Saturday, June 22, 2013

What did "they" really do....

Here is an interesting article. I enjoy reading "household" books of the period, they explain how to do "stuff" in the home. This article discusses some of the things that are really done! 

1863 American Agriculturist
Small Leaks in the Household Ship
            A thousand worm holes, that will each admit scarcely a gallon of water during ten hours, will much sooner water-log a ship than a large hole through which is poured in a gallon a minute. In the financial affairs of a family, though the large outgoes may be canvassed and avoided, the whole income may be dribbled away, and no advance be made toward competency, wealth, or position. As a rule, the financial success of any family depends more upon the economy of the wife, than upon the earnings or business income of the husband.

—Mrs. Haskell, in her recently issued “Household Encycopaedia,” throws together some of the small leaks in a household ship, which we copy for a double purpose; 1st, to show the men that their wives have a multitude of cares, of little details, to look after—generally far more items than occur in man’s business pursuits; and 2nd, to perhaps in some cases indicate to housewives details that they may not have thought of before:--“Much waste is experienced in the boiling etc., of meats. Unless watched, the cook will throw out the water without letting it cool to take off the fat, or scrape the dripping pan into the swill-pail. This grease is useful in many ways. It can be burned in lamps mixes with lard; or when no pork has been boiled with it, made into candles. 

When pork is boiled alone, it will do to fry cakes, if cleansed. Again, bits of meat are thrown out which would make hashed meat, or hash. The flour is sifted in a wasteful manner, or the bread-pan left with dough sticking to it. Pie crust is left and laid by to sour, instead of making a few tarts for tea, etc. Cake batter is thrown out because but little is left. Cold puddings are considered good for nothing, when often they can be steamed for the next day, or, as in case of rice, made over in other forms. Vegetables are thrown away that would warm for breakfast nicely. 

Dish towels are thrown down where nice can destroy them. Soap is left in water to dissolve, or more used than is necessary. Ft Bath brick, whiting, rotten stone, etc., are used, much is wasted uselessly. The scrub brush is left in water, pails scorched by the stove, tubs and barrels left in the sun to dry and fall apart, chamber pails allowed to rust, tins not dried, and iron-ware rusted; nice knives used for cooking in the kitchen, silver spoons are used to scrape kettles, or forks to toast bread. 

Rinsing of sweetmeats, and skimmings of syrup, which make good vinegar, are thrown out; cream is allowed to mould, and spoil; mustard to dry in the pot, and vinegar to corrode the castor; tea, roasted coffee, pepper, and spices, to stand open and lose their strength. The molasses jug loses the cork, and the flies take possession. Sweetmeats are opened and forgotten. Vinegar is drawn in a basin, and allowed to stand, until both basin and vinegar are spoiled. Sugar is spilled from the barrel, coffee from the sack, and tea from the chest. Different sauces are made too sweet, and both sauce and sugar wasted. Dried fruit has not been taken care of in season, and becomes wormy. The vinegar on pickles loses strength, or leaks out, and the pickles become soft. Potatoes in the cellar grow, and the sprouts are not removed until they become worthless. Apples decay for want of looking over. Pork spoils for want of salt, and beef because the brine wants scalding. Hams become tainted, or filled with vermin, for want of the right protection. Dried beef becomes so hard it can’t be cut. Cheese moulds, and is eaten by mice or vermin. Lard is not well tried in the Fall, and becomes tainted. Butter spoils for want of being well made at first. Bones are burned that will make soup. 

Ashes are thrown out carelessly, endangering the premises, and being wasted. Servants leave a light and fire burning in the kitchen, when they are out all the evening. Clothes are whipped to pieces in the wind; fine cambrics rubbed on the board, and laces torn in starching. Brooms are never hung up, and soon are spoiled. Carpets are swept with stubs, hardly fit to scrub the kitchen, and good new brooms used for scrubbing. Towels are used in place of holders, and good sheets to iron on, taking a fresh one every week, thus scorching nearly all in the house. Fluid if used, is left uncorked, endangering the house, and wasting the alcohol. Caps are left from lamps, rendering the fluid worthless by evaporation. Table linen is thrown carelessly down and is eaten by mice, or put away damp and is mildewed; or the fruit stains are forgotten, and the stains washed in. Table-cloths and napkins used as dish wipers; mats forgotten to be put under hot dishes; teapots melted by the stove; water forgotten in pitchers, and allowed to freeze in winter; slops for cow and pig never saved; china used to feed cats and dogs on; and in many other ways. a careless and inexperienced housekeeper will waste, without heeding the hard-earned wages of her husband; when she really thinks, because she buys on fine clothes, makes the old ones last, and cooks plainly, she is a most superior housekeeper.”—The next time an unthinking husband is disposed to be severe because some trifling matter has been neglected, he should “put that in his pipe and smoke it.”

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