 376.6