Vintage Housekeeper, the folly of pies

I posted something else from this cookbook a few weeks ago.  Something about her acerbic, very stringent views on pies just tickled my funny bone, so I had to share it with all of you.

Pies are more apt to prove injurious to persons of delicate constitutions than puddings ; because of the indigestible na-ture of the pastry. Those who eat much of this kind of food, when made rich (and poor pies are poor things indeed) usually com-plain of the loss of appetite, and feel a disrelish for any but high seasoned food.

It would really be a great improve-ment in the matter of health, (and without that we cannot long enjoy pleasure or even comfort in good living) as well as evince superior nicety of taste, if people would eat their delicious summer fruit with good light bread, instead of working up the flour with water and butter into a com-pound that almost defies the digestive powers, and baking therein the fruits, till they lose nearly all their fine original fla-vor.

Apples are about the only fruit that seems intended for cooking ; (pears and quinces are good to preserve) ; the stone fruits, cherries, plums,’ &c. are absolutely ruined by it ; and nearly all the summer berries are injured by ba-king.

And yet women will make pies ; and mothers will give them to their young children, when a bowl of bread and milk, with a little ripe fruit in it, would satisfy their unvitiated appetites better, and in every respect do them much more good.

—Pies are best for winter food, because then we can bear a rich, concentrated diet, better than during the hot weather. In the spring and summer, when milk and eggs are plenty and fresh, we should use custards and all the light farinaceous puddings ; and ripe fruits.

In cold weather, there is less danger of injury from mince pies and plum puddings ; still for the sedentary, the delicate, or dyspeptic they are never safe. And if the mistress of a family be a ” good housekeeper”—that is if she thoroughly understand the nature of food and the effect of its various

combinations on the health of those for whom her table is spread, she will not permit the appearance of those kinds which can scarcely be taken by the strong and healthy without injury, and which are sure to prove hurtful to the young, weak, or invalid.

In making paste, particular care must be taken that the board, rolling-pin, cutters, &c. are very clean and dry. The flour used should always be of the best quality, dried and sifted. If the butter is very salt, it should be washed several times. Never use bad butter in pastry—it spoils it.
Weigh an equal quantity of flour and butter, rub rath-er more than the half of the butter into the flour, then add as much cold water as will make it into a stiff paste ; work it until the butter be completely mixed with the flour, make it round, beat it with the rolling-pin, dust it, as also the rolling-pin, with flour, and roll it out towards the opposite side of the slab, or paste-board, making it of an equal thickness ; then with the point of a knife put little bits of butter all over it, dust flour over and under it, fold in the sides and roll it up, dust it again with flour, beat it a little, and roll it out, always rubbing the rolling-pin with flour, and throwing some underneath the paste, to prevent its sticking to the board. If the butter is not all easily put in at the second time of rolling out the paste, the remain. der may be put in at the third ; it should be touched as little as possible with the hands.
Rub into half a pound of flour, six ounces of butter and a table spoonful of powdered loaf sugar ; make it into a stiff paste with hot water.

SHORT PASTE FOR FRUIT PIES. Rub into three quarters of a pound of flour a quarter of a pound of lard and a spoonful of grated sugar. Make it into a paste with milk, roll it out, and add a quarter of a pound of butter. For a fruit tart it must be rolled out half an inch thick.



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