Household and Cooking Tips from Our Ancestors

We can never read enough about the “olden days” when it comes to finding help in the kitchen and around the house. There’s also an appeal to achieve a simpler way of doing things and one that is organic and free from harmful chemicals.

You can apply some of our ancestors’ suggestions within your own household. A few of the suggestions may seem familiar and others may just inspire you to try them for their simplicity.

  • String beans are made tender if a little vinegar is added to the water they are boiled in.
  • Scalloped potatoes or other milk-based foods are sometimes spoiled because of curdling of the milk when heated. Add 2 millimetres (1/4 teaspoon) of baking soda to each 1/2 litre (2 cups) of milk to prevent curdling.
  • Add a few cloves to vegetable soup to enhance its delicious flavour. You can also add a bay leaf or two, which contains minerals and vitamins essential for optimum health. Remember to remove the bay leaf before serving.
  • Warm a lemon in the microwave (10 – 20 seconds) or in a pot of warm water well before squeezing the juice. You will increase the quantity and ease of extracting the juice.
  • To remove odours, such as onions and fish from your hands, wash hands and before drying rub them with approximately 5 millilitres (1 teaspoon) of dry mustard. Lemon juice also does the trick.
  • A few grains of rice placed in the bottom of your salt shaker will keep salt from clumping.
  • Clean and peel your onions under water, and they won’t irritate your eyes. Or place an onion in the freezer fro up to 15 minutes before cutting.
  • Cooking time for asparagus can be cut in half if 45 millilitres (3 tablespoons) of white vinegar is added to 1 litre (4 cups) of water. Try to pan fry the asparagus in some healthy oil; it’s delicious.
  • If an egg is “fresh” it will, when placed in a pan of water, lie on its side at the bottom of the pan. If it’s “stale,” it will stand on its end. Older (past their prime) eggs will rise to the surface.
  • Fresh strawberry stains can be removed with a mild solution of borax (sodium borate) and water. Mix as a paste to apply to the stain. Let sit and launder as usual.
  • If a cauliflower is turning yellow, add some milk to the boiling water and the florets will turn white again.
  • Add a small amount of vinegar or drops of lemon juice when boiling fish to reduce the smell in the kitchen.
  • Frozen peas will keep their green colour after defrosting if you add them to hot water. Slowly warm up the peas in a skillet on the stove with a little butter and sugar to taste.
  • Summer is the perfect time to taste the juicy fruits of the season. But leaving fruit on the counter seems to attract pesky fruit flies. A simple solution to mix is in a small juice glass add apple cider vinegar and a few drops of lemon dish wash soap. The smell of both the lemon and apple cider will attract the fruit flies. Leave the glass on the kitchen counter for the solution to do its magic.
  • Epson salts added to the bath water will help with sore muscles from your time spent in the garden. Try adding 250 – 500 millilitres (1 – 2 cups) to a warm bath. Soak in the relaxation.
  • To clean and disinfect a wooden chopping board sprinkle on a handful of Kosher salt and rub with half a sliced lemon. Rinse with clean water and set to dry.
  • To make a natural air freshener add 1 sliced lime and 1 piece of chopped ginger root to a medium saucepan with 1 litre (4 cups) of water and simmer. Also, try 1 sliced lime and 30 millilitres (2 tablespoons) thyme or 1 sliced lemon with 30 millilitres (2 tablespoons) rosemary and a dash of vanilla.
  • During the summer with our hectic schedules, especially time spent in the garden, we don’t drink enough water to stay hydrated. Water can seem quite bland tasting so why not add a slice of lemon, lime and orange sections to a container of water you keep in the fridge. Now, drinking water will take on a refreshing taste, and you will reap the health benefits.

I hope that you found these helpful hints interesting and worth a try in your kitchen!

Just a Thought… We are our choices. Jean-Paul Sartre, French Philosopher