Household Hints My Mother Taught Me

July 19, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Online Auction

Along with some of the pseudo-medical sayings of my mother (e.g. “cocoa powder leaches calcium from your bones” and “eating ice puts strain on your kidneys” – translation: stop hogging the cocoa powder/ice cubes), quite a few household hints came along, too.

Always hang up a damp dishcloth over the tap to dry slightly rather than leaving it in a smelly, soggy heap in the kitchen sink. Better still, put it in the wash immediately after use and get a clean one when you need to wipe something else.

Scones and spaghetti should both be cooked for twelve minutes.  In the case of the scones, that’s twelve minutes if you pre-heated the oven, and for the spaghetti (or any other pasta), it’s twelve minutes going into boiling water. Alternatively, cook the pasta until al dente (firm to the bite).

If you have a lot of visitors popping in frequently (my father was a vicar, so this was true of our household), always cook enough for dinner to be able to serve an extra emergency guest.  If no guest turns up, use the extra for second helpings or to eat cold the next day.

Soaking in cold water overnight will remove protein-based stains such as egg yolk and blood. Never use warm water or (even worse) hot water.

Fresh, free-range eggs taste better and are better for you, as well as better for the hen that laid them. Best of all are eggs from you own hens, if possible. Watching hens clucking and scratching can also be very soothing for a fretful baby. If you have to buy eggs from a small farmer (e.g. at a farmers’ market), save your old eggboxes and give them back – they will be greatly appreciated.

Plant runner beans around sweet corn. As the corn grows, it provides natural beanstalks for the beans to grow up. Pumpkins can also be planted along with these two. Don’t overdo the ratio of beans to cornstalks, though – about one bean per corn stalk is right.

If you’re pushed for time or tired and you have to do the dishes, just leave the washed ones in the draining board to drip dry, putting a cloth over them to keep of flies. Anyone who needs a clean plate or knife can just help themselves off the draining board.

Handwashing clothes if something has happened to your washing machine will not kill you. All you need is ordinary soap and warm water. Rub and squeeze everything – preferably after soaking. Then rinse twice, squeeze hard and hang out.

At main meals, serve at least two vegetables (potatoes don’t count – they’re the starch component). One of the vegetables should be red or orange, while the other should be green. I’m not sure whether my mother classed white vegetables such as onions or turnips as red or green.

To cook brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), bring a lot of water to the boil. Plunge the brassicas in for about ten seconds, then drain most of the water out before cooking for another five minutes or so. The colour of the brassicas is enhanced by this method, and while the bitter taste is removed, the other flavours – and the vitamins – are retained.

To get the bitter liquid out of eggplants (aubergine), slice them, cut a grid-like pattern on them, then sprinkle them with salt. This will draw the liquid out. After leaving for an hour or so, rinse them and pat them dry before frying them.

Actually, it’s the oil that removes the bitter flavour, and purging eggplants the way my mother showed me removes the liquid so more oil can be taken up. Use olive oil.
Olive oil makes a good spread on bread instead of butter or margarine.

Nick Vassilev is the founder of successful carpet cleaning London and domestic cleaning London businesses delivering quality cleaning services to thousands of clients.

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