Thursday, April 14, 2011

Household Hints, Part 2.

Today’s household hints come from Mrs. Ellis's housekeeping made easy, or, Complete instructor in all branches (Sarah Stickney Ellis; 1843.)  On the surface of it, it is advice that makes me very grateful to have a refrigerator, freezer, airtight storage jars, and plastic food wrap. But in the deep of it, it reminds me that there are times and places and circumstances when there may not be electrical power, and discarding meat fat and bread crusts are a wicked waste, and plastic an environmental disaster.

How and Where to Keep Things.
Crusts and bits of bread should be kept in an earthen pot, closely covered in a dry cool place. Keep fresh lard and suet in tin vessels. Keep salt pork fat in glazed earthen ware. Keep yeast in wood or earthen. Keep preserves and jellies in glass, or china, or stone ware. Keep salt in a dry place. Keep meal in a cool dry place. Keep ice in the cellar, wrapped in flannel. Keep vinegar[r] in wood or glas[s].

Mrs. Ellis also gives the following piece of advice, which made me ashamed to admit how rarely I peer into the depths of my tea-kettle to assess its crustiness.

To Prevent the Formation of a Crust on Tea-Kettles.
Keep an oyster-shell in your tea-kettle and it will prevent the formation of a crust on the inside of it, but attracting the stony particles to itself.

Naturally, Mrs Ellis’ hints include several other ways for avoiding waste, and the recipe for the day, taken from her book, shows you how to renovate bad butter and rancid lard.

Tainted butter.
Some good cooks say that bad butter may be purified in the following manner: Melt and skim it, then put into it a piece of well-toasted bread; in a few minutes the butter will lose its offensive taste and smell; the bread will absorb it all. Slices of potatoe fried in rancid lard will in a great measure absorb the unpleasant taste.

Quotation for the Day.
A lucky person is one who plants pebbles and harvests potatoes.
Greek proverb.


Les said...

Interesting, tidbits like these set the old cookbooks apart from modern ones it seems. I like having the info on the proper storage containers, that's worth keeping. It's sad, my grandparents grew up knowing this stuff but they failed to adequately impart it to my mother or me. I think they gladly forgot all of that stuff when electricity brought so many conveniences.

erik nabler said...

If you are already familiar with this, my apologies. If not, look up keeping eggs with waterglass.