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Household Hints

During the first years of the Sharm Women’s Club Bea started a “household hints” section in her printed SWC Newsletter, and continued spreading this useful information via the SWC mailing list. Below are her collected hints; you might find lots of helpful tricks!

To squeeze juice from a lemon or other citrus fruit, place it in the microwave for a few seconds. I cook a cold lemon (right from the fridge) on high for about 40-45 seconds. You won’t believe how much more juice you’ll get from it. 

For really resistant stuck-on food, sprinkle a nice layer of baking soda over the bottom of the pan and add enough water to moisten (but not enough to dissolve…you basically want a paste). Cover and allow to sit overnight. In the morning, it should all come off with the wipe of a sponge (in most cases…of course, there are some pans that will never come clean because we were paying too much attention to our computer games or emails and not enough to our stoves. 

To avoid crying when peeling onions, put them in the cooler for a while or put them in ice water. 

Lettuce loves fat: Fat can be removed from hot soup by floating a large lettuce leaf on the surface. Remove and add more leaves if necessary. 

Onion breath? To reduce the strong taste of onions in a salad, dice them and put in refrigerator overnight. 

Spice secret: Keep paprika in the refrigerator to assure freshness. 

Garlic piercing: When cooking with garlic cloves, pierce each one with a toothpick. This makes them easy to retrieve especially in a sauce. 

Fresh nuts: Keep nuts in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They’ll stay fresher longer. 

Has the family outgrown baby spoons? Use them for jellies, jams and other condiments. 

Hard butter? Place it in the microwave. A stick of butter will soften when microwaved at 20% power for one minute. 

Stale chips? Try refreshing chips and crackers by putting them on a plate and microwaving them for 30 to 45 seconds. Let stand one minute to crisp. 

Strawberry aspirin? Next time you have a headache try eating some strawberries. They contain natural salicylates,an ingredient that’s found in aspirin. 

If you are making a chilled soup that calls for chicken stock, make sure you chill the stock and skim off as much of the fat as possible. You do not want to have traces of congealed fat in the chilled soup you serve. 

To help prevent color loss, do not cover vegetables when cooking them. 

When working with ground beef, wet your hands to prevent sticking. 

For more flavor, crush dried herbs between your fingers before adding them to a dish. 

Put dates and other sticky fruits in the freezer for about an hour before cutting up. It will make it easier. 

Always add croutons to a salad at the last possible moment to prevent sogginess. 

Grapes are delicious slightly frozen. Put them in the freezer for about 45 minutes and then serve. 

Never pour water or other liquids into hot fat. You can burn yourself or the fat may overflow. 

One pound of coffee will give you 40-50 cups. 

Candles will burn slower, and last longer, if you refrigerate them for one day before using. Be careful not to crack them when they’re cold. 

To keep peeled potatoes fresh and white, add lemon juice to the water you keep them in. 

Cooked rice can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw and place in a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons water. Simmer covered, until hot, 5-10 minutes. To reheat in microwave, put in correct bowl and cook on high for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle a little flour on potatoes before frying them and they will be extra crispy and crunchy.

Fragrant towels: Place a spiced tea bag in a dish towel drawer. It adds a good smell. 

Better than counting sheep: Can’t sleep? Try some honey and warm milk or chamomile tea before bedtime. 

Inexpensive meat tenderizer: Add lemon juice or vinegar to liquid in which meat is being cooked. 

Aromatic Barbecuing: Don’t throw away peelings from onions. When using a grill, toss peels on hot coals while cooking. Wonderful smell. 

Rice cleaner: To clean small-neck bottles or vases, place a little rice and warm soapy water inside and shake well. Rinse out and let drip dry. 

It’s in the bag: To remove grease spots from wallpaper, place a small piece of brown paper bag against the stain on the wall and iron with iron setting on warm. Iron in a circular motion. Keep replacing pieces of paper bag until spot is gone. 

My mother-in-law was always so good at keeping her lettuce fresh, sometimes it lasted over a month! One day she told me her secret: As soon as she gets her lettuce home, she immediately wraps it in a couple paper towels, turns the plastic bag inside- out (making sure that all the moisture is out) and puts it in the frige. 

Bye-Bye Bug: To keep bugs and worms away from outdoor and house plants, add a clove of garlic to the soil. 

When I use raw onion i e.g. tomato-salad, or other cold dishes, I always shake a little salt on the onion-rings, and wait for for 20 – 30 min. Then I rinse or wipe the salt and excess juice off, and voila, the onion taste very mild and sweet. 

Refrigerator has an unpleasant odor, use charcoal or heat beads to absorb odors. Heat beads are the same as charcoal, by the way, but I like that phrase…very descriptive.

To avoid shrinkage of T-shirts and other machine washable cotton ware, soak your NEW clothes in cold water for 24 hrs before the first time you want to wash them and let them dry on a hanger. Hereafter you can wash them at the indicated temperature, they will not “move” anymore. One time operation only. 

To “fix” the colors of new clothes you can add white vinegar to the soaking water. One bucket of water, min. half liter of vinegar. 

To make your earthware vases and pots water resistant, fill them up with milk for the night. Rinse and your pots won’t “perspire” anymore. 

If your hands smell like onions, garlic, fish or whatever, put a few shakes of salt on your palms and rub briskly. They’ll wash up fresh. 

Recipe calls for fresh ginger, minced? Cut coins of ginger (no need to peel) and drop in your garlic press.
Squeeze hard–be careful, this will squirt! Throw away the tough fibers left behind in the press. 

I dice up onion and keep in ice cube trays, which later once frozen, can be put into bags for future use in soups and sauces. You can also use ice cube trays to grind up leftover vegetables and meats for your infants dinners. If you have something that child can’t eat, you always have your choice foods from the trays. Just put on plate and heat in microwave until desired temperature. 

If you need eggs at room temperature, but have forgotten to take them out of the refrigerator, put them in slightly warm water for 10 minutes. 

A little lemon juice added to the water you cook green vegetables in will help them retain their color.

1 tbsp of flour will thicken the consistency of 1 cup thin liquid to that similar of medium cream. 

You can make confectioners’ sugar from granulated sugar by processing in a blender until it is pulverized. Stir occasionally for even processing. 

Do not dust moist cakes with confectioners’ sugar, or wait until just before serving. Otherwise the sugar will turn grey in color.

Spot removers:


Beer
While fresh, rinse with warm water, wash afterwards in the usual way.

Butter and Fat
Method A: Take a piece of very absorbent paper, place it onto the spot, pass carefully over it with the iron – watch out not to use too hot temperature!
Method B: Pour salt onto the spot. This usually absorbs the fat.

Blood
Method A: Rinse immediately with cold water. If this is not sufficient, soak in cold salt water and treat with soap afterwards.
Method B: Put Natron onto spot. Drip cold water onto it and kneed Natron into a paste. Let work for half an hour before washing off with a sponge.

Cola
See Blood stains.

Felttip Pen
Usually, marks can be removed with a strong washing soap (Gallseife), if this isn’t sufficient use alcohol (Spiritus).

Grass
Grass spots can be removed with Spiritus or at least bleached very much – treat afterwards with soap.

Coffee
Coffee spots can be quite easily removed with lukewarm mild soapwater. If spots are resisting use pure lemon juice. Wash normally afterwards.

Cocoa
Contains eggwhite. Spots to be rinsed with cold water (and soap) only. White textiles can be bleached afterwards in the sun.

Chewing Gum
Method A: Put the item into a plastic bag and place into the freezer. The deep frozen chewing gum can be brushed or scratched off quite easily.
Method B: Soak the garment with the chewing gum prior to washing in vinegar essence.