Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Cleaning Treasures

The other day we had mild temps (low 50's), lots of sunshine and I caught the spring-cleaning itch. I promised myself I would re-organize family photo albums, scrapbooks and cookbooks that had been tossed every which way inside the basement storage cabinets. I came across a tiny little book that had belonged to my great-grandmother called West Bend Cook Book, copyright 1915.

The opening paragraph: If I were asked the greatest need of the American housewife of to-day, I should answer without hesitation, "A wiser and more complete training for services in the home."

The back of the book contains a section of "Helps To Young Housekeepers". After reading through the book I wondered how many of the recipes my great-grandmother had used. The book is worn and there are old food stains on some of the pages. Following are a few tips I found interesting--not that I've ever used them.

1) A piece of charcoal, tied in a muslin cloth, and put in the water in which cabbage, cauliflower, onions or ham is boiling will remove the unpleasant odor.

2) To remove skins from tomatoes, peaches or plums, dip them in boiling water a minute or two.

3) Boil a few onions, sliced, in a pint of new milk, with a sprinkle of oatmeal and a very little salt, until quite tender; then sip rapidly and go to bed. Excellent for colds.

4) Cure for Hiccoughs: swallow one teaspoon pulverized sugar without water

5) Diet for the sick: In serving a meal to an invalid, one cannot be too fastidious: too large a portion, a suspicion of grease on the broth, will often spoil the appetite. The linen, glass, dishes etc., should be the best in the house; a tiny flower laid on the folded napkin will do much to render the meal pleasant.

6) Coffee: one and one-half quarts boiling water, one-quarter pound best coffee, one egg. Break the egg into the coffee and stir until it is entirely absorbed, then put into the boiling water and let boil three minutes. Strain through flannel and serve.

What treasures have you come across during spring cleaning?

In a Soldier's Arms Feb 08

A Coal Miner's Wife Aug 08
The Cowboy and the Angel Nov 08


Estella said...

I have not come across any treasures---just a lot of what in the world is this.

Marin Thomas said...

Estella--I've found things in boxes I swear belong to another family. We've moved several times over the years and it seems something strange is always left behind by the moving van.


Jan said...

I believe in spring cleaning, especially after my mom died and I had to clean up the house where she'd lived for 50 years. I found some neat stuff -- old sheet music, my dad's college papers, old pictures, etc.

I'm in the process of spring cleaning my office -- one stack of papers at a time!

Marin Thomas said...

Hi Jan

I think it's that "neat stuff" that's such a treasure to find after a loved one passes away.
But it's sad in a way, too. Because once you find these little treasures, like the sheet music you located, you wish the person were still around so they could answer all the questions you never thought to ask when they were alive.


Ann Roth said...

Marin- I love your post. Finding old household tips books... really is fascinating.

Thank you so much for sharing.

When I spring clean, I usually find stuff to give to charity. Old clothes, long-ago lost toys, etc. But once when I was about 12, I was helping my mom clean out the basement of our house. The house was a big, beautiful brick thing built by my grandfather and sold for a song to my parents. I found a very old doll in pitiful shape. My mother had her restored. She was beautiful! I wish I knew what happened to her, but she's disappeared.