The Bag Lady was perusing her cookbook shelves and came across a couple of books that had belonged to her mother. She started looking through them (she is easily distracted by almost anything that will allow her to put off what she is actually supposed to be doing…) and decided that she simply had to share some of the information she found there.
The books she found so fascinating were published in the 1940’s, when our nations were either at war or about to go to war, so rationing was prevalent. One of the books has instructions for building a Fireless Cooker, which is a precursor to our modern-day slow cookers! There is a lot more work involved in building your own slow-cooker, but the Bag Lady loves odd and unusual things, so just may have to build one of these (in the summer, mind you – not now, when it’s too cold to spend much time outside.)
There are recipes for things she hopes she never has to eat (the Bag Lady is definitely NOT a fan of organ meats!) like Liver Spoon Cakes, Kidney in Creole Sauce, or Brains and Scrambled Eggs (shudder!). How about Stuffed Heart or Heart Chop Suey? Pickled Tongue?
There are also some rather interesting beverage recipes. Prune Milk, anyone? How about Fruit Jerry, which is avocado, ice cream, milk and carbonated water.
There ARE some recipes that do sound quite appealing. Brazil-nut Pie Shell with Lemon Filling or War-time Beef Stew.
Another of the books is full of household hints. Believe me, ladies, we don’t work half as hard as they did in the 1940’s!! When was the last time you starched anything using home-made starch? Or used a mangle to do your laundry? If we all followed the instructions in this book to clean our homes, we would never rest! Here are some examples:
To remove bathtub stains, first use a cloth moistened with kerosene and rub with a scratchless cleansing powder. Then wash the tub with warm water and cleanser…does anyone out there even have kerosene in their home? (well, okay, the Bag Lady does, but it’s for a lamp we could use if the electricity goes out.)
To clean brass, use salt and vinegar or lemon juice. Rub well. Wash and dry.
To test linen, rub briskly between hands. If a fuzzy nap appears on the surface, the material is part cotton.
To keep your turkeys in their enclosure, clip one wing – the outer wing feathers at the top.
To soften shoe paste, add a little turpentine.
Cleaning – Each Day: Sweep walks and porches; use carpet sweeper over rugs; dust furniture; use dustmop on floors; put rooms in order; brush upholstered furniture. Clean bathtub, kitchen sink and fittings. Clean stove after each use.
Cleaning – Each Week: move each piece of furniture and dust thoroughly. Dust radiators, baseboards, doors and windows. Dust all woodwork, pictures, mirrors, lighting fixtures, electric light bulbs, clothes closets, Venetian blinds, etc. Dust doors and windows outside of the house. Wash and polish bathroom fixtures. Clean the fridge, polish silver, clean pantry, put shelves in order. Clean the stove, including burners and oven, and polish all bright metal parts. Clean the mouthpiece of the telephone, wash and dry door knobs, dust stair rails.
There now. That’s only part of what you should do to keep a proper house. The Bag Lady is exhausted from just typing that out, so she isn’t going to get into what you should do monthly and semi-annually and annually.
She’s going to go mangle some laundry now...
Starch? I pull out the iron once, maybe twice a year. And all that cleaning? Those poor ladies would be horrified to see my house! I can barely keep up with washing the dishes and doing the laundry.
Does that sound terrible? My house is not dirty, honest. It's is just very untidy. And watch out for cat fur if you plan to sit on any of the furniture.
I rarely remember to sweep every day.
I gotta gets me some prune milk.
Javachick - we must be related! I use my iron quite a bit, but only for sewing! And with 2 cats and 1 dog in the house, everything is furry...
dfLeah: recipe for Prune Milk (yum)
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup water
2 cups prune juice
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Chill. Serves 4. (would serve 400 in my house...one sip would satisfy me, I'm sure!)
Thanks for the recipe dfBagLady.
Interesting recipes- I'm up for trying new things but I don't know if I could have survived back then. The good news is that I probably would have never had any weight issues since I'd rather starve than eat kidneys and brains!!
That sounds too much like work! I'm ready for a nap after reading all that. I agree with Emily though, I would have any weight problems, I too can't stand the thought of eating organ meats.
Sounds like we're all in agreement on the organ meat thing. The Bag Lady manages to choke down some liver once or twice a year because the Cowboy likes it, but that's the extent of it. And she has to have lots of onions and bacon to make it palatable! Brains - never. Really. Never.
I had someone try to talk me into eating beef tongue once. Uh, no. I'm adventurous, but not THAT adventurous. Ask me again if I'm ever on the verge of starvation.
When I was in the restaurant business, I used to starch my own shirts. It was cheaper and was the only way I could be sure the shirts were done properly and ready on time. I never made my own starch, though. I bought it in a bottle. Pour it in during the rinse cycle.
All that daily cleaning! OMG! Why would anyone need to dust every day? Was this book for desert-dwellers?
It's fascinating to me how standards of what "has to" be done each day have changed over time.
One of the advantages of being older than dirt.(Or at least older than you are) is that I remember making starch with my mother AND I remember all the rejoicing when spray starch was invented!! It accumulated on the iron and burned the clothes but was a lot easier than soaking in home made starch.
But the biggest hooray came with permanent press fabrics. I still own an iron but am not quite sure why!
Bunnygirl, I know what you mean. I dust once a week (when I remember), but do try to vacuum every day, or every second day. With three furry critters in the house, it piles up quickly.
I have been known to use starch, rarely, but I use the spray kind when I'm ironing. Wouldn't even know how to make it, but I'm sure if I look hard enough, there are instructions in that book...:)
Hi, dfTerrie!! I remember my mother starching my dad's shirts for work, but don't remember her ever making her own starch.
So, do you remember how to make it?
Oh, and I love permanent press fabrics!
I love reading those old books! I have one of my Grandma's from the 60s and it talks about how you should make sure you're looking nice when your husband comes home, and be sure to have a cocktail available for him. I'd also say that about 34% of the recipes involve using gelatin in some bizarre way.
SB - know what you mean! This one has a recipe for Prune Whip. (calls for orange gelatin.) Considering what prunes are traditionally used for, there are all kinds of nasty things running through my mind...eeuuww (get it? ...running...)
ICKy POO. Good thing there wasn't pickled penis or double dipped doo doo or tofu testes.
(apparently I am a 10 yr old boy suck in a 32 yr old woman/girls body)
What's an iron?
I knew my housekeeping skills were not up to par when my then three year old was being babysat by my cousin one afternoon. She needed to get some ironing done and he sat and watched wide-eyed, asking "What's THAT thing?"
I do have an iron.. I just very rarely use it. :)
POM - no, it's the 'Western" themed cookbooks that give instructions for cooking calves testicles! We call 'em Prairie Oysters, and I thank God everytime we have to deal with our bull calves that we use rings rather than a knife!!
Hilary - Ironing every 3 years would be about right for me, too, if I didn't have to use it when I do my sewing!
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